Managing Remote Teams in 2023: Event Overview

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The Covid-19 pandemic opened businesses to a new-found concept of remote work that created opportunities for hiring beyond the borders and shifting the corporate world to a virtual company model. Symphony Solutions eagerly embraced the remote mode having previously established delivery centers and teammates worldwide. We investigated new approaches to management with remote teams, learned from our mistakes, and celebrated success stories. And now we can share a few insights on what it entails to manage remote teams in an international company. Symphony Solutions invited our international clients and colleagues to an online event Managing Remote Teams in 2023. Specializing in different areas, they shared their knowledge and expertise in virtual management.

Event experts:

  • Amanda Beloy, Chief Executive Officer at Avantage Entertainment, experienced in working with cross-functional teams to deliver quality software satisfying customer needs, worked in different industries such as IT Services & Consulting, Financial Services, Heath Care, iGaming.
  • Rodrigo Vega M., Corporate HR Manager at PayPerHead, experienced in HR within manufacturing industries, hospitality during the pandemic, and software development with a focus on iGaming.
  • Gordana Andonovska, Service Delivery Manager at Symphony Solutions North Macedonia, experienced in Service Delivery, Project Management, Team Leadership, People Management, and Business Client Relationships; managing multilingual and multinational teams onsite and remotely in different locations worldwide.

What Challenges can You Face while Managing Remote Teams? How do You Handle Them?

  • Establishing a core schedule helps align distributed teams and helps them collaborate beyond borders and time zones.
  • Sharing responsibilities and assigning meeting roles helps improve remote communication and mitigate the lack of attention and participation.
  • Patience and flexibility are key in accommodating people and their different life situations.
  • Track productivity and make sure that people are accomplishing their tasks and achieving goals. Have regular check-ins so that people have a way to communicate, and discuss progress, obstacles, and concerns.
  • Make sure to unplug at the end of the day and keep a healthy work-life balance.
  • Develop skills and competencies regarding acting listening and achieving communication balance. Know how communication is flowing within the team without the risk of micro-managing.
  • Tackle the sense of isolation and promote informal communication on a more personal level and make sure everyone feels like part of the team.
  • Help people deal with the mental and psychological burden of remote work, and preemptively detect any issues, either individual or interpersonal.
  • Build reliability, commitment, and expectations of delivering results to prevent people from abusing the excessive freedom that comes from working from home.
  • Engage the IT team to help team members have a reliable work setup at home, resolve any technical issues, and stay connected even when working remotely.
quote by Amanda Beloy
“It’s this fine line that you have to walk between autonomy and tracking, making sure that people are working towards that outcome that you are looking for and not necessarily trying to track every little thing that they do,”

How to Ensure Alignment when Establishing Expectations?

  • Alignment should be done on multiple levels, that of company values, project goals, team goals, sprint goals, etc.
  • Remove obstacles and set clear expectations for the team.
  • Provide training to the team in areas where they are lacking knowledge or require help.
  • Encourage the team to be proactive and reach out and ask for help when needed.
  • Establish a culture of open communication within the team, and make it acceptable to ask for and provide feedback.
  • Onboarding and induction are key to helping people understand their goals and contribution within the team, making them aware of possible challenges and cultural differences, and setting expectations.
  • Listen and observe. Have interactions with team members to get a sense of what they are feeling and thinking, and follow up to ensure alignment.
quote by Rodrigo Vega M
“Bring people that have in their natural personality high levels of self-discipline and self-management, that they are effective communicators, have a high sense of accountability, and have the ability to prioritize and filter noise. All the work environment is abstract and in the mind of each employee so there is a lot of noise that can derail us from building the culture that we need,”

How do You Build an Environment of Trust?

  • Delivering on time helps build the trust. The outcomes are the evidence that the company has that you are doing your work.
  • Provide flexibility to allow employees to work how they fit within a basic framework.
  • Accountability helps build trust. Make sure that middle management is accountable for their teams’ outcomes and the results delivered.
  • Timely communication is key in the culture.
  • Honesty helps build trust within the team and the company. Allow the team to have that outlet to talk and assume that they have good intentions.
  • Improve the work environment. Get information from the team to know what works for them.
  • It takes time with remote teams to build trust. Keep inventing new approaches, apply continuous constructive feedback from the team, and celebrate achievements.
quoute by Amanda Beloy
“I don’t have all the answers. I do have the ability to get some myself. I also have the ability to work with others to get some. It starts with connecting with people. We are all humans at the end of the day. You’re gonna get outcomes if you get to know your team and your team gets to know each other,”

Focusing on Outcomes, Activities, or Both?

  • Focus on desirable outcomes and agreed upon timeframes. Let the team be empowered and take ownership of how to achieve that.
  • Set your team up for success. Give the team the freedom to set their own schedule, solve the problems in the way they think is best.
  • Too much focus on the activities may cause “blindness panic” on the part of the supervisor. Guide and provide general criteria, but ultimately, it’s up to the team to decide how they solve the challenges in their work.

How to Bring Creativity and Fun to Remote Teams?

  • Be open to figuring out how to be creative and bring fun to your daily work.
  • Ask for feedback and suggestions. Let every team member bring their unique perspective.
  • Schedule time to socialize. Get together in person.
  • Find any reason you can to add fun to your routine. Put some social aspect into your work-related activities.
  • Organize online team buildings and theme parties.
  • Virtual communities bring an element of fun, socialization, and inclusivity for the teams. Introduce virtual happy hours, coffee breaks, and games.

Micromanaging of Remote Teams. Yes, or No?

  • Micromanaging goes against the openness within the company. Allow the team to work as they see fit.
  • Micromanagement leads to lower engagement and zaps morale. You are unable to get creativity and innovation.
  • Have self-awareness and be cognizant of if you are crossing the line.
  • Get peer feedback. Find other ways to address your concerns that may lead you to micromanage. Work in the best interest of your team.
  • Micromanagement is the opposite of being Agile. It should be “individuals and interactions over processes and tools.”
quote by Rodrigo Vega M
“The only difference between an excuse and a reason is the time in which things happened,”

Top 3 Expert Tips for Managing Remote Teams in 2023.

Gordana Andonovska:

  • Embrace open door policy. Focus on coaching and empowering people, involve them in different initiatives and be an active listener.
  • Encourage peer-to-peer support.
  • Have one single communication tool to make it easier for everybody.

Rodrigo Vega:

  • Prove to everybody that you are reliable and transparent. It’s okay to say “I don’t know.”
  • Important issues shouldn’t be discussed in chat or emails. Have a live meeting with the camera on to have a face-to-face interaction.
  • Promote open communication. Ask for opinions, comments, and feedbacks, opinions. Everything is valued and we are listening to it.

Amanda Beloy:

  • Set boundaries and establish a routine. Have a dedicated work space that you can leave at the end of the day. Have the right equipment to be effective and efficient.
  • Schedule time to socialize. Compensate for the social benefits of an office that you miss out on when working remotely.
  • Communicate. Make sure that you are reaching out and checking in so that you aren’t left on an island.
quote by Gordana Andonovska
“Agree on an action plan for how to compensate hours [lost due to technical issues] because it’s all about the delivery,”

Chat Question. How to Fight Fatigue as a Remote Worker?

  • Take the time to disconnect and recharge. Make time for yourself.
  • Set aside time for your health. Invest in your wellbeing.
  • Have a set routine and be more aware of what you are doing, for how long, and how that impacts your wellbeing.

Watch the full-length video recording of the event to get more insights and all the expert takes on remote team management on our YouTube channel. Want to join Symphony Solutions? Check out the open vacancies.

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