Remote Team Leadership Hacks

Team leadership in remote work settings requires different skills than in regular office settings. When the pandemic started, many team leaders felt like they had little or no education and preparation. Before the pandemic, 77% of team leaders had never managed a fully remote team, and 89% had never managed a partially remote team.

As a company that works fully remotely, we can share some hacks with you. Whether you’re managing or being managed, check out our advice on remote team leadership.

The challenges of remote team leadership

Remote team leadership requires all kinds of duties, especially if you’re dealing with new employees.

First of all, you have to provide your employees with all the technologies and information needed for a smooth workflow.

Sometimes employees don’t want to bother their colleagues by pinging them all the time so they’ll try to find information on their own, losing a lot of valuable time. If you clearly communicate where they can find the information or who to contact for help, they’ll be much faster and more efficient.

Another major challenge is social isolation, loneliness and remote communication. A good team leader will find a way to grasp how their colleagues feel and if they are facing any challenges. Remote work also makes it easy for some employees to separate, only communicate with each other, and avoid all the other colleagues. Team leaders should be able to integrate the whole team, even after breaks in communication have already happened.

So, let’s dive into our top remote team leadership hacks that will help you overcome these challenges!

#1 Clear communication

Choosing the right communication tools should be a top priority in remote team leadership. Some team leaders choose video, some use email, and instant messaging tools like Slack or phone calls.

Some find it’s a good thing to use only one means of communication, while others choose different tools for different types of communication. For example, if you need a piece of information urgently, you might opt for instant messaging or a phone call. If you’ve remembered something late in the evening, you could schedule an email to a colleague for early in the morning in order not to bother them after hours.

Whatever you choose, make sure that your team know in which situation they should use a particular communication tool. Sometimes having a million different apps for the simple goal of getting your message across isn’t the best option. Study carefully which communication channels would fit your team best and set up a well-structured communication system.

#2 Collaboration

Typically, your team will work on different but connected tasks in a project. Together, they will reach a common goal and meet the deadlines but only if it’s clear who should be doing what and when.

Project management tools like Asana can help your team organize, track, and manage their work by projects. They make visible what’s already been done and what is still due.

Frequently, multiple employees need access to the same information and documents. To put them all in one place and enable collaborating, creating, editing and accessing web-based documents, spreadsheets, and presentations from any computer, we use Google Docs.

#3 Set goals, deadlines and expectations

One of the most prominent features of remote work is great independence. As long as you get your tasks done professionally and on time, it’s not important how exactly you do it and what the rest of your day looks like. This is the “focus on the results, not hours” mentality that all remote teams should adopt as soon as possible.

In other words, once you get into the swing of things, you’ll become faster and more efficient. You won’t be stuck in your office waiting for your working hours to end. There certainly won’t be a boss looking over your shoulder and checking whether you’re working under their terms.

But, to achieve that level of independence, successful remote team leadership has to ensure that every employee knows their deadlines and expectations. If a team leader clearly communicates what the goal is in a specified period, the team members should be able to function independently.

Similarly, overtime should not be demanded. Make sure that all employees meet their deadlines and in that way, they’ll have the healthy work-life balance we all need.

#4 Achieve balance

As we’ve explained, remote team leaders should be perfectly clear about their team’s responsibilities. They should check in with them regularly to see if they understand everything and if they need help.

But, apart from professional communication, good team leadership means never losing that human touch. You know, light-hearted banter, humour, positivity and good rapport between colleagues… That’s what keeps a team together.

These things are hard to accomplish online, but it’s not impossible. For example, in our team, at the beginning of every day, a different team member sends the rest of us a funny meme or a motivational quote. We also have monthly video team meetings when we play games to wind down a little bit. If possible, you could also organise in-person social events or team buildings once in a while.

In the end

Remote team leadership brings its own challenges that require different skills. This includes achieving clear communication between all employees, using the right communication and collaboration tools and nurturing good rapport in the team.