remote working

You’re doing a great thing letting your team members work remotely.

Employees who are given the option to work remotely can tend to their physical needs, mental health and familial demands without having to take time off. And those are just the practical benefits; zoom out further and your travel-oriented colleagues will be able to pursue their travel goals thanks to the flexibility.

The benefits expand to the entire company, too: offering this will help attract the best talent and retain employees longer. Let this positive initiative reach its full potential by leading your team of remote workers effectively.

Remote work can have a negative connotation to some people because it feels reminiscent of the forced remote work frenzy that Covid-19 caused. Many companies and managers were unequipped to lead a remote team when it was suddenly forced on them in 2020.

Now, given the expansive research and technology at your disposal, it’s time for your best leadership yet. Get started now with these five tips for managing a team of digital nomads.

1. Clear Expectations

Your team members want you to be pleased with their performance, and they need to know what your expectations are in order to do that. Clear expectations cover:

  • Availability and working hours
  • Use of tools/technology
  • Communication
  • Task deadlines
  • Reporting

It’s easier for these expectations to naturally arise over time in the office, but when teammates aren’t working side by side, these need to be explicitly communicated.

2. Routine Communication

How often do you want to hear updates from your employees? This is an important question to answer before allowing members to go across the globe.

Establish regular communication touch points between management, individual team members and entire departments or projects teams. This may cover email, phone calls or direct messaging, depending on team needs.

Additional passive communication tools, such as task management software, can be leveraged (point #3).

3. Task Management Software

Task management software, such as Trello or Asana, are collaborative tools that allow multiple team members to work on projects simultaneously and log their progress. This is particularly impactful for when you have team members between time zones and work on deadline-sensitive tasks.

Using software like this allows you to see at a glance:

  • What stage projects are at
  • What tasks each team member is currently working on
  • If projects are on schedule or falling behind

There’s huge time-saving potential for management with this type of software. Instead of having to ask for updates on where multiple tasks or deliverables are at (and wait for responses from people across time zones), you can look at a glance and see updates from all team members.

Identify task management tools that everyone on the team is comfortable using and require consistent usage of the platform to keep the system updated and accurate.

4. Encourage Autonomy

Micromanaging is a time-waster in the office, and it requires even more energy to micromanage employees when they’re working remotely. If there’s lack of trust with your employees, address why that is and implement ways to improve the relationship.

Strive to build a team of independent employees that meets expectations without requiring constant reminders and follow-ups.

5. Socialisation Opportunities

There’s an enormous amount of time in the office spent socialising. Without those morning chats and office lunches occurring naturally, you’ll need to structurally build socialising into your weeks or months.

Establishing social time encourages team building and promotes company culture. Host routine remote events or annual in-person events for socialisation and fun.

laptop and jungle Kayla Ihrig
Kayla Ihrig working in the jungle, in Mexico

Final Thoughts

I became a digital nomad in 2017 and have been abroad ever since. I’ve been a part of countless conversations between digital nomads talking about their work arrangements. Many of us traded in jobs that we liked for the flexibility of freelancing.

A digital nomad with an employer that supports them working from anywhere turns heads in conversation and inevitably warrants a “are they hiring?” inquiry from at least one other traveller.

Kudos to your company for leaning into the future of work and giving your employees the flexibility that they’re asking for. Adjusting to having employees scattered across the world will take time, but it’s completely possible to have a happy and functioning team of digital nomads.

Who knows where this opportunity will take any of your teammates (or you).

About the Author

Kayla IhrigKayla Ihrig bought a one-way ticket out of the United States in 2017 and has spent most of her time abroad ever since. She is the author of How to Be a Digital Nomad: Build a Successful Career While Travelling the World, (out now, Kogan Page).