As long as you have the right tools and methods in place, you can easily create a fabulous team of people who successfully work remotely. But, if you aren’t careful, it can be easy to assemble a team that falls apart. Often, remote teams succumb to the “set it and forget it” problem. It’s super important that you remember your team needs to feel included in company culture and also monitored for productivity, while feeling like they have some autonomy. It can be a complex situation.
Make your expectations clear
When you’re building a remote team, it is even more vital for you to be clear about what you’re looking for in their day-to-day work lives. When you have people on your team with whom you do not have daily, personal interactions it is crucial that you have clear expectations and policies in place.
When you have clear, well-communicated expectations in place, your team will be much more likely to be successful.
Lay out your policies
Tell them exactly what they must do each day. These policies can include things like their daily availability and how you plan to share information. For instance:
- Daily hours. Will you allow them to set their own schedules or are they required to be available during the regular business day? What time zone will they need to attribute these hours?
- Data sharing. How will your team organize data and share it amongst themselves? Will they have an online toolbox or will you be relying on email? How will they collaborate effectively if they are not local to one another?
- Progress measurement and promotions. How will you decide which team members are doing well? What will you use to track progress and project completion? How will you determine who deserves promotions?
Think outside the box when hiring
Traditionally when a position opens up in a company, an employer will go through a stack of resumes and then call people in for face-to-face interviews. When a company decides to open up a position to remote workers, the hiring process needs to shift drastically.
The things an employer might be looking for in a remote worker could be drastically different than you’d typically hire for face to face employees. For example, you may want someone with excellent written communication skills and strong intrinsic motivation if they will be working remotely. Whereas if you were hiring someone to work in your office, you may not need such strong written communication skills because you could have face to face conversations with them daily.
Also, your pool of candidates may be derived from other sources. Online pools of professionals become an essential tool when seeking candidates that are well versed in social media outlets and technology. Places like LinkedIn become invaluable in researching a candidate’s viability as an employee.
Also, be prepared to offer your potential employees online, phone, or video interviews instead of a traditional sit down interview. This broadens your pool of potential team members.
Update your tech and tools
There are so many apps, programs, and technology related tools that can help your remote team best work together.
Working remotely presents some challenges regarding the way employers are able to communicate with employees. Email, though an industry standard, is not always the best way. It is important to familiarize yourself with other online methods of communication for your remote team. Tools such as Slack or Skype allow video call options and an ability to speak to your whole group at once.
For sharing ideas:
You will also want to utilize a file and data sharing tool like Google Docs or Dropbox so that all members of your team can collaborate on projects effectively. These programs give your team the opportunity to share ideas quickly, and all contribute to the same file.
For management piece of mind:
Managers sometimes have a hard time letting go of the reins and letting their remote team go. To give your management a little piece of mind, there are lots of tools you can utilize that access employee productivity and help to manage large projects. Some really cool project management tools are available through Monday.com or Basecamp, programs designed to keep everyone apprised of deadlines and project checklists.
You can also enlist the support of a time-tracking tool like Timesheets which can monitor how long projects are taking to complete and log how many hours individuals are contributing per day. These tools help to keep everyone accountable for their time as well as keep team members on task.
Promote positive company culture
When your workforce is remotely working, it can be hard to maintain any kind of company culture, not to mention a positive one. It is important for managers and team leaders to contribute creative ideas to promote a culture which encourages employees to aim for longevity.
Offering quarterly meetings where team members can meet face to face is one, easy way to maintain a strong company connection and promote a positive culture. Requiring regular video conference calls is also a good idea to keep everyone feeling like their work relationships are personalized which will bring employees together.
We’ve heard of employers requiring a weekly “coffee meeting” for their remote employees. This would be where all team members head to their local coffee shop for their weekly video conference call. Managers can even send gift cards for their team’s cup of choice if they’ve earned some recognition that week.
Of course, building a remote team can have some challenges, but with the right steps in place, your team will be working successfully in no time.