Having a digitally-distributed team is a boon for employers. It’s flexible, negates the need for expensive office space, and makes it easy to source young, digitally-savvy talent without being bound by location.
But heading a digitally-distributed team requires careful management to ensure every member is happy and productive. Read on for some useful tips on keeping your digitally-distributed team at the top of their game.
Provide constructive, personalized feedback
Digitally-distributed can also mean digitally-isolated. If one or more of your team are physically working solo, they can feel cut-off from the rest of the team.
This can result in feelings of isolation, which in turn can affect their self-worth as an employee and member of the team. As such, it’s vital that you create an open dialogue between yourself and your team members.
Provide constructive feedback tailored to individual employees. Praise them when they excel and offer advice and guidance when required.
In a post-recession world, younger employees are only too aware of the tenuous nature of work. They want to be the best they can be, and an open dialogue provides them with a channel through which they can develop from constructive criticism.
Keep everyone in the loop
While personalized feedback goes some way towards managing a young digitally-distributed team, so too do regular team meetings. This might seem like a no-brainer, but businesses often neglect regular meetings, citing a high workload and a lack of time.
But taking the time to get everyone together in a meeting creates an open forum that encourages discussion and collaboration. While messaging apps like Slack are good for general conversations, messages can get lost. Meetings foster free discussion that results in actionable takeaways.
The key is to hold different types of meetings at different times. For example, a daily ten-minute meeting is enough for everyone to touch base and raise anything that needs addressing. And a longer meeting held on a weekly basis lets you share vital company updates to all your team at once.
Embrace technology to work smarter
A successful digitally-distributed team leans heavily on technology to work well. When your team is spread out across the globe, technology provides the infrastructure that keeps them all together.
As such, it’s vital that you embrace tech wherever you can in your business. It streamlines working processes and helps your employees work smarter. Technology creates a virtual workplace that boosts productivity and enhances team cohesion.
And this is especially true for younger teams. The millennial generation grew up with tech at their fingertips, and rely on it for communicating and receiving information. So it’s not just good practice — a young team will expect to use tech in their roles.
Thanks to technology, the location of a business no longer matters. No matter where your digitally-distributed team is in the world, it’s still possible to manage your team effectively using any of the numerous apps and tools at your disposal.
Communications tools such as Slack are a good start, but so too are project management tools such as Asana. Check out this handy list for some more useful tech you can use.
Beyond implementing tech in your everyday working practice, consider creating a company intranet too. Use it to share company news, training materials, and project updates. This creates a team hub that lets your employees stay in touch and in the loop.
Create a positive work-life balance
The nature of a digitally-distributed team implies a certain degree of flexibility. When your team is scattered around the country, possibly even the globe, a flexible work-life balance is crucial to allow for different timezones.
And younger employees, millennials in particular, increasingly demand a work-life balance that works for them. Disillusioned by the grueling nine-to-five, younger teams want to live to work, rather than working to live.
Rather than focusing on how many hours your team is putting in, look at the work they’re producing. Results are what you strive for, so create an environment in which your team can deliver them in a way that works for them.
Of course, not every business can provide flexible working options for its employees. But even small allowances in working practices can go some way towards creating a happier, and thus more productive, digitally-distributed team.
Don’t neglect the social element
Many corporate businesses traditionally see social elements of running a team as a luxury or a token activity that requires only the smallest of attention. But your team are people, not drones. Giving them a channel to be people boosts team cohesion and makes them more productive as a result.
For a digitally-distributed team, this is easier said than done — it’s not like you can all go out for lunch together. But there are ways to overcome this. A book club, for example, can be managed remotely, with a discussion held via Google Hangout for your employees to share their thoughts.
And if you can afford it, a company retreat is a great way to engage your team and strengthen employee bonds. It might sound cheesy, but a simple team-building exercise such as an escape room goes a long way towards bringing your team closer together. Those bonds remain even when they return to work, improving performance as a result.
Managing a young, digitally-distributed team arguably requires a different tact to managing a team onsite. But by providing constructive feedback, holding regular forums, and embracing the value of tech, you can keep your team working at their best with ease.
Kayleigh is a senior writer at Micro Startups, a site about solopreneurs, startups, and small businesses. We love spreading the good word about hard-working entrepreneurs from around the world. Check out our blog for the latest marketing insights from top experts and inspiring startup stories @getmicrostarted.