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Navigating the Challenges of Remote Team Management

Establishing remote teams is a great strategy to keep costs low and hire talent from across the country, but they aren’t easy to engage and manage. As a fully remote company, we know too well of the challenges that come with remote teams. Time zones skew communication. Team members feel isolated at the home office. Leaders feel like a deer lost in headlights. This blog identifies the challenges leaders often face with managing remote teams and offers solutions. 

Understanding Remote Team Management Challenges

manager leading remote team

You may think this blog doesn’t apply to you because your company is hybrid, not fully remote; but we can assure you even a single remote work day impacts engagement, retention, and all other factors necessary to foster a strong team. Plus, 57% of US adults would consider finding a new job if their current employer didn’t offer remote options. So, despite the trend of employers requiring employees to return to the office, remote is here to stay in some regard. Managing the now remote, and hybrid, workforce requires leaders to strategize effective communication and tackle the challenges sooner rather than later. If you’re the CEO or in any leadership position at your company, then keep reading to learn how to manage remote teams for long-term success.

The Challenge and the Solution

There are many challenges that come with remote teams. We are no stranger to them and have had our fair share of learning experiences throughout the past 15 years of operation. Let’s now examine three common challenges and solutions we recommend for remote team management. 


remote team member on a call with his manager

The Challenge: Anyone experienced in remote work remembers their first days figuring out the who, when, and how of communicating with managers and team members. It surely isn’t easy when everyone prefers different communication methods, works in conflicting schedules and timezones, or doesn’t yet understand the expectations of remote work. As a manager, you could have one team member who emails, another who only works in the morning, and yet another who - upon your request to call - doesn’t respond but rather anticipates your request by completing tasks they think you want them to do. These challenges are heightened when one or more team members think the manager needs to step in and address another team member’s inefficiencies. 

manager emailing his remote team

The Solution: Communication really is key. When first establishing remote teams or getting a team on track, it’s important for the manager to set boundaries, define communication methods to be used by all team members, and continuously check in. It’s every team member’s duty to explicitly state their working hours and strict availability. You should open the floor for questions between you and your team as well as among team members during a virtual meeting.

Collaboration and Cohesiveness

remote team collaborates on project

The Challenge: When communication is efficient, there can be a lot of notes and emails to sift through, send across the team, and reiterate. Getting lost in communication happens often and even people with the best memory are susceptible. If you’re the manager, being overwhelmed by the plethora of information communicated is guaranteed. Team members may get lost on a project, misconstrue what is asked of them, and not know who has what tasks. Work becomes duplicated, time is wasted, and the company overpays for the unnecessary work. 

project management meeting

The Solution: Remote team management means project management. Everyone has to be on the same page, even if some communication is deemed unnecessary to share with the entire team. As the manager, you should look into using project management software that fits the needs of the project or projects. There are many out there, so start with one and assess its effectiveness. Additionally, hold team members accountable for updating projects status, checklists, and team member assignments in their own time. We do this with our teams and the project management software of our choice, Trello. 

Performance and Productivity

team performance and productivity

The Challenge: Everything trickles down to performance and productivity. Team members may not know how time sensitive tasks are or can easily get into a rut, feeling disconnected from the workplace. While working remotely can have a positive impact on time management, it can also have the reverse effect where the team becomes sluggish and takes too long on the project. As a manager, you’ll be easily frustrated when the team isn’t meeting or beating the mark. But it can become difficult to manage your team, especially if they recently became remote. The team isn’t physically there. Monitoring what they are doing every hour is not only morally questionable, it’s nearly impossible. 

incentivize remote team members

The Solution: Performance and productivity are directly tied to key measures, such as time and due dates, and standards, including clear communication discussed earlier. As a manager, you should combat struggles in these areas by setting formal deadlines so everyone knows when to have tasks completed. Plus, the so-called “deadline effect” motivates people to complete tasks just in time. However, if you wish to uphold higher standards, then you must communicate them to the team and perhaps incentivize them. For instance, we reward our team with kudos on the direct messaging workplace platform, Slack, for hard work. Small gestures can make a team’s day. You should ensure team members know they can reach out for help with tasks. 

Conclusion: Embrace the Challenges

manager meeting with team

Remote teams can be incredibly beneficial for businesses looking to keep costs low. This is the strategy CEO Melanie Koerperich adopted when she started Milrich Virtual Professionals. Since then, we have had our fair share of learning experiences to manage fully remote teams. So we know things are easier said than done. Managing remote teams presents challenges with lines of communication, cohesive teamwork, and overall productivity being easily blurred, unclear, or overwhelming. We offer solutions to three common challenges for managers, including getting the team on communication and project management platforms. Clear communication and boundaries, efficient collaboration and accountability, and performance measures and incentives will take your team a long way in the long-term. 



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