Hopes and Dreams: Unifying a Distributed Team

It is fundamental for managers to ensure that all individuals have a clear understanding of their roles and responsibilities. This is a universally accepted concept and is taught in all management courses and textbooks, commonly known as the “even an idiot like you can be a manager” philosophy. However, despite this, many projects and initiatives still fail to meet their objectives due to inadequate communication of expectations.

Project management is essential for a successful venture, just like a cornerstone is for a structure. In this role, you will support the team from the initial planning stages to the completion of the project. The expectations and goals are the ‘blueprints’ which will serve as a guide, providing a roadmap to achieving the desired results. Once the foundation is established, specialists in specific areas can be brought in to provide additional expertise – we can help to source any additional help that is needed.

It is especially important for teams who are geographically dispersed to ensure effective working practices are implemented. Remote employees often demonstrate greater efficiency as they can enjoy more autonomy, enabling them to manage their workload in a way that works best for them. This autonomy can be highly beneficial, providing a morale boost to the staff and a sense of assurance that the essential tasks are being completed.

It is essential that everyone follows the agreed plan; however, this situation is an extreme one. To illustrate this further, if our construction project was being used as an example, it would not be desirable to arrive at the site one day and find that Clive had decided that each and every house should have its own helicopter.

Predicting Outcomes

This is a reminder of the basic expectations of workplace behaviour that you should have learnt during your management courses. To summarise, it is expected that you should:

  • Take the form of a guideline, outlining the project’s goals and outlining the scope of the work that will and will not be done (no helipads, Clive).
  • Determine who is responsible for what, and make sure that their duties reflect their job titles and salaries.
  • It is important to identify and define what you want to achieve. In order to do this, you can use SMART objectives; however, there are alternative methods which may be more suitable. These objectives should be divided into smaller, achievable tasks which, when completed, will ultimately lead to the desired outcome.
  • It is essential to remember to include comments when working in a team, particularly when the members are located in different geographical locations. Communication is always important when working as a team, but in this situation it becomes even more critical.

Modifications Made from Afar

If you have been keeping up with our content for a while, you will be aware that we often emphasise the fact that you do not need any special managerial skills to effectively manage a remote team. It is not as if you have to go back to university in order to lead a team from afar. With the right attitude and perspective, you can achieve the same results without any additional qualifications.

As a result, you need to modify your expectations for a remote workforce. To explain how:

  1. Communication It is evident that the successful completion of the helipad was in part due to the regular contact maintained between Clive and his foreman. Therefore, we advise that it is paramount to ensure regular communication with staff to ensure that updates and any issues can be discussed on a regular basis. By maintaining consistent communication, there is a reduced risk of someone taking a unilateral decision, similar to that of Clive.
  2. It is important to establish clear communication guidelines to ensure team members interact in the most effective manner. All team members should be aware of the channels they should use to communicate with one another, and when these channels should be utilised. It is essential to ensure that email inboxes are not neglected, especially when other communication tools such as messaging apps and phones are available.
  3. Watch the dynamic of the group closely. We’re all social creatures, but it’s especially important to foster camaraderie among your remote workforce.
  4. In order to ensure the success of your team, it is essential to set a shared target and become acquainted with each other’s abilities. Once you have gained their trust and confidence, you should be in a position to progress without any issues.
  5. It is essential that the anticipated date of availability is communicated in a clear and unambiguous manner. Arranging meetings may be challenging when employees are dispersed across a range of time zones and countries.
  6. Do you require your remote workers to adhere to standard business hours, or is there the option to let them choose their own schedules? Are there any mandatory meetings that need to be attended by employees from different parts of the world?
  7. Having an individual to take accountability for their actions helps to ensure that everything remains on track. It is essential that you communicate with your employees effectively to explain what is expected of them, as well as how they can keep you informed of their progress (or any lack thereof).
  8. At Works, we strongly advocate the Agile Remote Development Methodology, as it provides a platform for open discussion and communication. The daily stand up is an effective tool to ensure everyone is held accountable and gives a clear indication of the expectations of each team member. If you would like further information on this, please download our complimentary eBook.
  9. Despite its significance to you as a manager, increasing productivity is not our main recommendation. This is because, if you maintain the standard of your operations, your team will be able to complete their duties effectively.
  10. It is indeed true that there are software solutions available to assist with the monitoring of the productivity of a distributed workforce. However, we would not recommend using any of these, as we believe that micromanagement can be detrimental to developing trust within remote teams. We are strong advocates of performance evaluations as a means to assess the effectiveness of employees, and have faith in their ability to accomplish their work in order to reach desired results.

Methods for Establishing Goals

It is evident that there are both general requirements and more specific ones that are related to particular tasks on the list. Consequently, it is essential to ensure that everyone is in agreement while working remotely. To guarantee this, there are two key elements that must be present. The first of these is as follows:

Policy for Telecommuting

This booklet is designed to provide an overview of the essential considerations for those employees who are working remotely from home. It will address questions such as whether it is permissible to use public and unsecured networks, such as those found in coffee shops, and what the implications are if an employee is subjected to an accident or injury whilst working.

Employees should be provided with a comprehensive remote work policy that clearly outlines what expenditures they can claim. This should include things such as Health and Safety requirements, which should be straightforward to implement.

A+ Project Management

In order to manage employees who are working remotely, the same techniques which are employed in the office can be utilised. The primary difference is the need to communicate with them more frequently. However, we are aiming to do much more than just this. It is likely that you will not encounter Clive in the office break room, therefore it is important to ensure that you use a video call to remind him that helipads are not included in the plan.

It is essential to set aside time to clearly explain each assignment and to stay in contact with your team to address any worries and potential issues. It is not enough to simply be available; it is also important to create an environment where employees feel comfortable to come to you with any worries or queries at any time. The Agile Remote Development Methodology is our recommended tool to help you in this task. Additionally, we have a wide range of blog posts which provide information on how to enhance teams’ communication and collaboration.

To Get Started, Let’s Go Back to the Beginning.

At Works, we understand that recruitment is an essential component of establishing a successful team. Therefore, we take great care to ensure that potential employees are not only highly skilled in programming, but also possess the ability to work independently. If you are looking for an exceptional programmer to join your team, please do not hesitate to contact us. We would be delighted to be of assistance.

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