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Successfully Managing a Diverse, Geographically Dispersed Team

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Published:
April 29, 2022
Reading Time:
7 minutes
Gizela
Gizela has almost two decades of experience within the Digital sphere and eagerly awaits the day she can be cloned so she can finally get everything on her daily to-do list done

The digital era has seen us connecting remotely for decades now. Old friends could find each other again on social media platforms. Parents could keep in touch with children and grandchildren who have immigrated and businessmen and women could have their meeting with Japan from their boardroom in Chicago. But even though we had gotten used to a much smaller digitally connected world, nothing could’ve ever prepared us for that which was to come.

Digital Nomads and a Global Pandemic

Bob Dylan once sang “and times, they are a changin’”. Never have these words rang more true than the past decade. First, there was a shift in culture with the new generations. The older generations lived a pretty cookie-cutter life: Go to college, get a job, get married, buy a house, have children and wait ‘till pension so you can really start living.

The younger generations are no longer interested in this old white-picket-fence-model.

They don’t want to wait ‘till their 60s to start their life and with the cost of living increasing on the daily, many have completely let go of the idea of ever owning a house.

Young people have started taking gap years after high school to travel the world and find themselves. Others purposefully abandoned their line of study to become an English teacher in a foreign country simply to experience different places. Many of these individuals never returned home and built completely new lives wherever they found themselves.

A lot of these teachers started giving online training as English schools evolved into online platforms and others started doing remote data capturing etc. Slowly, the opportunities for connecting remotely and making a proper living started increasing and so the Digital Nomad was born.

Digital Nomads are people who are able to travel the world since their jobs allow them to work 100% remotely.

As you can imagine, this also opened up the world to more diverse consultants. Still, people looked at Digital Nomads as the roaming hippies and “gypsies” of the world. Opinions about them ranged from people viewing them as extremely lucky to people viewing them as lost souls without any real substance.

However, that changed pretty quickly when the global pandemic hit. As the government instated one lockdown after another, companies were scrambling to find ways of connecting remotely with employees and still be fully operational. Many businesses were unable to do so and became Covid casualties. But, those who managed to make the digital leap soon found themselves in uncharted territory.

Navigating this “new normal” of connecting remotely led to many funny broadcasting and meeting situations. But as time went by and it was clear that we won’t be returning to the “old normal” any time soon, connecting remotely also led to time tracking apps. Moreover, HR starting to hire from pools of candidates from all over the world.

Management within this new structure is often challenging as this is still very new ground to most companies.

“The once-science-fiction notion of hyper-connectivity – where we are all constantly connected to social networks and other bubbling streams of digital data – has rapidly become a widespread reality.” – Geoff Mulgan

Can You Successfully Manage a Diverse, Geographically Dispersed Team?

Whether diverse consultants or permanent employees, it is 100% possible to run a successful remote team. But it will demand certain changes and a few mindset shifts.

Give a little to get a lot

Managing a remote team requires flexibility. So what if Mary went to do her groceries at 11:00 on a Tuesday morning? As long as she meets all her deadlines and works her weekly hours, it shouldn’t be a problem. The old-school power imbalance of boss vs. employee is not going to work with a remote team. In fact, with more and more remote working options popping up every day, this kind of power imbalance is your one-way-ticket to a shocking employee-turnover rate. There’s no need to micromanage your team and this kind of flexibility builds a lot of loyalty among team members.

managing a team, Successfully Managing a Diverse, Geographically Dispersed Team

Set precise communication guidelines

Being able to work so independently can end up in us being like ships passing each other by. Living in individual work bubbles can lead to a lot of miscommunication and balls being dropped. Set up specific communication channels for specific purposes. Give team members and any diverse consultants a way to communicate with each other in real-time via a chat platform such as Skype or Slack. Set expectations for turnaround times via email. Also decide which platform you’ll be using to host meetings. Will it be Zoom, Google Meet or another option?


Ensure that your team has access to the right tools and software

Connecting remotely comes with its fair share of digital platforms, tools and software. Some of these are free, but many are paid-for. It’s unreasonable to expect employees to pay for these (unless they are contractors, of course). This can be anything from Project Management Tools such as Asana to storage such as Google Drive.


Don’t overstep your bounds

Just because you’re connecting remotely doesn’t mean that your team is available to you 24/7. This is another power imbalance to be weary of. Even though you are no longer in the office together, office hours still apply and overtime still exists.


Prioritize real connections

Turns out employees gathering in the break room or around the water cooler is not just wasting company time and money – it’s crucial to bond and connect an organization together. That’s why it’s so important to create this same opportunity, but virtually. Many companies instated mandatory status meetings which were merely check-ins and ensured that employees still felt part of something larger than their laptops and their couch.

As we continue down the road of remote working teams, we’re discovering more productive ways to work and more efficient ways to manage our teams. If you would like to learn more about management, the new way of consulting or just business in general, please take a look at our free resources here.