Managing a remote team is quite a challenge. You can’t just walk into the office and start a conversation to check in with everyone and have an idea of what each member individually needs to be informed and to stay motivated. But instead of getting stuck in endless rounds of phone calls and chat windows popping up all over your screen, you should try out a more strategic and even calculated approach to communication with your employees or contractors. Here are four tips for effectively managing your remote team.

1. Set clear goals and expectations

If your team doesn’t know what you expect them to do, it is very hard if not impossible for them to live up to your expectations. The same is true for goals: If you never communicate the overall goal for both your team and every team member individually, they will have a hard time knowing what they are supposed to do. That is why it is crucial to set clear goals for everyone and to tell them what you expect from them.

This should best be put down in writing, for example in an onboarding e-mail, so your remote workers can always go back to it and remind themselves of what their priorities are. Do this with every team member right at the beginning and frequently revisit these goals to see if everyone’s staying on track. At the same time, communicate clearly what you expect from them. Get everyone on the same page when it comes to their responsibilities and freedoms, as well. This helps to eliminate unnecessary revisions and to answer frequently asked questions in a more organized and effective manner.

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2. Check in regularly

As said in the beginning, you can’t just stroll through the office to visit someone at their desk when you are managing a remote team. And at the same time, randomly calling your team members to check in with them won’t particularly increase their productivity or show your trust in their abilities. However, it is important to check in with your team regularly and to give everyone the opportunity to ask questions.

One way to do this is to schedule regular meetings with the team as a whole as well as individual one-on-one sessions with each team member. This can be done via a shared phone or video call or even just in a simple chat group. In the team meeting, you can address tasks and goals for the whole team and share information that is relevant for everyone. Use the individual meetings to check in with each team member and to give them a platform to raise concerns, ask questions and discuss their individual goals and responsibilities.

3. Keep everyone motivated

It is not a secret that a happy employee is a more effective and productive employee. And one way to keep your team motivated is to provide incentives and to reward exceptional performances. This is especially important in remote teams with freelancers usually not getting a lot of feedback or praise for their work. By sharing positive reviews or congratulating on a good piece of work, you can keep motivations high and your remote team willing to keep doing their best work.

Also consider creating some type of open leader board that every team member has access to. Seeing their name at the top of the board can act as an additional incentive and when paired with a bonus, can lead to even more motivation within your remote team.

4. Use efficient tools to manage your team members

While e-mails and online spreadsheets may work in the beginning, at some point moving your remote team to a professional (project) management tool can bring huge benefits. First, you can keep all relevant data, files and information in one easy-to-access spot. Second, it allows you to create individual work groups for different topics. Here, the team members can start engaging with one another and sharing relevant information without you having to act as the middlemen and forwarding emails all the time.

With more advanced tools, you can even save time by automating payment and other administrative processes, further reducing unnecessary email.