Wundamail Weekly | Remote Control: Keeping Distant Teams Accountable

Date posted:
Thu 06 June 2019

For leaders and businesses across the globe, the problem with remote working is the physical distance. Managers believe that if they cannot see the employee, they will underperform significantly, yet still collect a paycheck at the end of the month. Whilst this isn’t always the case, it can still be a concern for those bosses taking a leap towards managing flexible teams.

Rebecca from Wundamail is here with some tactics to ensure that your remote team won’t be tempted to take advantage.

So, you’ve finally given in and agreed to let some of your team work remotely. Or perhaps, your bosses have decided to start offering it to attract more new (maybe younger) recruits? Either way, you’re now having to face the unique challenge of trying to monitor people who are spread all over the place, whilst keeping the guys back in the office in check. So, the big question is how do you ensure that everyone is doing what they’re supposed to be doing without being overbearing?

Set Your Boundaries

Much like any role, both parties need to know what they’re signing up for. Whether this is in the interview phase or in induction, you both need to be clear about the parameters of your flexible workers. This would include shift timings; do they still need to adhere to 9-5.30 GMT office hours or can they work earlier or later? Make sure there is some crossover in shift times, even if it’s a couple of hours just in case something big happens where you need to instantly get hold of them. This needs to be outlined from the offset, especially if location and time zones are factors - you don’t want to be wondering where they are if it’s 3am their time and they’ve already done their eight hours whilst you were asleep.

Similarly, if they’re local enough to come into the office on occasion, you need to agree on when and how often this might be. Obviously they won’t have a permanent desk, but they might need to come in for a full team meeting and the like. This is something that they definitely need to be aware of every once in a while so that they’re not caught off guard when they’re expected to be in the office. Knowing what you’re both heading into makes it easier for both of you to manage your expectations of how much contact you’ll actually have on a day-to-day basis.

Each day, Wundamail sends a question to the whole team, then compiles the responses into a single group email. Team activity is collated, condensed and circulated for all to see - no apps, usernames, or passwords needed. Just like that, a daily feedback loop promotes accountability, unlocks insight, and keeps teamwork efficient and inclusive. No matter where you are in the world you can receive it as long as you have an email address.

Keep The Workload Coming

This is especially important if you’re not both online at exactly the same time. Now, by no means does this mean that remote workers should be doing twice the work of their office counterparts or that they need to be buried in unrealistic deadlines - that’s the opposite of what this is. You simply need to make sure that they don’t run out of things to do, if you’re not on shift at the same time.

Remote workers on the whole are pretty adept at managing their time and their own schedules, which is why you can trust them to get on with the task at hand. They can only do that however, if you assign tasks to them. You can make it clear that they don’t need to be all rushed through, but if they’ve got nothing to do and you’re uncontactable then they might become disengaged with the role.

Obviously some days are always busier than others, but Wundamail allows you to monitor how your entire team is doing, whether they’re running low on tasks or they’re struggling a bit with a high workload. It’s an easy way to spot the progress of your team straightaway, and root out if anyone isn’t pulling their weight.

Ask Meaningful Questions

If something is not going right, it’s time to ask some serious questions within your team. This is the same whether you’re in the office of halfway around the world. By giving your team members an opportunity to come forward and explain what went wrong or why something hasn’t been done yet, you can better see where your employee’s strengths and weaknesses are.

This is even more important when dealing with remote workers where the conversational rapport might not necessarily be there, as it would with office-based counterparts. There is an isolation factor that often comes with being a remote worker. This can prevent them from feeling like they can raise any potential issues, regarding the team, despite them being a part of it from afar. By asking a simple, but open question to the entire team where everyone has a responsibility to reply, it breaks down these barriers and shows who is truly accountable for any mishaps.

Being able to hold any team members accountable is an important part of running a successful team, and it can be tricky sometimes when not all employees are physically present, but if you keep the communication open and everyone knows what is expected of them, it can be a painless process.