How to Engage a Remote Team


How to Engage a Remote Team

June 17, 2012
Photo of a Remote Project Team

Do you work with remote teams? If yes, then you will most likely agree that keeping a remote team fully engaged with the project is not a trivial thing. It needs special skills and experience to make the remote team effective. What are the best practices that you follow to keep the remote team engaged?

Here’s how you can keep your remote team engaged:

  1. Conduct a project kickoff meeting at the start of the project.

Set expectations as you explain the project work to the team.

  1. Create granular tasks (no more than 6-8 hrs).

A granular task is one that is finely detailed to the level that it can fit in an estimate of no more than 6-8 hours. The fine details are key to keeping the remote team member engaged, as the details should either answer any questions the team member may have or serve as a point of reference to effective questions.

  1. Ask for daily progress emails.

From each of the remote team members ask for a daily progress email (not a formal status report) or some other way for them to update the status of the tasks for that day. Since the tasks are smaller so it would be easier to make a judgement on their performance on daily basis.

  1. Provide clear escalation guidelines.

Provide an SLA (service level agreement) kind of expectations for escalating the issues that they may face while working on their tasks. This will ensure that they work on their issues and escalate them in a proactive and timely manner.

  1. Assign them several tasks and clearly indicate the priority.

Doing this will help them to remain busy and productive just in case they were stuck on a task because of an unresolved issue.

  1. Ask them to copy you on correspondence.

Ask them to CC you on any emails that they send to anyone talking about an issue or difficulty that they are facing. That way you would be alerted and may follow up as needed. This type of communication request should also be on a communication plan.

  1. Set up a regular talk time with them, either one-on-one or together.

It would be a status review meeting or a SCRUM meeting (if you’re following Agile). Some regular touch points are very valuable in keeping the team members engaged and ensuring that they continue working even if you’re not in front of them.

  1. Set performance standards, and reward the good work more frequently.

Let them know that you expect them to complete the tasks on daily basis as scheduled.

As a project manager of a remote team, you may have to work in a very proactive, consistent, and agile manner to keep your remote team members engaged and effective for the project.

Do you manage or work on a remote team? Do you have any tips that you’ve found useful? Let us know in the comments.

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