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managing a distributed team

Managing a distributed team – how to improve it?

Remote work brings various benefits to organizations and employees, but leaders of distributed teams face numerous challenges. In this article, we discuss how to improve the management process in such a work environment and provide practical guidance and strategies aimed at enhancing efficiency and collaboration.

Managing a distributed team – introduction

The common denominator among all distributed teams is, of course, remote work. Depending on their needs and organizational models, members of distributed teams can work while rarely or never meeting in person. These teams often comprise individuals working in different cities, states, or even countries, either independently or in different branches of their companies. Employees can fulfill their professional responsibilities, communicate, and collaborate thanks to advanced technology that has evolved in recent years.

managing a distributed team - remote management

Challenges in managing a distributed team

Distributed teams working remotely offer cost savings, reduced disruption risks, and access to global talents for most organizations. Employees appreciate this working model for its flexibility, autonomy, and reduced commuting costs. However, the physical distance and lack of a physical presence bring significant challenges for leaders managing distributed teams. These challenges typically include:

  • Communication and collaboration
  • Project and task management
  • Time management and productivity
  • Building organizational culture and employee engagement
  • Security risks related to data and information accessibility

How to Improve Managing a Distributed Team

Efficient, empathetic, and, above all, effective management of distributed teams is expected from contemporary leaders. How can this be achieved?

managing a distributed team hybrid work

Communication and collaboration

Effective collaboration among distributed teams relies on efficient communication, primarily facilitated by the right tools. Choosing the appropriate internal communication platform can address the issue of using too many applications and communication noise while smoothing interactions among team members. It is good practice to establish common communication rules, including availability hours, preferred communication channels, expected response times to messages, and the frequency of team meetings. Regular online meetings are also important, allowing team members to share progress, discuss goals and challenges, and build less formal relationships.

Project and task management

A unique set of features embedded in platforms like Workai allows effective management of team goals and tasks when they don’t meet in person daily. In such a work environment, task allocation and responsibilities must be precise and understandable to all. This also applies to project management, where collaborative planning of activities and mutual accountability are crucial.

Helpful tools include:

  • The “Tasks” feature in the Workai mobile app,
  • Working in project groups through Workai Connections,
  • The ability to collaborate on documents using Workai Knowledge. 
managing a distributed team - tasks

Time management and productivity

Setting realistic tasks for the team, effective planning, and providing feedback regularly are the most commonly mentioned strategies to boost productivity in distributed teams. In this context, productivity management primarily depends on the support of experienced leaders who can set priorities and provide their teams with what they need at any given moment. Collaboratively developing the best strategies for organizing work and time management with the team is crucial because autonomy, trust, and appreciation are the greatest allies of high productivity. Modern technologies, although essential, only serve as support for the actions of a wise leader.

Culture and engagement

Employee engagement is, among other things, the result of a friendly organizational culture, a sense of community, and appreciation. In managing distributed teams, these elements are less obvious due to the distance and the reduced number of casual interactions, such as lunch in the company cafeteria or hallway chats. Roy Maurer of SHRM emphasizes that, given these limitations, the most important step is, once again, understanding the needs of employees and determining what influences their engagement and what they expect from their leader and organization.

managing a distributed team addressbook_

Data security and accessibility

Effective management of distributed teams should not overlook information security, which includes: 

  • Using secure tools and platforms that employ data encryption, two-factor authentication, and access monitoring.
  • Adhering to strong password practices.
  • Establishing and following a robust security policy, including guidelines for handling sensitive data, maintaining information confidentiality, and responding to security incidents.
  • Providing employees with data security training.

Distributed teams must also ensure work continuity in case of system failures or data loss. Therefore, remember to maintain backups and systematically adjust and update security procedures and policies in response to evolving threats and technological advancements.

The Workai platform supports various aspects of managing distributed teams, streamlining communication, reducing the number of applications used by the team, and facilitating the flow of knowledge and documents. This allows leaders to focus on setting the right priorities and building interpersonal relationships, which are crucial in remote teams.

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