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4 Remote Team Management Mistakes and How to Avoid Them

4 Remote Team Management Mistakes and How to Avoid Them

Managing a team of remote workers is harder than it looks, causing plenty of mistakes to be made along the way that hinder productivity and sometimes end in hurt feelings. To help prevent these issues it’s sensible to study their causes so that you can avoid them. In this article, we are going to do exactly that.

Using Inadequate Communication Methods

When a manager is used to sending out messages to employees that are all in the same office, emails are a sufficient means of communication. In a remote working scenario, on the other hand, employees have not had the benefit of meeting in the same place, so short, summarizing emails will not communicate enough information for remote employees to be fully informed.

If the manager is uncomfortable using video communication tools, they may avoid using them with remote workers. However, sticking to email alone creates subsequent difficulties because remote workers haven’t had the benefit of face-to-face meetings before the written communication. To fix this, all managers of remote workers must embrace video calls to make personal connections with remote team members.

Accepting Limited Access to Employee Information

Managers often rely solely on the restrictive information stored in Google Calendar, but the problem with this information is that it’s not complete and it is hard to customize the calendar to make it truly useful. In a scenario where records are incomplete, managers are at a disadvantage because it makes answering questions or resolving issues quickly difficult because bits of information are stored all over the place.

To make it easier to access calendar information, there’s a tool for Google Calendar users that allows you to export data to Excel. From there, the spreadsheet can be updated to place all the information a manager needs in one place. When on a video call or wanting to answer an inquiry quickly, the Excel sheet makes it possible to do so.

Micromanaging as a Management Strategy

Part of the attraction of working remotely is the greater freedom that being away from the office affords employees. By not being in the office physically, remote workers do not have a manager looking over their shoulder at random intervals to cause them anxiety.

However, for managers who are used to having employees to check up on personally, this seeming lack of control is disturbing. As a result, they make the mistake of attempting to micromanage from a distance, leading to a virtual flurry of communications between themselves and team members. Unfortunately, this is not a welcome stream of communication. This causes employees to be irritated at management and leads to a loss in morale (and likely, productivity too).

To resolve this, managers need to set clear parameters for what work is required and by when. Arranging dates and times for the team to check-in can also reduce their concerns about a lack of oversight and stop their tendency to micromanage remote staff.

Believing Remote Staff Don’t Work as Hard

A common misconception that management staff have about remote workers is that they don’t work as hard as office workers. This belief persists even though there are studies confirming that most people in the office only work 3-3.5 hours each workday and spend the rest of the time actively not working. It’s probably worth dispelling the myth that remote workers aren’t busy as well. A study by the Harvard Business Review found that remote workers are over 13 percent more effective than office-bound ones.

While there are plenty of mistakes that a remote supervisor can make, they’re all fixable if the manager is aware of where the issue is stemming from, which is great news for managers wanting better results and fewer interpersonal headaches to deal with too.


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by Dirk DeBie // Contributor to Businessing Magazine.

Opinions expressed by contributors are their own.