How to Manage Teams Outside Your Office

Coordinating office efforts can prove difficult within the confines of your own building. So when you’re working with a team that is on the road, in a different time zone, or across the pond, things can easily ripple out of control. Be sure your hard work is put to good use with effective communication.

1. Keep Communication Consistent. Unchecked teams can easily get derailed, so you need to check in regularly. Also keep your form of communication consistent. If e-mail is what gets your team in motion, after phone conversations or important informal discussions, send a prompt e-mail to the team with the highlights. Spell out what you need from them.

2. Use the Cloud. Take advantage of remote file synchronization and move files off servers if you find you’re consistently on the go. Get as much paper as you can into the cloud. Let your team have access to notes, collaborate on documents, or even file expenses digitally. It is quite easy to clutter a desk in paperwork—make it just as easy to eliminate that problem.

3. Stay Accessible. Studies show that teams don’t tend to take advantage of collaboration tools. Use whatever works, whether that’s IM, Skype, or Google Docs, to stay on top of work. Simply allowing your team to see that everyone is plugged in visually lets them know the distributed office is there and being productive. Messaging services also let team members ask quick questions, reschedule calls, or bounce ideas off a co-worker informally and fast.

4. Don’t Fear the Meeting. No one likes meeting for the sake of meeting but it’s critical to have at least weekly check-ins to keep teams on track. Keep a tight agenda and be respectful of your team’s time.

This article was written by Prasad Thammineni and published in Bloomberg Businessweek magazine.

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