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Virtual Teams, Work Management for Teams

Leading Remote Teams: 6 Effective Strategies

As the changing world of work goes virtual, make sure your teams can impact your company strategy from anywhere – even the couch.

Published By Zach McDowell

leading remote teams | Planview

Remote work has become the new normal for many organizations over the past few years. If you’re a manager who’s used to leading remote teams, then you probably know the usual tips and tricks: Make a schedule. Take breaks. Shower. But working remotely — especially if you’re part of a team — is about more than your team’s productivity.

While it’s important for your teams to work efficiently, it’s critical that your teams stay connected with each other so you can continuously deliver value to your organization and your customers. First and foremost, you need to make sure that remote teams have all the tools and support they need to be productive. Creating a trustworthy and autonomous remote workforce isn’t as hard as it may feel.

Whether or not you’re new to leading remote teams, here is some advice on areas for your teams to focus on as the changing world of work goes virtual.

Stay on strategy, especially when strategy is changing everyday

For most leaders, staying on strategy is top of mind. This can become difficult, however, when your strategy becomes hyper-dynamic, and your channels of communication aren’t as simple as finding someone in the hallway or at their desk. Even without physical check-ins, you can still find ways to keep your organization’s strategy crystal clear for your remote employees.

Think about leveraging roadmaps and other tools like project gantt charts to keep your teams informed of their impact on the bigger picture. By giving your teams this insight into the strategy-to-delivery connection, you will create an environment where your businesses will thrive in a remote landscape.

Leverage virtual, integrated workspaces that bring teams together

Connecting strategy to delivery has never been more important, and yet, the rise of remote working has definitely made it more complex. Your employees are flooded with an ecosystem of disconnected applications that, in some cases, can do more harm than good. Leading remote teams means finding better ways to get work done, which often includes assessing the tech stack your team uses every day.

Too many emails, texts, calendars, repositories make it extremely difficult to know what to work on, where the work lives, and if it even remains a priority – in extreme cases you may even find that your team is duplicating effort without knowing it. Implementing a centralized workspace for the teams can help alleviate these issues. By bringing people together in a cohesive workspace, virtual teams will always be up to date with the latest priority, status, and communication around their work.

Visualize your work – from team to team-of-teams

If leveraging virtual workspaces is step one, then step two is to make sure that all of your teams’ work is visible. Full visibility enables work autonomy, personal ownership, and above else, transparency among team members.

By adopting an enterprise-grade digital Kanban tool, your teams can plan, prioritize, and execute on their work together – keeping collaboration flowing throughout the process. This is especially critical in a remote setting, having all your work visible makes team communication a breeze.

But beyond the team, leverage a Kanban solution that scales and provides visibility across teams — this will help you stay on strategy while teams thrive in this remote model.

Get Work Done Faster

Collaborate in context

Don’t get me wrong: I’m all for gifs and pictures of my coworker’s dog. But Gus, the schnauzer, won’t exactly help me move the needle on my workload throughout the day. Communication apps, like Zoom and Slack, are incredibly important for daily interactions when leading remote teams, however they also tend to create a lot of noise — and a lot of hunting for information.

Instead, keep work updates where they belong — with the work itself. Whether you just finished updating a document or completed a critical task, celebrate your successes in a tool that’s purpose built for your work. Leveraging digital Kanban boards, collaborative workspaces, or a project-specific document repositories can significantly increase your team’s productivity.

Remember, collaboration is about more than just communication with colleagues; it’s about giving them the information they need to get their job done to the best of their ability. Finding the right tool to help support this type of in-context collaboration will set you on the right path.

Be true to your capacity

Managing workload and capacity is key to delivering the right work fast. Remote work makes this difficult as team members struggle to effectively communicate work status and collaborate to get things done. An office setting serves to create clear boundaries that divide work life from home life, but when individuals are working from a home office, the lines are blurred.

When leading remote teams, it’s important to create working agreements regarding how much work each person can manage at a time, as well as to determine what acceptable working hours are outside of the traditional office. Having a digital workspace where all work information lives helps to improve visualization and collaboration, allowing managers to better determine capacity and deliver high-priority work faster.

Be a good colleague

In times of uncertainty or transition, it’s important to help your teammates. In a remote work setting, that may mean providing support to an overworked colleague or providing a fresh set of eyes on a freshly completed document. Make sure those around you — your colleagues, but also your family, friends, and neighbors — know that there is always someone willing to help.

No matter where or how you work

By following the strategies discussed above, you’ll put yourself and your teams in a good position to impact your company strategy from anywhere – even the couch. If you’re new to leading remote teams or looking to improve upon how your team collaborates, consider finding a solution that helps connect your team’s work with your company’s strategy. Check out Planview’s solutions for Enterprise Kanban and Team Work Management to streamline your organization’s ability to work productively from home.

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Written by Zach McDowell Director, Product Marketing

Zach is a senior product manager for Planview PPM Pro and Planview Projectplace. He has managed teams across three continents at Planview and largely focuses on driving innovation for mid-market project management and PPM. He led one of the largest releases in Projectplace’s 20-year history and continues to grow and support its global user base.