How to manage a remote team: a 2023 guide to best practices

As companies increasingly adopt remote working models, it becomes critical to understand how to manage a remote team. This transition changes the way teams collaborate and companies operate.

From the benefits of tapping into a global talent pool to the challenges of maintaining team cohesion, managing remote teams presents a unique set of dynamics.

Managers and business leaders must be equipped with the right strategies, tools, and best practices to navigate this terrain effectively. Below is a brief overview of the key aspects covered in our comprehensive analysis:

  • Definition and Models of Remote Work;
  • Advantages and Challenges of Remote Work;
  • Essential Skills for Remote Managers:
  • Hiring and Onboarding Strategies;
  • Best Practices for Managing Remote Teams;
  • Key Tools and Technologies;
  • Strategies for Team Engagement and Motivation;
  • Security and Compliance Considerations;
  • Performance Measurement and KPIs;
  • Training, Development, and Well-being Initiatives.

The Challenges of Managing Remote Teams

A remote team refers to a group of individuals who collaborate and operate remotely together from different geographical locations, primarily relying on digital communication tools and platforms.

Remote work can be categorized into various models:

  • Fully Remote: Employees work entirely from remote locations.
  • Hybrid: A blend of in-office and virtual work

Each model has its advantages. While fully remote models offer complete flexibility, hybrid models can provide a balance between personal interaction and remote efficiency.

This transition to a remote setting has transformed how to manage a remote team, moving away from traditional management styles and leading to the creation of new best practices and strategies.

The shift towards remote operations while offering numerous advantages, also presents a unique set of challenges for managers.

To successfully manage a remote team from afar requires a different skill set and approach compared to traditional in-office management.

Common Challenges Faced by Managers
  • Lack of Face-to-Face Interaction
  • Tracking Progress
  • Maintaining Team Morale
The Impact of Distance and Time Zones
  • Scheduling Conflicts
  • Delayed Responses
  • Cultural Differences
Communication Barriers
  • Misunderstandings
  • Over-reliance on Written Communication
  • Technical Issues
Ensuring Productivity and Accountability
  • Trust vs. Micromanagement
  • Setting Clear Expectations
  • Regular Check-ins
Building Team Cohesion and Culture
  • Fostering a Sense of Belonging
  • Organizing Virtual Team-building Activities
  • Celebrating Achievements

In conclusion, while managing remote teams comes with its set of challenges, understanding these issues and proactively addressing them can lead to a cohesive, productive, and motivated team.

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Essential Skills for Remote Managers

To manage remote teams, managers need to adapt and cultivate a distinct set of skills to lead their groups effectively.

Let’s look at them.

AspectKey Points
Effective Communication
  • Clarity
  • Active Listening
  • Consistent Updates
  • Understanding Individual Circumstances
  • Offering Support
  • Building Trust
  • Adapting to Change
  • Respecting Time Zones
  • Being Open to Feedback
Technological Proficiency
  • Mastering Remote Tools
  • Troubleshooting
  • Staying Updated

In essence, being a successful remote manager goes beyond just managing tasks. It’s about connecting with team members, understanding their challenges, and leveraging technology to create a seamless work environment.

Hiring and Onboarding for Remote Teams

The shift towards remote work has reshaped the hiring landscape, necessitating new strategies and approaches for building effective groups. From sourcing the right talent to ensuring they integrate seamlessly into the company culture, the process of hiring and onboarding for remote teams presents its unique challenges and opportunities.

remote hiring challenges

Guidelines for Recruiting Remote Talent

When looking to manage remote employees or manage remote workers, it’s essential to have a recruitment process tailored to the remote context.

This means not just evaluating a candidate’s skills and experience but also their ability:

  • to work autonomously,
  • communicate effectively,
  • adapt to the remote work environment.

Tips to help streamline this process include clear job descriptions highlighting remote work expectations, using platforms specialized in remote job listings, and assessing a candidate’s previous remote work experience.

Virtual Interview Techniques

The virtual interview is a cornerstone of remote hiring. While the fundamentals of interviewing remain, there are nuances to consider in a virtual setting.

It’s crucial to ensure both parties have:

  • a stable internet connection,
  • use platforms that allow for smooth video and audio interactions,
  • have a backup plan in case of technical glitches.

Additionally, managing groups remotely means understanding the importance of cultural fit and team dynamics, even from afar. Thus, incorporating member interactions or group assessments can offer insights into how potential team members work together.

Onboarding Processes Tailored for Remote Employees

Once the hiring decision is made, the onboarding process becomes paramount. Remote employees don’t have the luxury of physical orientation sessions or face-to-face introductions. Therefore, it’s essential to have a structured remote onboarding process.

4 suggestions to consider include:

  1. providing clear documentation,
  2. setting up virtual meet-and-greets with team members,
  3. making sure they possess the essential tools and software,
  4. assigning a mentor or buddy to help team members understand their role and the company culture.

Recognizing that remote employees might feel isolated, especially at the beginning, can guide managers in creating an onboarding experience that makes them feel welcomed and integrated.

In essence, while it might be hard to manage the complexities of hiring and onboarding remotely, with the right strategies and a focus on clear communication, companies can build and lead a remote team that is cohesive, productive, and aligned with the organization’s goals.

How to Manage a Remote Team Using 7 Best Practices

One of the challenges managers face is ensuring that their teams remain cohesive, productive and engaged. Adopting best practices suited to the remote context can make a significant difference in the way groups operate and collaborate effectively.

Managing remote teams effectively requires a blend of structured processes, open communication, and a genuine understanding of each member’s unique challenges and contributions.

1. Setting Clear Expectations

A fundamental step to manage remote teams is establishing clear expectations. It’s vital for team members to understand their roles, responsibilities, and the outcomes expected of them.

This clarity not only guides their daily tasks but also provides a roadmap for their contributions to the broader team objectives.

2. Prioritizing Onboarding and Training

A well-structured onboarding process ensures that new hires integrate seamlessly into the team. Beyond the initial onboarding, continuous training is essential, ensuring that all team members are equipped with the skills and knowledge they need to excel in their roles.

3. The Importance of Regular Check-ins and One-on-Ones

Regular check-ins provide an opportunity to address concerns, clarify doubts, and offer guidance. One-on-one sessions, in particular, allow for deeper discussions, enabling managers to understand individual challenges and provide tailored support.

4. Designating Specific Communication Channels

Effective communication is the lifeblood of remote teams. By designating specific channels for different types of communication, managers can ensure that information flows smoothly and that teams work cohesively.

For instance, a dedicated channel for project updates might be separate from one used for general team discussions.

5. Balancing Outcomes Over Activity

In a remote setting, it’s easy to focus on visible activity, like online status or hours logged. However, the focus should be on results.

Managers should trust their team’s ability to manage their time and focus on the results they produce.

6. Creating a Virtual Space

Building team camaraderie in a remote environment can be challenging. Creating a virtual water cooler for informal interactions, akin to an office water cooler, can foster a sense of community and belonging, making team members feel more connected.

7. Gathering Feedback and Being Receptive to Change

The remote operational landscape is dynamic, and what functions today might need adjustments tomorrow. Regularly gathering feedback from team members and being open to making changes ensures that the team’s processes and tools evolve in line with their needs.

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Tools to Manage a Remote Team Effectively

The digital age has ushered in a plethora of tools and technologies designed to bridge the gap created by geographical distances in remote work.

These tools not only enhance productivity but also ensure that teams remain cohesive and aligned. Here’s a deeper exploration:

Communication Tools

  • Slack: This instant messaging platform has revolutionized team communication. With its channel-based structure, teams can organize conversations by projects, departments, or any other criteria. Integrations with other tools and the ability to send direct messages make it a favorite among remote teams.
  • Microsoft Teams: A comprehensive communication tool that offers chat, video conferencing, and file storage. Its integration with other Microsoft products makes it a one-stop solution for many businesses.

Project Management Tools

  • Trello: A visual card-based system that allows teams to organize tasks, set deadlines, and assign responsibilities. Its simplicity and intuitive design make it easy for groups to track project progress.
  • Asana: Beyond just task management, Asana offers features like timeline views, workload assessments, and automation, making project management streamlined and efficient.

Virtual Meeting Platforms

  • Zoom: In the wake of the remote work boom, Zoom emerged as a leading video conferencing tool. Its features like breakout rooms, virtual backgrounds, and webinar capabilities make it versatile for both formal meetings and informal team gatherings.
  • Google Meet: Integrated with Google Workspace, Meet offers secure and high-quality video conferencing. Its ease of use and no need for software installations make it a popular choice for many remote teams.

Collaboration and File Sharing

  • Google Drive: A cloud-based storage solution where teams can create, store, and collaborate on documents, spreadsheets, and presentations in real-time.
  • Dropbox: A file hosting service that allows teams to store files, share links, and collaborate on documents seamlessly.

Time Management and Productivity

  • RescueTime: An application that tracks time spent on various tasks, helping remote employees understand their productivity patterns and managers to ensure efficient time utilization.
  • Clockify: A simple time tracker and timesheet app that lets teams track work hours across projects.

Security Tools

  • VPN (Virtual Private Network): Ensures secure and encrypted connections, especially crucial for remote teams accessing company data from different locations.
  • LastPass: A password manager that stores encrypted passwords online, ensuring team members use strong, unique passwords for different tools without the need to remember them all.

In conclusion, the right tools and technologies are the backbone of successful remote work. They not only simplify tasks but also ensure that teams remain connected, aligned, and productive, irrespective of where they are located.

Tactics to Keep a Remote Team Engaged and Motivated

In the realm of remote work, keeping teams engaged and motivated can be a unique challenge. Without the traditional office environment’s camaraderie and face-to-face interactions, managers must employ innovative strategies to ensure their teams remain enthusiastic, committed, and aligned with the company’s vision.

Recognizing and Rewarding Achievements

One of the most effective ways to boost morale and motivation is by recognizing and rewarding achievements. Celebrating milestones, whether big or small, can make team members feel valued and appreciated. Regular shout-outs in virtual meetings, performance bonuses, or even simple acknowledgment emails can go a long way in reinforcing positive behaviors and fostering a culture of appreciation.

Providing Opportunities for Career Progression

Remote workers, just like their in-office counterparts, seek growth and development in their roles. Providing opportunities for career progression is crucial. This could be in the form of training programs, workshops, or even clear pathways to promotions. Ensuring that team members see a future within the organization can significantly enhance their commitment and drive.

Organizing Virtual Team-Building Activities

Building a sense of community and camaraderie in a remote setting can be challenging but not impossible. Organizing virtual team-building activities, such as online games, trivia sessions, or even virtual coffee breaks, can help team members connect on a personal level. These interactions, while informal, can strengthen bonds and improve collaboration in professional tasks.

Ensuring Work-Life Balance and Preventing Burnout

The lines between job duties and personal life can often blur in a remote job setting, leading to potential burnout. Managers must emphasize the importance of work-life balance. This could be by encouraging team members to take regular breaks, setting clear boundaries for job hours, or even providing resources on mindfulness and stress management. A well-rested and balanced group is more likely to be productive and engaged.

In conclusion, keeping remote groups engaged and motivated requires a blend of recognition, growth opportunities, community-building, and a focus on well-being. By prioritizing these aspects, managers can ensure their teams remain passionate and dedicated, driving the organization towards its goals.

Ensuring Security & Compliance in Remote Team Management

In the digital era, as more businesses shift to remote work, the importance of security and compliance is paramount. Members, often working from diverse locations, might access company resources from unprotected networks or devices, heightening the risk of breaches.

Moreover, with the global group spread across different regions, adhering to international data protection regulations is crucial.

To effectively manage remote teams, managers need comprehensive guidance that focuses on robust cybersecurity measures. Tools such as virtual private networks (VPNs) and multi-factor authentication are critical to ensuring security.

Project management software should be equipped with security features, and meetings should prioritize discussions on the latest security protocols. 

Compliance, especially when managing employees across borders, can be intricate.

From GDPR to CCPA, a remote leader must be well-versed in the regulations that impact their remote or hybrid workforce.

Encouraging team members to communicate and stay informed about these rules can bolster compliance efforts. Regular audits and appointing dedicated officers can further ensure alignment with these regulations.

Performance Measurement and KPIs

In a remote work environment, measuring performance can be different from traditional settings. Without the physical presence of members, managers need clear metrics to gauge productivity and efficiency.

Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) provide a quantifiable measure of how effectively a team or individual is achieving business objectives.

For, these might include:

  • metrics related to project completion rates,
  • client feedback,
  • task turnaround times.

Setting clear and relevant KPIs ensures everyone understands what’s expected and can align their efforts accordingly.

With the right tools, managers can monitor work progress and ensure tasks are being completed efficiently.

Regular check-ins, performance reviews, and feedback sessions can help evaluate performance, identify areas of improvement, and provide necessary support.

reviewing KPIs for a virtual team

Training and Development

Continuous learning is essential in the fast-evolving world of business today. For remote teams, this means providing accessible and relevant training opportunities.

Remote employees should have access to a variety of learning resources, from online courses to webinars. This not only helps in skill development but also keeps them engaged and motivated.

With advancements in technology, there are numerous platforms tailored for remote training. These tools offer features like interactive sessions, progress tracking, and certification, ensuring a comprehensive learning experience.

Mental Health and Well-being

The remote work model, while offering flexibility, can also lead to feelings of isolation and burnout. Addressing these challenges is crucial for maintaining a healthy and productive team.

Organizing regular virtual team-building activities, encouraging breaks, and promoting a healthy work-life balance can help combat feelings of isolation.

Companies should provide resources like counseling services, mental health webinars, and platforms where employees can discuss their feelings and challenges openly.

Cost Implications of Remote Work

While remote work can lead to significant savings, it also requires investment in the right tools and technologies.

One of the immediate benefits of remote operations is the reduction in overhead costs, from office rentals to daily utilities.

To ensure efficiency, companies need to invest in collaboration tools, security software, and training platforms tailored for remote activities.


In the changing landscape, managing remote teams has become more complex than ever before. The rise of the remote workforce, along with the nuances of remote and hybrid models, has presented both challenges and opportunities for companies.

Remote workers may face unique obstacles, from managing time zone differences to promoting distant collaboration. However, with the right tips for managing remote teams, remote team managers can ensure that team members work together seamlessly, regardless of their geographic location.

It is essential that they focus on team building, ensuring that the entire team remains cohesive and aligned.

A productive remote group is not just about managing people or tasks, but also about creating an environment where remote communication is thriving and teams can work together harmoniously.

As virtual groups become the norm, advice on how to effectively manage these teams is invaluable. Engaging remote workers, ensuring productivity, and keeping the team united are critical to the success of a remote team.

If you would like to learn more about working with a remote team, understand the nuances of managing people in different time zones, or seek new remote strategies to keep your team members motivated, please feel free to request more information.



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