Managing Remote Teams: Digital Leadership Guide

Managing remote teams is a challenge that many digital leaders in the industry face. It’s not impossible, and this guide will show you how!

The definition of a team has evolved. With more digital and hybrid businesses than ever, we’ve had to adapt. Although Slack is one of the most powerful digital collaboration tools, leading and promoting a diverse and engaging culture with it can have a learning curve. In this guide, we’ll explore how managing remote teams works, the tools that can help, and what it means to be a digital leader.

Managing Remote Teams

Although managers in remote businesses may have a unique set of digital challenges, their responsibilities remain largely the same:

  • Maintain team health and culture: foster a culture of connection and recognition in your team.
  • Hiring: find the best people for the job that fit in with your team culture and goals.
  • Onboarding: make sure new employees have a structured and inclusive first experience with your remote team.
  • Relationship-building: remote leaders should encourage bonding experiences that can make the team feel more connected.
  • Communication: maintaining and utilizing the team's remote communication tools, like Slack.
  • Setting clear expectations: ensure that the team understands their responsibilities.

One of the most important points on this list is team culture. Maintaining team culture is a bit easier for an in-person team thanks to a shared physical space and greater accessibility to body language. Although team culture manifests itself differently online, learning to maintain it is one of the most important parts of managing remote teams.

Strategies to Encourage Cohesion Across Locations

Some of the most important ways to encourage cohesion across remote teams is to maintain a positive work culture. Celebrating the achievements and milestones of individuals and the team itself is a great place to start. According to WorkLeap, 83% of employees appreciate feedback on their work, whether it’s positive or not.

Making your team feel like a community is another great strategy. Encouraging team-building activities like online games or casual meeting times can go a long way.

How to Manage a Team Remotely

A few ways that you can effectively manage a team remotely are to leverage the right communication tools, as well as to maintain accountability remotely.

Communication Protocols and Essential Tools

One of the most popular remote team communication protocols is Slack. It’s certainly a powerful tool, but Slack is only as strong as the team that uses it. It’s easy to slip into the habit of skipping out on meetings in favor of quick, disconnected messages. That habit can make it difficult to connect and build a positive team culture.

However, there are tools for Slack that can help. One of the most essential Slack tools out there for the task is CultureBot, an app that helps you maintain your team’s wellbeing and promotes appreciation and connection.

Another universal way to keep teams engaged and focused is to set goals and track your progress. When your team sees they are getting closer to the finish line, they’ll be more engaged and motivated to succeed. CultureBot can help with this too with milestone celebrations on Slack.

Maintaining Accountability in a Remote Environment

Sharing personal responsibility can already be difficult for in-person teams. Managing remote teams while maintaining accountability can be challenging, especially without body language and proximity. However, as a digital leader, you can still make a difference. Keeping in touch on Slack is a great way to approach this. Taking time every day to have your team communicate can keep them engaged and accountable.

You can also integrate other applications into Slack to help with accountability, like project management, time tracking, and survey tools. CultureBot has great surveys and questionnaire features that can help you gauge team health on a regular basis.

Remote Work Management

There are some key differences between remote work management and in-person management, particularly in how to make teams productive and the technology used to engage and connect with teams.

Adapting Leadership Style for Productivity

Remote managers have to communicate more than in-person because of the distance between colleagues. Do daily or weekly check-ins, encourage discussion about more than just work, and give feedback regularly.

Leveraging Tech to Engage and Connect

Remote managers have to utilize different technologies to engage with their teams and promote a positive atmosphere. With the demand for communication being so much higher, automation becomes a priority. CultureBot is a great integration for Slack that can help make this happen with its automatic recognition features.

How to Manage a Team While Working Remotely

When you’re leading projects remotely, having less face-to-face contact can make things challenging. Your team culture becomes a major focus, and onboarding becomes more important than ever.

Collaboration Without Face-to-Face Contact

Remote team managers are challenged with the reality of collaborating from a distance. Communicating about collaborative projects online is difficult, but it can be overcome with tools like Slack.

Maintaining Team Culture in a Distributed Setting

According to Oxford University’s Said Business School, workers who are happy are 13% more productive. Maintaining employee happiness with positive team culture isn’t just good for our health, it’s good for business.

Some of CultureBot’s main features are automatic anniversary celebration messages, remote teams are encouraged to join in celebrating their colleagues. It also provides a way to send positive feedback and shoutouts, allowing your team to share appreciation more comfortably in a distributed setting.

Onboarding New Hires Remotely

Providing a consistent and engaging onboarding experience is a great way to improve remote team engagement and wellbeing. CultureBot automates employee introductions on Slack, allowing new hires to share some information about themselves so the rest of the team can welcome them.

Challenges of Managing Remote Teams

Some other challenges of collaborating remotely are relationship building, trust, and the isolation that comes from working from home.

Building Relationships and Trust Virtually

Miscommunication is the enemy of productivity when managing remote teams. The best way to avoid it is to stay accountable through regular communication on platforms like Slack, and to promote a positive digital team culture. When 88% of remote workers have problems with consistency, communication is even more important to maintain team cohesion.

Combating Isolation

It’s especially easy for remote workers to feel isolated. Good remote managers can combat this through regular communication with their teams and by sharing appreciation and positive feedback.

Manage Your Team with Culture at Heart

Now that you know how managing remote teams works and how to overcome its challenges, you’re ready to get out there and lead your team of superstars! Remember, pay special attention to the culture of your team. See what an appreciative, engaged, and communicative team on Slack can look like for your team!