Leading Remote Teams: Challenges and Best Practices

Remote leadership is a bit more tricky, as you don’t have the opportunity to see your team members in person. You have to rethink your procedures and systems, find ways to build relationships within the team despite the distance, prevent burnout and social isolation, and find ways to evaluate your employees. But, with a bit of empathy, flexibility, trust, and motivation, you can take your virtual team management to the next level and achieve better results than in a traditional office. Let’s discuss this further.

The Challenges of Remote Team Management

While employees usually prefer remote work, managers often fear it. After all, it comes with new challenges that we might not know how to tackle. What are they? Here is a short list:

Rethinking Your Procedures

One size does not fit all, and your traditional approach won’t succeed in virtual team management. Therefore, your first challenge is to remodel your systems and procedures and tailor them to the needs of remote work.

This might mean changing how you verify your employees, implementing software that will help you evaluate your team’s engagement and time spent on tasks, and maybe even rethinking how you schedule the assignments.

Building Relationships

In the office, your employees can grab a coffee and chat with each other for a few minutes; while working from home, that’s impossible.

Finding new ways to establish and build relationships in your team is one of the most critical challenges in remote leadership. It’s easier if everybody lives in the same area since you can organize integration events, but what if your team members are spread all over the country? How to help them interact with each other in a way that won’t feel forced? You have to find answers to these questions. Maybe colleague mentorship or setting up some hobby groups on Slack (or any other communicator you’re using) will do the trick?

Preventing Burnout

One dangerous fact about remote work is that it blurs personal and professional life boundaries. This might lead your employees to a major crisis or even burnout, especially if other challenges, such as social isolation, are involved. You need to prevent that from happening.

The first and foremost effort that you should undertake is overcoming the other challenges on this list. Then, you may follow up with measures that will prevent your employees from the likes of overtime, as they might tend to, unintentionally, stay longer or try to compensate for the time they spent on their personal lives while on the clock.

Stopping Social Isolation

Another possible problem in remote leadership is that your team members might…not leave home after work. It’s possible that working from home will lead to them isolating themselves from their friends, family, or colleagues. Thankfully, you can prevent it.

Introduce bonus programs, like movie theater cards or sports activity financing, and promote them in your company. This will encourage more employees to go out and get a healthy dose of socializing.

Evaluating Your Team Members

How to evaluate your team members if you have no control over whether they are indeed working? That’s yet another challenge that you need to overcome.

One good idea here is to establish a task-based system, where you estimate the time your employees need for each job and plan their schedules accordingly. You might also use tools to verify whether your team members are actively doing their jobs on the computer. The problem here is that you have to select a solution tailored to the nature of the job, one that won’t feel too threatening for the employees but will let you collect accurate data.

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Remote Management Best Practices

We have explained what obstacles you will need to overcome in remote leadership, so now, let’s focus on how to do it. What are the remote management best practices? Namely:


Try to understand your employees. Being away from the computer doesn’t mean that someone is slacking off – if it’s just 5 minutes, someone might have needed to do something urgent, so there is no reason to scold them or impose any consequences. We’re all people, after all.


Remote work might be different for every employee, so your virtual team management should take this into account. Allow a slight level of flexibility to help all your colleagues adapt.


You will have less control when managing a remote team than in the office, so accept it. Evaluate the results, but have some trust in your employees – trying to micromanage them will not only lower their satisfaction with the job but also make the work more stressful and reduce productivity.


Keep your employees motivated by being an example yourself or introducing gamification. Consider a bonus system to show that good work pays off.

The Takeaway

As you can see, remote team management is difficult. But, if you follow the best practices and our solutions to each challenge, you will achieve much better results than in the office, with your employees being happier, less stressed out, and more motivated. So, become an example, have some empathy, trust your employees (but evaluate their work), and be flexible!

You may also read: Should You Go Back to Work in the Office? Pros and Cons

colleague mentorship