Twenty years ago, all the employees of a company had to work in the same offices at the same time. Today, businesses rely on remote individuals, often from different continents and time zones.
Of course, this strategy does require some degree of management to ensure that tasks are being completed on time and to a satisfactory standard. The following tips can help to make sure that remote working becomes a valuable benefit to both the company and their remote employees.
Difference Between On-site vs. Remote Team Management
Remote work makes economic sense. Staffing costs are not as expensive in certain regions. Businesses can take advantage of this to outsource certain tasks and projects overseas, helping reduce the upkeep of the company.
Productivity and work-life balance
Before the day ends, teams in one timezone can pass on their work to another team in a different timezone. This means that a business can have 24-hour work cycles while ensuring everyone gets the rest they need. For software or web development, this helps teams save valuable time while keeping morale high.
Culture and communication challenges
Remote teams will ultimately face challenges in communication and culture building. Since the remote workers may log on from their own home office, there isn’t the same sense of solidarity that may be found through face to face interaction. Slow internet connections or limited technology may also result in unclear communication between the two teams.
1. Ensure that Everyone Understands the Expectations
At the start of any project or task, give clear verbal and written instructions, while setting deadlines and checkpoints along the way. Ensure that your employees understand what is expected of them. In the initial phases of employment contact should be frequent. This does not mean micromanaging, but you need to be certain that your employees are completing the tasks to a satisfactory standard. Good software can be the key here, try using a project management tool such as Wrike.
2. Be Available and Encourage an Open Communication Policy
Consider some method of secure communication such as Skype, and encourage all managers to communicate regularly. If there is a query, it is important that the remote workers have the confidence to ask questions to clarify that question, rather than waste hours completing the task incorrectly.
3. Make an Effort to Get to Know Your Staff on an Individual Basis
If you employ staff in an office, there are office meals, parties, and other social events, which enable everyone to form a more personal relationship. This encourages teamwork and gives a sense of belonging to all members of the team. When you are hiring remote workers, this is likely not an option, so it is important to put additional effort into building a relationship. By showing an interest in their personal lives, you will build up a good working rapport, and increase the loyalty of the employee to the company. This will pay dividends many times over, and its value cannot be underestimated.
4. Make All of Your Employees Feel Like Part of the Team
It can be very difficult to fully embrace all of your team if 50 percent of them are halfway around the world. Do everything in your power to empower and embrace all members of your team. Little things such as asking for their opinion on a topic can go a long way towards making them feel valued and included. And it is entirely possible that they will have some excellent ideas that will benefit the project.
Want to learn more about finding the best candidates for your team? Read our previous blog post on recruiting top talent.
5. Make Use of Video Communication When Possible
While text and instant messages can be excellent communication tools, it is entirely possible to misinterpret a message in text form. Wherever possible embrace video technology such as Skype or Facebook Messenger to fully interact with and communicate with your staff. This way you will build rapport and, just as importantly, build a relationship with your staff.
6. Remember and Celebrate Birthdays
Just as you might celebrate a birthday in the office, log all of your employee’s birthdays in Outlook, or some other calendar software. Then you will automatically be reminded of team birthdays to celebrate. While this may seem a small thing, it will demonstrate to your staff that you are taking an interest in them and make them feel special. This, in turn, will ensure they feel valued and an important part of the team. It might only take a few minutes, but it can have a huge impact on your business.
Successful Companies with Remote Teams
Remote teams are nothing new. In fact, some of the world’s biggest brands were built with remote teams. Trello, the free project management tool, was built with a “remote first” mentality, meaning the team should always default to accommodate remote workers. You never want them to feel left out. Basecamp is famous for being one of the earliest remote teams back in 1999. Their reputation became so noteworthy that they even wrote the book, REMOTE: Office Not Required, an Amazon bestseller.
The most successful companies understand the key factors that go into growing a remote team. They see the challenges in communication and teamwork, but rise above through the offering of unique perks and incentives, just like Trello and Basecamp. If you want your digital nomads to work effectively, you need to learn to listen and act on their feedback.
Managing a team of workers remotely doesn’t have to be any more difficult than managing a local team. It may require utilizing different skills and make more effort to connect with the remote workers, but the benefits can far outweigh any minor issues. Provided you complete your due diligence and employ a great team of people, hiring remote workers can be a huge boon to your company.
Visit Novel Coworking today to learn how coworking spaces can provide a neutral ground for remote workers.