A remote team could be the best thing for your small business if you want to save costs and boost productivity. You also get to hire the best experts and raise your professional ceiling. That’s because you’ll be recruiting from a global talent pool. But employers are not the sole beneficiaries of remote work. Telecommuting also benefits employees: they get to avoid the stress of the office commute and work flexible hours. This style of work makes them happy and improves work satisfaction.
However, forming an incredible remote team is only one part of the equation. You need the right management tools to knit everything and everyone together. Despite its undeniable perks, the work-from-home framework isn’t free from cons. You must account for some downsides and avoid them by using the best management practices.
Read on for practical steps to create a successful remote team.
Create a Remote Team Structure
Your team’s structure determines how it runs. So, you must create one before you start the recruitment process or transition your in-house to the WFH environment.
You have to answer questions such as:
- Will the entire team be remote?
- Do you want a team that can get together from time to time?
- How much of a barrier does location pose?
- How many remote employees do you need?
You must also define the positions you need to recruit for and map out the team’s hierarchy.
For example, what kind of professionals should you look for if you’re hiring remote marketers? Do you need a search engine optimizer expert to increase your blog’s search ranking? Or are you prioritizing pay-per-click professionals?
Recruit the Right Professionals
The next piece of the puzzle is hiring suitable experts for your created structure. But remote work recruitment is a different ball game from hiring in-office employees. You have to consider that you may not be conducting in-person interviews and your candidates may be scattered across different continents. During the evaluation process, you must ensure that each applicant has a track record of working remotely. This way, you’re more confident they can keep up with virtual communication and meet deadlines. You should also assess their level of self-motivation to confirm if they can withstand the stress of remote work.
Other things to keep in mind:
- If you’re hiring freelancers, check their work history
- Work within your budget
- Choose workers that embody your company’s culture
Set Clear Expectations and Company Policies
You must set well-defined expectations if you want your remote workers to do excellent work. Telling a UX designer you want a more responsive website isn’t enough. You must let them know the specific results you expect. For example, if you’re running an eCommerce website, you must apply best UX practices to boost your digital sales funnel. So how do you set expectations?
- Use milestones to break down a project’s journey.
- Use measurable objectives.
You should also review and refine your company’s policies to best fit the terrain of remote work. Adjust objectives where needed so remote workers can focus on their jobs. There’s no need to keep instructions made redundant by the transition. Don’t saddle people with work they cannot do from a virtual space.
Some critical policy review tips to follow:
- A one-time update is insufficient; schedule ongoing evaluations and change adjustments instead.
- When implementing changes, communication is vital.
- When feasible, involve employees in policy revisions.
Establish a Company Culture Early
Company Culture is a focal axis through which the organization revolves. For remote companies, it takes on added importance. A strong culture can be a significant unifier and substitute for the physical office space. Employees who have internalized the company’s culture are more focused and goal-oriented. Let prospective remote employees know what the company expects and reiterate this during the onboarding process. Use regular reminders and incentives to foster a strong work culture among workers in different locations.
Teamwork is an essential part of business culture. Yet, as employees transition to virtual spaces, the separation can make them less dependent on their coworkers. You can use the following methods to foster a sense of closeness among your remote workers and build a culture— onboarding summits, video meet and greets, and monthly business reviews with the whole team can bring back the office vibe.
Inadequate communication limits the performance of any organization and is magnified when working with remote staff. Your communication must be excellent and consistent, not just adequate. Proper communication ensures information and updates flow readily through the right channels and to the right people. Maintaining clear lines of virtual interaction promotes trust and raises morale among your remote workers.
You can require everyone to use an app like Microsoft Teams or Slack to harmonize work-based correspondence. Adopting one platform for all internal communications will ensure seamless interaction and speed up workflow. Any tool you use will play a significant part in facilitating communication, but it won’t be substantial unless each individual focuses on being a good communicator.
You should also:
- Communicate more often than you would in an office situation.
- Rep “water cooler” time by asking how someone’s day is before digging into the pressing subject.
- If available, use video calls to provide a more personal touch.
- Organize regular meetings to remind workers they’re part of a team.
- Encourage workers to reach out to colleagues.
Create a Positive Workplace
Employees require time to adjust to working from home. Each person will have a unique road to acclimatization, especially those who have never worked outside the office. Setting expectations is crucial, just like you would in the workplace. Team members feel more secure if there is clarity at every step. They want to know when to be online, how to dress during a video conference, and which tools to use for what tasks.
Here are tips to help you build a positive and constructive workplace:
- Allow workers to adapt to the virtual environment at their own pace.
- Provide adequate training for virtual tools.
- Collect feedback to assess workers’ reception of your policies.
Promote Employee Health
Working remotely can make it harder to separate personal and work time successfully. Employees can carry their laptops to the bedroom and start working, blurring the line between private and work spaces.
Moreover, virtual work often means constant multitasking if the employee has a family. It also leads to unpredictable working hours, disturbing routines and triggering stress. In the long run, the flexibility gained by working from home can be eroded by the wear of needing to be available at all times.
Your objective is to ensure things don’t degrade to this level. Happy employees do better work, so keep them comfortable and stress-free.
Here are a few tips on how to foster a healthy work-life balance:
- Promoting wholesome habits is crucial.
- Set strict online work hours for everyone except dedicated teams or during an emergency.
- Encourage employees to take up a relaxing hobby or another activity to help them de-stress.
Lean on Your Champions for Working from Home
Learning from others who have already struggled is the best way to achieve success. Is anyone already working remotely for your company? Or have you hired a freelancer with vast, long-term remote work experience? Approach them to share their strategy with the team so others can make the transition faster. Each person can learn something different, from advice on communication to suggestions for keeping family members out of “the office.”
Prepare Your Management Team
One of the most challenging tasks of building a remote team is preparing supervisors and managers for future changes. Team members will be faced with unexpected situations while doing their jobs; they will need proper guidance and support. Make sure your leaders understand how to be flexible and respond to staff members when there is an issue.
Managers and supervisors will be under a lot of pressure to help their teams survive day-to-day operations. This can have an impact on their mental and physical health, as well as their ability to work productively.
Consider the best ways to support your leadership team, as well.
Technology is essential in managing a remote team. It is impossible to sustain virtual workspaces without it. There are different tools designed with remote teams in mind, from employee monitoring programs to project management platforms.
Employee monitoring software is used to keep track of employees in the company. These software programs, also called time trackers, enable organizations to monitor their employees’ behavior while at work. The data you retrieve from these tools allows you to manage workload and boost productivity efficiently. You also get to reduce, if not eliminate, paycheck inconsistencies. That’s because time trackers calculate billable hours and create timesheets accurately.
On the other hand, project management tools make it easy to assign jobs and track work progress. They also help you streamline your workflow and measure each remote employee’s productivity.
Fighting the urge to check on your remote workers every second might be a tough challenge. But micromanagement kills creativity and fosters a toxic workplace. You must offer your workers a healthy dose of autonomy if they’re going to excel. So, ensure you stick to non-invasive check-ins and use their work results to measure their performance.
Keep Improving Your Remote Team
Bringing a first-rate group of professionals together is the beginning of your journey. You must employ the best management practices outlined in this article to optimize your team’s performance. Continue to collect feedback from your workers about your policies. Find innovative ways to encourage team bonding and improve communication. And most importantly, keep up with your employees’ health to prevent overwork and burnout.
The opinions expressed here by Guest Contributors are their own, not those of Rise Marketing.