Increased productivity, employee satisfaction, and reduced overhead have teams around the globe going virtual — but not without overcoming the challenges of managing remote teams first.\nWhile we’re certainly guilty of championing remote work as a remote team ourselves, a number of problems can arise when transitioning from a traditional office setting.\nWhat management tools will we use? Will our days be filled with virtual meetings? Will our company culture suffer?\nThese are probably just a few of many remote work-related questions you’re asking yourself. We’re here to help.\nOur entire Hubstaff team works remotely and has since 2012, so you can rest assured that we won’t sugarcoat it for you. Managing remote workers can be a challenge — but only if you’re not prepared.\nThat’s why we’ve outlined five remote management challenges you’ll need to conquer.\nTable of contents\n\nCommunication\nScheduling\nCreating an accepting culture\nBuilding a workspace around trust\nSharing in success\n\nChallenges of managing remote employees\n1. Communication\nIf there’s one remote work challenge you absolutely have to overcome, it’s communication.\nCommunication is the cause of almost every other management issue. Managers provide direction at every step of a project or business initiative, so they need to be extremely good at communicating the strategy and understanding what’s happening within a team. Similarly, team members need to provide progress updates, understand “the why” behind a project, and handoff work seamlessly to ensure initiatives stay on track.\nEfficient, effective communication is the cornerstone of any functioning group — and it is especially crucial for remote teams.\nCoordinating virtual team members can be challenging, and communication can be a big stumbling block for many companies successfully navigating remote hiring. In fact, 45.8% of remote managers state that a lack of communication is the biggest challenge to managing remote teams.\nWhen communication falters, a number of problems arise:\n\nWork progress suffers\nTraining new hires takes longer\nMorale worsens\nBurnout risk increases\n\nCommunication issues can be devastating to a company, but there is a solution.\nPotential solution: Communication manifesto\nDesirable communication varies across different cultures, demographics, and age groups, so it’s important to set some ground rules for how your team plans to communicate.\nThe best way to do this? Create a communication manifesto.\nAt Hubstaff, our communication manifesto helps us answer a few basic questions:\n\nWhat communication channel will you prioritize? (Phone calls, video conferencing, email, instant messaging)\nHow do you signal and enforce focus\/uninterrupted work time?\nWhat hours do you expect employees to be available?\n\nWant to create one of your own? Check out our template.\n\n\n\n2. Scheduling\nWhen all of your employees are in the same geographic region, it’s easier to set clear expectations concerning hours worked. However, if your remote employees are located around the globe, coordinating work time can be a lot more difficult.\n\nWhen managing across different time zones, it can be hard to find any overlap at all. This makes it difficult to know if your team is working. You might ask yourself:\n\nAre they logging in for scheduled shifts?\nAre customer support questions being answered?\nAre deadlines being met?\n\nSometimes scheduling challenges become so overwhelming that it’s hard to hold employees to any semblance of a schedule at all. Of course, giving up on scheduling altogether could actually help you in the long run.\nPotential solution: Asynchronous work\nAsynchronous work is becoming increasingly common amongst remote teams. When time zone and location differences get you down, allow your team to work the hours they want. It’s one of the perks you should take advantage of when it comes to remote work.\nWhether you choose to adopt a fully asynchronous schedule or incorporate traditional scheduling techniques, just make sure you communicate effectively. Before making this drastic shift, make sure to outline deadlines, communication ethics, time tracking practices, and other collaboration guidelines.\n\nThe solution for better remote management\nTrack time, employee activity, and more with Hubstaff’s free, 14-day trial.\n\n\n3. Creating an accepting culture\nDiverse teams are beautiful and powerful. In fact, diverse teams perform 35% better than their competitors.\nMaking your workplace inclusive becomes increasingly difficult with a remote workforce. Languages, cultural differences, religious beliefs, gender identities, and other factors are difficult to handle on-site but become even more challenging without direct communication.\nThese differences can impact how employees interact with one another, how they prioritize project tasks, what they deem to be a success, and so on.\nEven personality types, work habits, and other psychological factors can lead to management issues.\nWith so many individuals from unique points of view working together, how can you create a culture where everyone feels welcomed, integral to the company’s success, and encouraged to do their best work?\nPotential solution: Virtual and in-person retreats\nThe best way to embrace your culture is to invest in it. Virtual team building helps your employees strengthen relationships and build chemistry. One of the best ways to do this is a retreat.\nRetreats allow remote teams to put work on the back burner and learn more about their teammates — and have a little fun in the process. At Hubstaff, we gather annually for an in-person retreat. In the past, we’ve gone to The Dominican Republic, Portugal, Cancun, and a slew of other places.\nOf course, meeting in person can be one of the most common challenges. When other factors keep us from gathering, such as the COVID-19 pandemic, we still make sure to hold a virtual retreat. Virtual retreats help us learn about one another’s cultures, families, and interests. It gives us the chance to gather around a virtual water cooler and discuss important topics like the company roadmap, burnout factors, how we’re approaching work-life balance, and any big challenges we face as individuals or as teams.\nWhen we return to work, an increased sense of community helps us empathize with one another when communicating and collaborating. This is one of the best ways to build trust in a remote team.\n4. Building a workspace around trust\nWithout actually spending time together, both employers and employees may see a diminished sense of trust and cohesion.\nFace-to-face interactions and daily communication help us bond. These interactions are less common with a remote team, but that doesn’t mean trust can’t be built in other ways. The true challenge is coming up with ways to establish and foster trust.\nEven with the most cohesive and functioning virtual teams, there will simply be less oversight of remote employees. This can manifest in the form of missed deadlines, longer meetings, and micromanagement.\nThese issues aren’t sustainable. So how can you trust your employees while still ensuring they get their work done correctly and on time?\nPotential solution: Employee productivity tracking technology\nMeasuring productivity can be a challenge. Sadly, 36% of remote managers state that it’s difficult for them to understand what each team member is working on (and when).\nWhether you look at website and app usage or keyboard and mouse activity, setting measurable productivity goals is a fair way to set and gauge expectations for each of your employees. Having the right employee productivity app and project management software can help ensure that the right work is getting done on time.\n5. Sharing in success\nIt’s much easier to celebrate your team’s successes when you work in an office. Whether it’s going out to lunch to celebrate a big promotion or grabbing drinks when you meet sales goals, gathering is relatively easy.\nIt can be a challenge for remote teams to show their appreciation when their team reaches a major accomplishment. Even smaller, day-to-day accomplishments are harder to notice. Simple acts of positive reinforcement go a long way in helping your team build chemistry and do their best work. You’ll be fighting an uphill battle here.\nPotential solution: Slack channel\nHere at Hubstaff, we were worried about our team’s success going unnoticed. One of the things we’ve done to keep achievements front and center is by creating a Slack channel.\n\nOur #Hubstars Slack channel is an opportunity to show gratitude to our fellow teammates and congratulate them on their success — no matter how big or small they may seem.\nWe’ve created an incentives program within this channel to take it a step further. If your supervisor or another Hubstaff teammate congratulates a team member on their work via the #Hubstars channel, a small bonus will be added to their next paycheck.\n\nThe future is virtual\nManage global virtual teams better with a free, 14-day Hubstaff trial. Time tracking, project management, and more.\n\n\nFinal thoughts\nWell, there you have it. Remote team management certainly comes with its fair share of obstacles. We feel the positive effects of remote work far outweigh the challenges we face.\nWe all want to have successful, productive workdays. Aiming to create the best possible work environment, remote or otherwise, makes all the difference.\nIf you’re just starting to manage remote team members, we hope this post helped you find a realistic barometer for the challenges you may face. If you have questions, comments, or concerns, drop us a comment.\nIf you’ve found solutions of your own you’d like to share, we’re all ears.\nThis post was originally published September 29, 2017, and updated in April 2022.