I know firsthand how challenging it can be to lead teams from afar. If you’ve never done it before, it can be like herding cats over Zoom, but with the right strategies and tools, you can become a great remote team manager.

Having managed my fair share of remote teams, I’ve learned what works and what doesn’t. It’s not always smooth sailing, but with the right approach, you can get your team firing on all cylinders.

In this article, I’ll share some real-world tips you can start using today to create a remote team culture that’s productive and fulfilling.

Table Of Contents:

Pros and Cons of Managing Remote Teams

As a seasoned remote team manager, I’ve experienced the challenges that come with a remote work environment, but I’ve also experienced the incredible benefits as well.

So, what’s the secret behind making remote work actually work? Your leaders need to master the art of managing remotely.

You see, great remote managers don’t just delegate tasks and set deadlines. They need to use a whole toolkit of new tools and tactics to keep their remote teams engaged, aligned, and crushing their goals.

Challenges of managing remote teams

Let’s be real. Managing a remote team isn’t the same as delegating orders to everyone in the same office. You’ve got to navigate time zones and communication barriers, keep data secure, keep employees engaged, and deal with the dreaded “out of sight, out of mind” mentality.

But here’s the thing. With the right strategies and tools, you can overcome those challenges and unlock the full potential of your remote workers.

Benefits of remote work

Remote work isn’t just a trend—it’s become the future—and for good reason. Why? Remote work offers employees flexibility and work-life balance and eliminates the stress of commuting and office distractions.

Studies show that remote workers are often more productive, engaged, and loyal than their office-bound counterparts.

Essential Remote Team Manager Tools

I can’t emphasize enough how important it is to have the right tools in your remote management toolkit. I’m talking about the apps and platforms that help keep your remote workers connected, productive, and in sync, no matter where they are in the world.

Communication tools

First and foremost, you need a robust communication platform. I’m talking about more than just email and phone calls. You need software that allows for real-time messaging, video conferencing, file sharing, and seamless integration with your other apps.

My personal preference is Microsoft Teams or Slack. Both are like virtual offices, where your employees working remotely can have quick conversations or group chats, share updates, and even blow off some steam with well-timed emojis or gifs.

Project management software

Alright, let’s dive into project management tools. They’re a must-have because they keep everyone on track and aligned with your objectives. When choosing one of the many options, you want to find one that lets you divvy up tasks, set deadlines, and check progress in real time.

A few of my favorites are Asana, Trello, and Smartsheet. These tools make it super easy to see what everyone’s working on and see if anyone is falling behind.

Time tracking and productivity tools

Time tracking and productivity tools are another great resource for managing remote teams. They provide insights into how your team spends their time and help identify areas you need to improve. I’m a fan of RescueTime and Toggl for monitoring time on specific tasks and projects.

To help boost focus and prevent burnout, I also like to implement the Pomodoro Technique. It’s a time management technique you can use with your remote workers that helps break up the work day.

File sharing and collaboration platforms

Any time you have employees working remotely, file sharing and collaboration tools are a must-have for sharing documents and projects. You need something that supports real-time editing, allows comments, and provides version control. I often use Google Drive, Microsoft SharePoint, and Dropbox.

These items simplify storing and sharing, so team members can work together on files from any location.

Security and access control

The last and most important item is security and access control. When everyone is working and accessing your company’s data remotely, safeguarding your system and data becomes more critical than ever. To do this, implement secure login procedures, use encrypted file sharing, and regularly provide security training for your team.

In this instance, tools like LastPass or 1Password are great for managing passwords and accessing sensitive information. Above all remember to stay vigilant and ensure your data is safeguarded at all times!

remote team manager

Building and Maintaining a Strong Remote Team Culture

Your company’s culture is the glue that holds your remote teams together. When you no longer have the natural bonding that takes place in an office setting, you need to find creative ways of building a sense of connection and belonging among your team members.

Virtual team-building activities

One way of creating a company culture is through virtual team-building activities. These activities might range from a casual weekly coffee chat to getting everyone together for a virtual escape room. Whatever you choose, the main goal is to provide opportunities for your team to connect and enjoy themselves.

Encouraging informal interactions

Informal interactions between employees are just as important as work-related conversations. Allow your employees to use their Microsoft Teams or Slack channels for non-work-related conversations too. Just make sure there’s a policy in place t, and everyone knows conversations must remain friendly and work-appropriate.

Recognizing and rewarding achievements

When everyone is working remotely, it’s important to keep employees motivated and involved. The best way to do this is by acknowledging their achievements and rewarding their hard work and commitment.

In a remote work environment, look to provide shoutouts during meetings, send personalized thank-yous, or put together some great incentive and bonus programs. All these things are the perfect way to keep your teams motivated and focused on helping the company achieve its goals and milestones.

Promoting work-life balance

You can’t discuss remote work without the topic of work-life balance coming up, and for good reason. Without the natural boundaries of an office, it’s easy for work to bleed into employees’ personal time and lead to burnout. As a remote team manager, it’s your job to promote a healthy work-life balance and set an example for your team.

Encourage your team members to take breaks, use their vacation time, and disconnect from work outside of normal business hours. And make sure you follow your own rules. Don’t send late-night emails or expect immediate responses after work hours or on weekends; lead by example.

Effective Communication Strategies for Remote Teams

Communication is the lifeblood of any remote team. Without the natural flow of information that happens in an office setting, you have to be intentional about creating channels for clear, consistent communication.

Establishing communication guidelines

Just like in the office, you need to establish clear guidelines for your remote workers as well. This includes setting expectations for response times, preferred communication channels, and meeting etiquette. For example, you might agree that all team members will respond to emails within 24 hours, use Microsoft Teams or Slack for daily messages, keep video cameras on during team meetings, or require phone calls for any urgent items.

Conducting regular virtual meetings

When your team no longer sees each other face to face in the office, the workaround is virtual meetings. Whether it’s a daily check-in, a weekly team meeting, or a monthly all-hands-on-deck, these meetings keep everyone connected, aligned, and informed. Some great video conferencing tools to use for these are Zoom, Microsoft Teams, or Google Meet.

Also, to ensure the meetings are productive, use a shared document to track discussion points and action items. That way, everyone leaves the meeting knowing what they need to do and their responsibilities.

Leveraging flexible communication methods

Another great remote work strategy is Flexible communication. This is where workers communicate and collaborate on their own time through tools like email, project management software, and shared documents.

The beauty of flexible communication is that team members can work and stay focused on one thing without distractions or feeling pressured to respond to other items immediately. This method is also great because it creates a written record of decisions, and all progress is easily tracked.

remote team manager

Monitoring and Measuring Remote Team Performance

I would argue that monitoring and measuring performance is even more important for remote teams than it is for in-office teams. Without the natural visibility of an office setting, you need to be more intentional about tracking progress and supervising remote workers.

Setting clear performance metrics

The first step is to set clear performance metrics for your team. These should be specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound (SMART).

For example, you might set a goal for your marketing team to increase website traffic by 20% over the next quarter or for your sales team to close 10 new deals per month. Either way, make sure you are using metrics that your team understands and buys into and the metrics also align with your company’s goals.

Tracking progress and productivity

Once you have your metrics in place, you need to start tracking the progress and productivity of your remote workers on a regular basis. To monitor your team, utilize and analyze the data from the project management software, time-tracking apps, and analytics dashboards to see how they are performing against their goals. Look for patterns and trends in the data.

Are some team members consistently missing deadlines or not meeting their targets? Do you notice bottlenecks or inefficiencies in the processes? If anything looks off or wrong, use this information to have candid conversations with your team and come up with ways to improve.

Conducting regular performance reviews

You need to hold your remote team members accountable so conduct regular performance reviews. These one-on-one meetings allow you to provide feedback, acknowledge accomplishments, and set future goals. I suggest conducting performance reviews at least once a quarter, with additional reviews if needed.

When providing the reviews, use a mix of metrics and feedback to describe the person’s performance. In addition to reviewing them, use some of the time to gather feedback on your performance as a manager as well. This way, you can also improve and find better ways to support your team.

Identifying and addressing performance issues

Performance issues might be harder to spot in remote teams, but they’re just as important to address. Watch for signs like missed deadlines, low-quality work, or lack of participation in meetings.

When you spot a problem, tackle it directly with empathy and understanding. Do this discretely with a one-on-one meeting to discuss the issue and work together to create a plan for improvement. As with any performance issue, be sure to document the conversation and follow up regularly to check on progress.

Celebrating successes and milestones

You can’t just point out the problems and not celebrate successes without it affecting morale and motivation. Be sure to take time to acknowledge both team and individual achievements, successes, and milestones in meetings, company newsletters, or on social media.

Get creative with your acknowledgments. Send personalized thank-you notes or small gifts to show your gratitude. Maybe provide gift cards to their favorite restaurant, send a care package, or plan a retreat to reward the whole team.

The key is to make everyone feel valued and appreciated, no matter where they are located.

Key Takeaway:

Mastering remote team management means more than just assigning tasks; it’s about creating a culture of trust, clear communication, and celebrating wins. Use the right tools to keep your team in sync and always be intentional about fostering connections.

Overcoming Time Zone Differences in Remote Teams

When managing remote employees, there is a good chance your workers might be located in different time zones. This is especially true if you’re a big company. You could literally have team members scattered across the globe, from New York to New Delhi!

Establishing Core Working Hours

One way to tackle time zones is to set core working hours. This is when you pick a block of time, and everyone is expected to be available for meetings and collaboration during that time.

For example, you might decide that 10 am to 2 pm EST are your core hours. That way, folks in different time zones can plan their workday around that block. It’s not always easy to get people aligned, but it’s essential for keeping everyone in sync.

Rotating Meeting Times

Another approach is to rotate your meeting times. This way, there isn’t one specific time zone that always gets stuck with the 6 am or 9 pm slot meeting.

I once worked with a team that was spread out from California to New York. Depending on who was involved in the meetings, we would rotate and adjust the meeting times so that everyone got a chance to attend at a reasonable hour.

Respecting Personal Time and Boundaries

Lastly, it’s important to always respect your team members’ personal time and boundaries. Just because someone is online at 11 pm their time doesn’t mean they should be expected to respond to work messages.

Encourage your team to set clear “do not disturb” hours and to take time off when they need it. Lead by example and avoid sending non-urgent messages outside of working hours. Remember, a well-rested and balanced team is a productive team, no matter where they are located.

remote team manager

Onboarding and Training Remote Employees

Onboarding a new remote employee can be a bit challenging for someone who hasn’t done it before. Besides, how do you make the employee feel welcome and equip them to do their job when you’re not even in the same room or place?

Creating a Comprehensive Onboarding Process

The key to onboarding is to have a thorough and well-planned process in place. This should include:

  • A welcome packet with all the necessary info (company policies, team org chart, etc.).
  • A schedule of virtual onboarding sessions.
  • Introductions to key team members and stakeholders.
  • Access to all the tools and resources they’ll need.

I also like to assign each new hire a buddy or mentor. This gives them a go-to person for questions and helps them start building relationships from day one. It also helps the more experienced team members develop their leadership and mentoring skills.

Providing Necessary Equipment and Resources

Make sure your new remote employees have all the equipment they need to do their job effectively.

This might include:

  • A company laptop
  • A monitor
  • A headset for video calls
  • Office phone
  • Access to any necessary software or tools

Don’t make your employees fend for themselves when it comes to setting up their home office. Provide guidance and support to ensure they have a comfortable and productive workspace.

Conducting Virtual Training Sessions

When you’re working with new hires and remote teams, virtual training sessions are one of the best ways to get everyone on the same page and up to speed. Use video conferencing tools to walk through new processes, demonstrate new software, and answer questions in real time. These virtual training sessions can also be recorded so employees can refer back to them later, or they can be shared with new hires to help bring them up to speed.

You should also encourage new hires to join both work and non-work-related virtual discussions, such as group chats, relevant Microsoft Teams or Slack channels, and casual virtual coffee chats with their colleagues.

Ensuring Data Security and Compliance in Remote Work

In this day and age, data security is a major concern for all companies, but it’s even more important when you have a remote workforce. When your team is accessing sensitive information from their home networks and personal devices, extra precautions are needed.

Implementing Secure Remote Access Protocols

Start by implementing secure remote access protocols. This might include:

  • Requiring the use of a virtual private network (VPN).
  • Implementing two-factor authentication.
  • Using encryption for sensitive data.

Work with your IT team to develop policies and procedures that keep your company’s data safe and secure at all times.

Providing Secure Devices and Software

Whenever possible, provide your remote employees with company-issued devices that are configured with the necessary security measures. This allows you to maintain control over the hardware and software being used to access your company’s information. If employees must use personal devices, ensure they have up-to-date antivirus software, and they are following all the security protocols you have in place.

Conducting Regular Security Training

Your remote employees are your first line of defense against cyber threats. That’s why regular security training is so important. Training should cover topics like:

  • How to spot and avoid phishing scams.
  • The importance of strong, unique passwords.
  • How to handle and protect sensitive data.
  • What to do if a security breach is suspected.

Make sure training is engaging and interactive, not just a boring lecture. Use real-world examples and hands-on exercises to drive the points home. One of my clients even had their IT department randomly send out spoof emails to train and teach their employees not to open suspicious emails or click on random links.

Establishing Data Protection Policies

Develop clear data protection policies and make sure all your remote employees are aware of them. Policies should cover things like:

  • What constitutes sensitive data?
  • How data should be stored and accessed.
  • Who has permission to access certain types of data?
  • Steps to follow in the event of a data breach.

Have employees sign off on these policies to ensure everyone is aware and on the same page.

Key Takeaway:

To accommodate different time zones, set core hours and rotate meeting times. Use async tools like Slack for flexibility.

Don’t forget to respect employee off-hours, ensure onboarding includes virtual training and buddy systems, uphold data security with strict protocols, and promote work-life balance by leading by example.


At the end of the day, managing a remote team takes a bit of work, but with the right approach, you can ensure the success of your virtual crew. So focus on building trust, encourage open communication, and use the right software and tools to keep everyone connected and aligned. Because as a remote team manager, the correct management strategy unlocks your team’s full potential, no matter where they are located.

So, create a virtual workspace that inspires your team to do their best every day, stay curious, be bold, and lead with compassion and purpose. Once your team believes in you, you’re on your way to making remote work a success for your company!

remote team manager


About Author
Brad Wedin

Brad Wedin brought over 25 years of management and operations expertise to NextRev Services. He founded the company with the strategic goal of helping Business Owners, CEOs, GMs, and Upper Management overcome their operational challenges and obstacles.

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