The Visibility Struggle: Why Leading Remote Teams Is So Difficult, Even in 2023

The Visibility Struggle: Why Leading Remote Teams Is So Difficult, Even in 2023
Photo by Sigmund / Unsplash

That feeling when you're managing a remote team and have no idea what's REALLY actually going on day-to-day...

Distributed teams rely on the likes of Slack, Asana, Jira and other apps to collaborate. and other apps to collaborate. But all that business-critical information siloed across different tools can leave managers totally in the dark.

If this sounds familiar, you're not alone. In working with numerous managers and leaders, we've heard consistent struggles to gain visibility into their remote teams' work. This post explores the remote visibility gap through their experiences and how leaders can close it.

The Struggle is Real: Stories from the Frontlines

Let me tell you a story based on numerous managers, team leaders and PM’s  we've worked with. I believe you may have similar pains...

Mark was excited to take on a new 20-person remote team scattered globally. He had over 8+ years experience leading co-located teams, and felt up to the challenge.

During the kickoff, he outlined goals, plans and guidelines on using Slack, Jira and Asana. The first few weeks went smoothly, with decent results.

But over time, Mark started feeling increasingly in the dark about the status and tracking of key daily activities. Status updates lacked context,  he only heard about issues when they were escalated, and  providing asynchronous feedback was difficult.

Mark found himself spending hours in the weeds, combing across every app trying to puzzle together the full picture. He longed for the visibility he felt he once had.

Without proper visibility, Mark worried he might start micromanaging to compensate. He knew that could erode his team's trust and motivation.

After a major deadline was missed, he knew he needed solutions to bridge the remote visibility gap. He felt out of touch, preventing him from unblocking issues before they became bigger problems.

Mark's story highlights visibility struggles managers and team leaders face:

  • No transparency into the workstreams spread across multiple  siloed apps
  • Inability to spot problems proactively
  • No view into remote collaboration dynamics
  • Difficulty providing timely feedback

Without comprehensive visibility, managers feel frustrated and teams feel directionless. Let's explore why...

Why Remote Work Obscures Visibility

There are a few key reasons why visibility into distributed teams suffers:

  • Asynchronous Communication - Remote teams rely heavily on asynchronous Slack chats, emails, documents, and tasks. The real-time context and urgency of conversations is lost.
  • Information Spreads Across Multiple Apps - With no central workplace, important conversations, documents, and work artifacts spread across different tools. There's no one place to connect the dots.
  • No Overhearing Conversations - You can't simply walk around having casual chats and overhear relevant discussions when teams are dispersed.
  • Remote Cultures Form - Distributed teams build their own virtual micro-cultures, in-jokes, and norms. Leaders have limited visibility into these emergent dynamics.
Photo by christopher lemercier / Unsplash

Closing the Remote Visibility Gap

While remote work introduces visibility challenges, the right tools and practices can help leaders regain insight.

A tool like ALLO consolidates ALL relevant data, workstreams and communications across your team apps –  Slack, Asana, Jira, GitHub, and so many other platforms,  into a single integrated view. It’s like having a management “cockpit” whereby managers can start each morning with a personalized cross-app view of the most relevant conversations, tasks, commits, and documents happening across their team.

And, powerful analytics provide visibility into collaboration patterns and team dynamics. Filter by timeframe, apps, people, projects, and more. Display charts on wall-mounted dashboards.

By centralizing distributed data into an easy-to-use management cockpit, ALLO closes the remote visibility gap. Leaders regain the insight needed to provide guidance, remove obstacles, and keep distributed teams aligned and empowered.

The visibility struggle is real, but solutions like ALLO demonstrate how new project management technology can be used to dramatically improve remote leadership. What specific ways could a tool like ALLO help you manage distributed teams? What data would be most valuable? Let's keep the discussion going…

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