Managing Remote Teams Best Practice – 8 Practical Tips

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Before the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic, it was estimated that around one in 10 UK workers spent an average of one day a week working from home. A further 5% reported that they spent most of their week working remotely. However, as the virus spread worldwide, these figures changed drastically. In 2020, almost 50% of UK workers spent at least one day a week working from home, while 38% worked remotely full-time. Although the figures have dropped since lockdowns were lifted, the figures for remote work remain higher than before the outbreak. According to Government statistics,  22% of the UK workforce spends at least one day a week working from home, while 13% have set up permanent offices in their dwellings. Organisations are discovering that managing remote teams comes with its own set of pros and cons. If you’re looking for tips for managing remote employees, read on for some practical suggestions.


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It used to be the case that a business was only as good as its company culture. From snatched conversations in the corridor or by the water cooler to meetings in the boardroom, working face-to-face allowed plenty of opportunity to ensure that everyone was singing from the same hymn sheet. However, remote working has changed that dynamic quite significantly.

‘Remote work’ is something of an umbrella term. Technically, it means that workers can conduct their business from anywhere other than a conventional office. It covers terms such as ‘working from home’ and ‘telecommuting.’ The theory behind the practice is that, in the age of digital and virtual communication, employees can complete their tasks and communicate with each other wherever they happen to be. This term also applies to entrepreneurs who’ve set up shop in their own homes, even though they might be acting as the CEO and their own workforce, to begin with. However, managing remote employees presents its own problems when trying to maintain a cohesive company culture. The difficulty for those in charge of remote working management is that these problems must be offset against the perceived benefits.

For many employees, working from home was – and still can be – attractive. While the main drive behind the drive for remote working was to mitigate the spread of the virus, subsequent research found that it raised some interesting points. Various studies revealed that four main themes were highlighted as a direct result of those working remotely during the pandemic.


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  • Figures from the Office for National Statistics found that almost 80% of UK workers reported that they felt they achieved a better balance between their professional and private lives. Reasons cited included spending more time with family, not having to face the daily work commute and reduced childcare costs.
  • The ‘Work after Lockdown’ study, conducted by the University of Southampton, revealed that almost 80% of employees felt they achieved more through working remotely. The main reason behind this seemed to be that workers felt they had more control over their time and could more easily juggle personal commitments with their job.
  • A Royal Society of Public Health survey found that almost 50% of employees felt that working remotely positively affected their physical and mental well-being. Taking regular walks, communicating with friends remotely, and being more present in family life were just a few of the reasons cited by respondents.
  • For those with disabilities or health conditions, both physical and mental, working from home provided them with the facility to work in familiar, accessible and, where necessary, adapted surroundings. The World Health Organisation went as far as to endorse the practice during the pandemic on these grounds.


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However, while it might appear all sunshine and roses, working from home also presented a previously unexplored set of challenges for employees. These include:

  • Loneliness. Some reports claim that up to 80% of those who worked remotely said that doing so negatively impacted their mental health, mainly due to feeling isolated.
  • A blurring of the boundaries between work and life.
  • Distractions. A report by Stanford University revealed that many employees felt that the distractions incurred by working remotely were enough to decrease their productivity levels.
  • Coping with technical problems. In a traditional office setup, there may be IT technicians to hand – or at the very least, someone who knows enough about tech to provide a quick solution. Working remotely, employees don’t have the same levels of access to technical solutions, which can significantly impede a working day.


However, with teams working from home, employers also face their own peaks and troughs. The first and most apparent benefit to business owners is reducing outgoings.

From the costs of renting an office space to the cost of energy bills and supplying office furniture, there are plenty of cost-cutting advantages to having your team working outside the office. Similarly, with 80% of employees reporting improved productivity levels due to working remotely, there appears to be little or no reason to oppose the idea.

Surprisingly, working from home seems to have reduced the number of sick days taken. A report by the Human Resources software group, Breathe, found that, typically, around 65% of remote workers said they were less likely to take a day off through illness than they would, had they been working in a conventional office. According to the report, many felt that, when working in pre-pandemic conditions, they felt unable to take time off work through illness for several reasons, including:

  • Financial insecurity
  • Commitment to existing projects
  • Pressure from superiors


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While these issues might be completely understandable, they still leave those managing remote employees with other considerations, such as employee welfare, technical support, remote and scheduled communications and, possibly most importantly, the job of maintaining the company culture, which, in turn, informs the company brand. There’s also a school of thought that suggests employing remote workers increases inclusivity, particularly among the disabled community. With those who feel physically or mentally challenged in a conventional workplace working in a safe environment, there’s a broader workforce to draw from.

However, with a year of the ‘new normal’ behind us, there are now better resources allowing businesses to respond as a unit while they might be physically fragmented. Managing remote teams’ best practices can now be embraced rather than feared, allowing companies to ensure that their employees still feel committed to and connected to their employers. Although some may appear frivolous at first glance, there is method in the post-pandemic madness.

Whether managing remote teams or dealing with your employees face-to-face, the fundamentals of any corporate culture are based on good communication. Without you letting your staff know what’s expected of them, what they need to achieve and what the endgame might be, you’re likely to encounter more obstacles than necessary. As a result, there are certain things to establish when overseeing and managing remote employees.

  • The first thing to do is to define what’s expected. Without a clear idea of the business’ overview or the direction of a particular project, you’ll end up with various contributions that might not align with each other or your business’s direction. While video calls might allow you to trust your next venture into your team’s capable hands, supporting what’s been said with documents and emails can’t hurt. If you’ve left a paper trail, there can be no argument about the initial objectives set in place.


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  • While the team might be critical to how your business is run, it’s worth remembering that every corporate battalion comprises individuals. One of the most crucial parts of managing remote teams is to check in with each component. This could be as simple as checking that every member understands their part in a project or as empathetic as asking what’s happening in their private lives. Either way, you’ll find yourself in a better position to decide who needs to step back and who needs to step in.
  • Corporate culture is cohesive, which is why it’s worthwhile bringing the gang together on a weekly basis. Aside from ensuring that everyone knows what they’re supposed to be doing, it helps to reinforce that all-important gang mentality. However, there are further benefits. While your team might exchange ideas, thoughts, and plans, they’ll also be free to speak on an informal level. As a result, once-a-week remote working management meetings should leave time on either side of the session for employees to communicate beyond the confines of the virtual office. Where possible, leave a half-hour window before and after the main event in which your workers can chat with each other. Even better, ensure that you, as the employer, aren’t part of those windows. In many respects, autonomy is all.


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  • As anyone who’s ever used video conferencing platforms will know, they can be unreliable – particularly if you’re introducing people to a new app or channel. It can be a good idea to send each team member a link to the platform you choose well in advance—that way, you can test for bugs, and connection problems, without disrupting the main event. There’s nothing better to diffuse that come-together feeling than watching other members of the group freeze or being unable to hear them.
  • Because communication between the team can be limited, by schedules or the regulations set by virtual conferencing platforms, ensuring that yours continue to talk to each other is vital. To keep your employees on track and talking, setting collaborative projects and deadlines can be both productive for your business and healthy for your employees. However, there’s no point in making work where none exists. Instead, when managing remote teams, think of the strengths of each individual and with whom they’d be most compatible. If a solo effort is required, don’t force a partnership where it might be unhelpful.
  • While teamwork can be essential in remote workforce management, individual autonomy can be equally beneficial. Giving your employees control over their work not only helps to ensure that the job gets done but also provides each member with a greater sense of satisfaction once the deadline has been met. However, with autonomy comes accountability. Team efforts can be harder to appraise than those of individuals. Giving your employees greater accountability also gives you an overview of the strengths and weaknesses that make up your workforce.


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  • Using remote conferencing platforms can be stressful. Many studies suggest that taking part in a virtual meeting can be more stressful than conducting something face-to-face. The main reason seems to be that attendants can see themselves on-screen and may worry about how they look, behave, or speak. While you might want your employees to look their best when representing your business, it’s also worth considering that they work from home. Relaxing the dress code is an empathetic way of ensuring everyone feels comfortable, short of not wearing trousers.
  • When managing remote employees, it’s also worth remembering that you can bend the boundaries of your chosen platform. Instead of solely scheduling business meetings, it can be worth working regular out-of-school events into your virtual calendar. You’ll find plenty of online team-building exercises, games, and quizzes to introduce into your schedule, which can improve and deepen the relationships between your team members.


There’s no doubt that Covid-19 has changed the way we work. However, it doesn’t have to change the way we think about each other. No team is perfect, as each has its virtuosos and those who seem happier playing second fiddle. Despite this, taking the time to consider the elements of each individual while looking at the team as a whole can take your remote working management skills to the next level.

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