For a variety of reasons, be it a cultural shift in the workplace or a major event like COVID-19, more companies have employees working remotely with little to no in-person interaction. And, for every time there’s a remote employee, there’s also someone who’s tasked with managing a remote team.

So, how can you keep a support team happy and working together when they are 10, 100, or even 1,000 miles apart? Here are 7 tips for managing a remote customer support team…

1) Make sure the right communication channels are in place – Email and phone alone often isn’t enough. Your team should spend most of their day working within a customer support software solution and collaborating to solve customer issues efficiently.

2) Be extra clear with your internal communication – With all your team on the same software, it’s a great place to let them know what you need. However, make sure you’re clear and specific in what you expect from your support team when making a demand. Remember, you don’t have facial expressions to read, so ask with clarity your requests unless they’re urgent. Don’t hesitate to ask a leadership colleague for a second opinion on your tone and language if needed.

3) Lean on the side of trust, especially with long-term employees – This is very true if an entire team moves from working in an office to remote all at once because can be difficult to adjust your leadership style. Don’t let the distance turn you into a micro manager. Instead, trust that your support employees that are doing their job and producing results, especially people who’ve worked for you for a long time. They’ve earned it, and if you must you can monitor their productivity within your support software. After all, trusting your employees will help build customer trust as well.

4) Set aside moments “just to chat” as needed with team members – As you navigate remote leadership, you’ll notice some employees thrive in a home environment while others can struggle. One support employee can go several days without chatting with leadership and still be highly productive, while another may need more conversations and video chats. With the latter, take time each day to touch base with them to boost their morale and keep them focused on what’s important.

5) Encourage light-hearted conversations – When everyone is remote, you’re not having as many conversations about casual topics like family, sports, or music that builds bonds outside of a traditional work structure. Encourage this communication weekly, even if it’s just for a few minutes at the start of a staff meeting. It reminds everyone they’re working with real people doing unique and creative things outside of work every day.

6) Create a scheduled time for all team members to come together – After the light-hearted conversation dies down, it’s time to get to business. An all-hands staff meeting at least once a week is critical for aligning team members with greater objectives and goals. In addition, this support team collaboration also helps employees better understand the problems their colleagues have been facing and how they can help.

7) Provide extra attention to BRAND NEW remote employees – Lastly, joining a fully remote team as a new support person can be difficult. They’re likely just getting a computer and being asked to sign on and help, with no sense of personality or corporate culture that can be obtained from meeting colleagues in person. If possible, create a special onboarding experience specifically for brand new remote employees that spans across multiple departments so they have point people to ask questions to if needed.

In short, managing a remote customer support team can be challenging, but at the same time it can be an enjoyable and rewarding experience. Creating a team that is also connected digitally can be powerful and improve not only the lives of your team but your customers as well!