Essential Tools for Remote Teams to Achieve Greater Collaboration - 5 Best People Management Strategies for Distributed Teams

Over the last few years, the prevalence of digital technology and the rise of remote working models have redefined the traditional work environment. Businesses are no longer restricted to hiring within geographic boundaries, and entrepreneurs can tap into a global talent pool that offers diversity and specialized skill sets.

Distributed teams bring companies a host of advantages, including reduced overhead costs and perceptible efficiency gains. However, this novel approach to work isn’t without its challenges.

Communication barriers, time zone discrepancies, and the potential for misaligned goals can throw a wrench into the smooth operation of distributed teams.

When you’re not sharing a physical office space, even simple tasks like team meetings or project coordination can become complex undertakings. You’ll need a well-conceived strategy and appropriate tools to surmount these challenges and unlock your team’s full potential. 

Here are five simple but effective people management strategies that work for distributed teams:

People Management Strategies

Leverage Digital Technology

Digital technology is a large part of what has made remote work not only possible but actively value-adding for companies over the years. Hence, leveraging the digital solutions available to you is one surefire way to set your team up for success.

Video conferencing software, for instance, is ideal for both formal meetings and for social interactions that can be hard to come by in a remote setup.

Scheduled video lunches or coffee breaks can make team members feel part of a cohesive unit, replicating the social aspects of a physical workplace to improve team morale and cohesion.

Task management software, another essential tool, can completely overhaul how a distributed team handles work.

This type of digital solution provides a centralized space for all project-related data, offers real-time updates on task status, and integrates easily with other tools that a team might be using. Everyone is aware of who is doing what and by when, creating a system of accountability and efficiency.

But the utility of digital technology doesn’t end there; effective payroll system software is an often-overlooked but crucial part of remote team management.

A digital payroll system simplifies the disbursement of salaries and benefits, and it also ensures tax compliance. It eliminates the complexities and uncertainties often associated with handling payroll manually, thereby fostering a culture of trust and transparency in financial matters.

For startups and SMEs with employees in need of an efficient Philippine payroll system, Maya Disbursements by Maya Business is one viable digital option to consider. This digital payroll management system allows companies to automate employee salaries, incentives, allowances, and other disbursements on a fixed schedule, guaranteeing timely and hassle-free payments. 

Practice Transparent Communication

Effective communication, while crucial in any professional setting, becomes even more so when working with a distributed team.

Since it’s impossible to simply go by a colleague’s desk or step into a supervisor’s office to address a concern quickly, you and your team members will need to make use of digital communication tools to bridge the gap.

Instant messaging platforms, for instance, allow for real-time conversations and can serve as a virtual hub for team interaction. Consider setting up specialized channels for different projects, departments, and even social activities. This helps compartmentalize discussions and keeps team members on track.

Simply using the right tools won’t guarantee transparent communication, however. You’ll also need to build a team culture where information is shared freely and deliberately companywide.

Regular team updates, either through scheduled meetings or newsletters, are other people management strategies that will keep everyone aligned on company goals and individual responsibilities. 

Allow Flexible Hours and Asynchronous Work

The conventional 9-to-5 workday doesn’t translate well in a remote setting that spans multiple continents, as it doesn’t comfortably accommodate complexities like timezone differences.

Instead of forcing your team to abide by this setup, which can rapidly lead to miscommunication and logistical pitfalls, consider embracing a more flexible schedule.

Focus on deliverables instead of set work hours, and encourage your team to work whenever they’re most productive. Chances are, they’ll be more satisfied with their jobs, and you can look forward to higher-quality output.

Another approach to consider is asynchronous work, which eliminates the expectation of immediate responses and allows for more thoughtful, less rushed communication. Team members can update their status or complete tasks without waiting for others to go online and enjoy an autonomy that’s not often feasible in a traditional work setup.

This freedom, in turn, will also help reduce stress and prevent burnout, enabling your team members to continue working their best for the long term.

Create Team-Building Opportunities

The next one of the people management strategies you can apply is to create team-building opportunities.

The lack of face-to-face interactions in a remote work environment can make team members feel isolated and disengaged. Opportunities for virtual team-building can help mitigate these difficulties and give your team a chance at personal, human connection.

Virtual events such as online trivia, team challenges, or simple video catch-ups can go a long way in maintaining team cohesion and morale.

Beyond being entertaining bonding opportunities, these activities help team members understand each other’s work styles and personalities, which fosters better collaboration.

Encourage Open Feedback

A culture of continuous improvement is vital for the growth and longevity of any business. Open feedback plays a pivotal role in achieving this.

Encourage team members to speak their minds openly, whether it’s positive comments or constructive criticism. Create channels—for example,  through anonymous surveys or regular team retrospectives—where team members can offer feedback without fear of retribution.

Such open dialogue can create learning opportunities for the entire team, including the management, as certain employees might have the perspective to identify areas for improvement that would otherwise go overlooked.

Are you ready to implement people management strategies in your team?

Managing a distributed team presents unique challenges, but it also offers companies unparalleled opportunities for innovation. While technology serves as the infrastructure that makes remote work possible, it’s the intentional cultivation of culture, communication, and flexibility that makes a team thrive.