According to a study conducted last year, about 43 percent of Americans claim to have worked from home at least part-time. Because of this, it becomes more than clear that telecommuting is currently showing a possibility of becoming the way of the future. Remote work and remote team management have numerous advantages. For example, they give telecommuters a chance to self-arrange their work environment, save both time and money on traveling to work and of course, collaborate with people all around the world. There are, however, some challenges as well. Here are five of them.
1. Team building
Some of the problems with coordinating a team that is scattered all over the globe can be found in the fact that team building becomes incredibly difficult. You see, it is quite hard for someone to develop a sense of trust and closeness with a person they’ve never met in real life. Still, in 2017, even this is possible through virtual means. For example, you could encourage your employees to add each other on social networks, have a virtual coffee break, propose a rotation leadership, or make decisions through virtual polling. The choice is yours.
2. Project collaboration
One of the greatest problems of working with people from different parts of the world happens when your team is supposed to work on a major project. Sure, in an ideal scenario, everyone would get a piece of the project they need to do, but what if the job simply can’t be divided into equal parts? Well, this problem can usually be solved through a project management system, which allows you to plan your projects and keep everyone on the right track during the entire process. In other words, such software allows everyone to pull their own weight.
3. Different time zones
Another issue with this is the fact that different people will often be in different time zones. Seeing how the greatest majority of people feel the most productive at around mid-morning and mid-afternoon, there will be a great discrepancy between different workers. Additionally, this might cause some overlapping with the day-job of your remote workers, which might cause them to be constantly late or feel completely exhausted while working on the projects. This problem, however, has an easy fix. All you need to do is rely on deadlines rather than work hours.
The next issue that you will be facing is the one of communication. Sure, they can always look for their colleagues (or you) on Facebook, perhaps even get in touch via Skype, but it would be for the best if you could organize one uniformed means of communication. We are talking about making a group on Skype or Viber where you would add all the team members who need to be there. In this way, you are facilitating communication by avoiding any potential confusion about how and to whom they should direct their questions. A project management system can also be useful here, but it is usually for the best to have an IM system as well.
5. Different cultures
Earlier on, we talked about your employees from different parts of the world being in different time zones. Well, the time discrepancy isn’t the only problem stemming from this. Try to learn at least some basics about most of your team members’ cultures, and compose an elaborate list of rules that you believe would help avoid any potential conflicts that could be caused by cultural diversity. In order to solve this problem for good, you could encourage your team members to learn a bit more about these differences themselves.
Even though all of these challenges pose a great difficulty for remote team managers across the globe, most of them can be solved by using the right digital tools. Still, uncovering those that would fit your business model the most requires some experience and thorough research. Luckily, for those who aren’t afraid to roll up their sleeves and get to work, there is nothing standing in their way.