In the new economy, an increasingly large number of workers are independent or working from home. It is a place where teams can function together in totally different parts of the globe. But in a situation where collaboration is expected out of people who probably don’t know each other, and potentially have very different lives, how can we effectively manage these workers?

Read on for a few steps you can take to make sure that your remote teams are functioning at a high level.

A culture of innovation. If you’re operating a business with remote teams, innovation is likely already on your radar, but it needs to start from within. The members of your team need to know that they are more than robots and the system they’re working in is not a closed loop. Leave the door open for innovations within the company, and actively seek them out.

Hire the right people. More and more people are seeking to work remotely. Finding quality people is no longer a question of access to information. Now, information is freely available and anyone can prepare themselves to do almost any job. Make sure you hire the candidates who are best prepared to fill the roles your project requires. 

Empower those people. Let them know that they are the right people for the job. Tell them that not only are they not robots, they are integral to the success of the project. Great results depend on them, and true innovation resides in each of their individual heads.

Have a system in place, supported by technology. Working on the same project in different locations presents a challenge that tools are just now emerging to solve. Slack, Trello, and GoToMeeting are different services that are very effective for project management, collaboration, and even just socializing.

Regular communication. Try to normalize communication as much as possible. Use your tools and establish a routine. Without physically being around each other, you’ll need to be intentional about planning regular times for check-ins with your team, as well as video conferences that will keep everyone feeling part of the team and on the same page.

A flat(ter) hierarchy. A flat hierarchy may or may not be the right move for your organization. If you decide to go in that direction, you’re looking at a situation where each employee has more individual responsibility and are accountable to each other. Even if you’re not ready to go full-Holacracy, a flatter hierarchy will help distribute responsibility and accountability to the organization’s benefit.

Like a traditional office environment, managing remote teams has challenges. However, a close examination of your company values and a vote of trust in your employees can yield surprisingly effective results. Are you working as part of a remote team? Have questions about implementing remote teams into your new or existing organization? Let me know in the comments or reach out to me directly at

photo credit: World on a String via photopin (license)