Working with a remote team is challenging, especially if you are scattered around the globe and have to manage each other’s time zones as well. However, remote work is also one of the most rewarding ways to collaborate with others, especially with a solid time management action plan in place.
According to Small Biz Genius, 40% of people find flexible scheduling to be the greatest benefit of remote work. 76% of employees have expressed that they would willingly stay with their current employers if a more flexible, well-organized workflow was implemented. How can you write a time management action plan for your remote team in 2021, and what are the benefits and pitfalls of doing so?
Why Write a Time Management Action Plan for your Remote Team?
Before we dive further into time management, let’s discuss the benefits of taking this approach to managing your remote team. Why go through the trouble of breaking down an action plan for managing time if your team already has clear goals to work on?
According to Business 2 Community, 46% of employees stated that managers should check in with their teams frequently and be closely acquainted with their work. The same study indicated that remote teams can be 20-25% more productive than on-site teams with proper planning and remote team collaboration in place.
As a manager, your job is to deliver the results for your clients as efficiently as possible, also taking care of your remote team. Burnout, poor motivation, stress, and absenteeism are serious issues that can crop up very easily if you mismanage your team’s available time and resources. However, with a proper time management action plan in place, you can look forward to several benefits for your team going forward, including:
- Giving your team a much clearer sense of purpose and workflow
- Creating a results-driven, collaborative workspace
- Ability to schedule each team member’s routine as needed
- Better management of workflow distractions
- Improved end-product quality and client satisfaction
Skills Which Will Make you a More Effective Remote Team Manager
How prepared are you to manage a remote team? Working with colleagues in an office or small startup is very different compared to remote work, especially if you work in a multilingual team. Remote team managers often need to go out of their way to develop new skills, which will help them become better at their jobs.
This is essential if you want others to follow along with your time management action plan, doubly so if you work remotely from day one. As such, the skills you should work on daily as a remote team manager include:
- Being up-to-date with everything happening on your team
- Showing empathy and understanding for your coworkers’ personal lives
- Being on the lookout for issues within your team and helping to resolve them
- Bridging the gap in diversity and cultural differences among remote coworkers
- Positivity and inspiration for your coworkers in times of adversity
(Woman reclining on her palm looking into the distance with laptop, phone, notebook, and mug in front of her)
Designing a Time Management Action Plan
- Set Clear KPIs for your Remote Team to Follow
To take full advantage of a time management action plan, you should set clear objectives for your team to pursue going forward. Different remote teams will gravitate towards different work methodologies, and it is up to you and your team to find your ideal workflow. Using a Team App can be of great benefit in this case, as it will let you manage your team through a centralized platform.
Similarly, using an objective goal methodology to set up KPIs and milestones is a must to avoid unnecessary lapses in productivity. Keep in mind that you should set goals together with your team, not in a vacuum, especially if you aren’t familiar with each job description. Setting up unattainable goals based on an idealized vision of your remote team will simply lead to everyone ignoring said action plan.
- Start Tracking Time Properly Sooner Rather than Later
Even though you work remotely, time-tracking is an important element to consider when creating your time management action plan (hence the name). Instead of setting up goals and forgoing a set working schedule, talk to your team about setting up a Check-In App for everyone to use. Such a tool will help manage your team’s productivity and ensure that everyone pitches in on the project as much as possible.
As a manager, you will gain valuable insight into each person’s work habits and be able to coach them to be more productive more easily. Trying to introduce a time-tracking app further into your workflow may cause distrust and communication issues however, so do it as soon as possible. This will help you set the right expectations and standards for your joint remote work action plan early on.
- Learn to Prioritize Tasks Based on Urgency
With a time-tracking app and team management app in place, you will be more ready than ever to start managing your team’s time effectively. However, not every project or task that comes your way will be as important as the ones already on your agenda. With that, it’s time to talk about prioritizing based on deadlines and urgency.
You can prioritize your tasks in several ways, including color-coding, using cascading lists, or numbering each task for your team to tend to. Whichever approach you choose to use, your team should be aware of any changes made to the list of priorities as the change happens. You can set up automatic notifications or manually let each member of your team know that you’ve made a change to the list of priorities.
Doing this can affect your time management action plan considerably and save you the precious hours you need to finish up an important project. Make sure not to play around with your task schedule too much however as it can have negative effects on your remote team. No one likes micromanagement, and leaving room for your team to focus on what they are working on now can sometimes be the best solution.
(Woman with headphones in front of her laptop taking notes from her remote coworkers via video chat)
- Plan Team and Individual Work Hours in Advance
While there are undoubtedly some tasks that your remote team members can tend to individually, you should also organize team hours. Spending several hours each week working on the same things, pitching ideas, and solving common problems will do wonders for your team’s engagement.
Similarly, it will allow you to delegate work more quickly, discuss future workdays with everyone and address upcoming holidays or days off for individuals. Avoid being the only contact your team members have between one another – this is a terrible idea that will splinter your team quickly. Team-building can also find its way into your common teamwork hours to let everyone relax a bit and enjoy each other’s company.
- Make Time for Personal Check-Ins with your Remote Team
Beyond managing your remote team’s time through an action plan, you should also make time for personal check-ins with each team member. Coaching is a pivotal part of being a manager, and you can gain trust and respect by showing interest in each person’s development.
This shouldn’t take away from your daily workflow and be relegated to free time, so plan your time carefully. You can use the OKDissertations writing platform to draft an outline of how you will coach each person on your remote team. Then, you can edit that paper with new tidbits about their personality, professional goals, and aspirations to design a better work environment for them.
The purpose of coaching isn’t to simply make your team members feel better – it is to make them more effective parts of your remote team. With some patience, your coworkers will open up to you and feel like more integral parts of the remote team than ever before.
- Recognize and Reward Performers Periodically
As time goes on, certain members of your team will start to stand out as productive individuals with a lot of heart and motivation. You should recognize their efforts adequately and reward them symbolically during team meetings. Rewarding individuals on your team on a bi-weekly or monthly basis can be a great motivator for everyone to do their best. However, rewarding the same person again and again can have the opposite effect.
As such, you should reward your entire team from time to time for simply sticking around and trusting you to lead them. These rewards can be as simple as discount coupons, SaaS subscriptions, or other digital goodies (given your remote work environment). Small incentives can go a long way in ensuring that your coworkers are fully engaged and ready to pitch in even more than before.
(Coworkers in an office having a video meeting with their remote coworker)
Remote Team Time Management Mistakes to Avoid Going Forward
Now that we’ve covered how you can create a practical time management action plan for your team, let’s talk about what you shouldn’t do. Based on published data, 57% of remote workers are not properly trained or coached on how to manage their workflow. Instead, managers tend to spend time setting goals and milestones and then dumping them on their coworkers without rhyme or reason.
This can lead to negative effects on your remote team’s engagement and agency with the projects you work on. Let’s address some misconceptions and pitfalls related to remote work management to help you avoid unnecessary downtime going forward:
- Poor Brand Alignment
Any action plan you decide to develop for your remote team has to be closely related to your company’s vision, culture, and mission statement. After all, your team represents an extension of your company – it has to function as such. Remind yourself and your team members of your company’s long-term goals and vision for the future while setting up KPIs to track later on.
- Lack of Team Check-Ins
Once your KPIs are set and the remote work platform is in place, you should plan check-ins with the entire team to discuss your workflow. Bounce ideas off of your coworkers, ask for feedback on your leadership performance and try to resolve bottlenecks through team discussion. A time management action plan is there to help everyone be better at their jobs, not as a crutch to slow work down. Treat it as such and discuss your options as a team.
- Not Trusting your Team Members
If a team member told you they would get to work tomorrow, trust that they will remember to do so without you reminding them. Gaining trust from your remote colleagues takes time and dedication, and it is very easy to lose their respect if you start micromanaging. Place trust in your colleagues and the fact that they are adult professionals with jobs on the line like you, and mutual understanding will follow.
- Failing to Develop your Action Plan Further
The action plan you put into place for your remote team will undoubtedly be flawed at first – so why stop there? You can make improvements, changes, and outright redesigns of your time management action plan at any point. Again, there’s little point in using an action plan if no one will refer to it or think that it slows down work instead. Leave room for improvement and keep your eyes open for ideas that can speed up your work and make everyone more motivated to work together.
Remote teams often consist of people from drastically different backgrounds, lifestyles, and cultural standards. Your job is to act as an intermediary and to create a time management action plan suitable for everyone’s work habits.
The task at hand isn’t easy, but once you get a handle on your team’s expectations from you as their leader, things will clear up. Take the above-discussed tips into consideration when you manage a remote team remotely again. While not universal, they will undoubtedly help you find a silver lining for your remote team and lead them more effectively than you would otherwise.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
- What’s the greatest challenge when managing a remote team?
Aligning your team’s work standards with your plans for them is one of the greatest challenges you will face. Staying close to your company’s culture and vision while working remotely can be difficult, so it’s good to keep this in mind from day one.
- How do you manage a remote team more effectively?
The best way to do so is through a centralized management app which everyone has access to. You can use that platform to delegate work, review everyone’s work hours and collaborate daily. Failing to use such a platform will result in a disjointed and unfocused remote workflow.
- Is it better to be strict or flexible with remote working hours?
There is no right answer for this other than to speak to your team directly about it. Remote teams which work from relatively close-by (same state or country) can easily work on a set daily schedule. However, if your team is spread across the globe, fitting them into a strict schedule is night impossible, making a flexible one a better option.
- How can you get to know your remote team members better?
You can learn more about your remote coworkers by organizing team-building meetings, coaching each person individually, or by simply texting them. While you can learn some information from their social media profiles and resumes, talking to them might be a better option. The more you get to know one another, the better your work relationship will become and the more reliable everyone on your team will be.
Jessica Fender is a professional copywriter, content creator, and editor with extensive experience working with remote writing teams. Her expertise lies in writing articles, case studies, and papers on the topics of HR and business development. Jessica is a passionate writer and enjoys working closely with other writers to develop the best possible content for readers