As the speed of communication increases and the technology to enable that becomes more accessible to everyone; organisations have much more choice and freedom in locating and engaging the best workers. For managers that presents a series of new challenges.

Here are 10 top tips for leading remote teams:

1. Know your team

Do your team members have the specific strengths of ability to work on their own with minimal supervision and being able to manage time with all the distractions working remotely can have?

2. Technology is great, when it works!

Virtual teams rely on technology so you need to ensure your technology is up to scratch, as well as that of your virtual team members. Computers need to have up to date programmes and security software, broadband needs to be fast and reliable and inboxes need to be able to cope with large documents and email volumes.

3. Focus on ensuring things go right, not stopping things going wrong

Make sure your policies and reporting protocols are there to help people work remotely not putting restrictions on them such as data access and clocking in.

4. Focus on outputs and not time keeping

Virtual teams are not visible so how do you know they are working and not watching day time TV. The key here is if their agreed outputs are met does it matter if they watch Bargain Hunt?

5. Communication is king

Not seeing someone face to face to take into account tone of voice or body language can lead to mis-understanding, especially when dealing with international teams where cultural differences come into play. So communicate precisely and regularly.

6. Clarify, clarify, clarify!

It is important to ensure that at all stages of a project you check that all participants are clear as to their role and their outputs. Stay in regular contact but don't be breathing down their necks checking they are working 9 to 5.

7. Facilitate not impose

Be strong but engage active listening and allow people to develop and become empowered. Ensure all outputs and procedures are agreed in advance and that team members know you are there if they need you.

8. Develop and maintain multi-way trust

This is about you trusting that people will complete their work appropriately and on time, but also that they trust that you will let them do that in their own way and support them when they need it.

9. Don't shy away from performance issues

Regular contact throughout a project with specific agreed outputs should prevent people taking advantage of the virtual system, but if you think people are then deal with it quickly and fairly in order to protect the team as a whole.

10. Know when to call it a day

For some teams and projects virtual just doesn't work, accept this and bring things back in-house.

Article by Lynne Hammond of Pet&r LLP.

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