It seems hard to believe that by 2020, (a mere 3 years away!) 50 percent of employees could work from a location other than their organization’s main office. However, that is exactly what a survey of business leaders has predicted.
When you think about it, working remotely has been creeping up on many of us for awhile now – (checking work emails or logging into any number of work-related sites on the weekend). But the increase in remote work is due to a variety of factors, from the way technology has evolved, potential savings of having some remote workers, to simply a change in management style.
Organizations that offer remote work opportunities get a much larger pool of potential employees, ones outside of their area. They can also keep valuable employees who must move for any number of reasons. For many employees, work/life balance is a chief concern — even more than money.
While the adoption of a remote work proves beneficial for many organizations, adapting to managing a remote team has its challenges too. The question is, how do you setup a remote team, and how do you make it a success? Here are some guidelines that’ll help your organizations create and maintain remote team success.
Assemble the right team
Not everyone can work remotely successfully, but you can help increase the odds of a dynamic remote team by knowing what traits to look for. Here are the characteristics to look for when hiring a remote worker, or deciding which team members could be successful at it.
They’re Doers. They like to work and they’re self-motivated. They’re the kind of person who is always looking for the next thing to do without being directed. They seem to have that extra energy it takes to find their own solutions.
They’re trustworthy. You won’t get very far working remotely with people you can’t trust. Hire people you can trust, who have proven to be reliable and consistent. Remember that you also have to be able and willing to put your trust in your team.
They’re good communicators. In a remote situation, you won’t get the face-to-face interaction, so the majority of communication will be written. Good written communication skills are one of the most important traits of a remote worker, so check that they can express their needs and give instructions clearly.
Create a virtual office
If you’re new to managing a remote team, it’s time to get acquainted with some of the tools that will make it a lot easier. There is now everything you need for assigning tasks, communicating with team members quickly, clocking time, and more. Though new programs are popping up all the time, here are some that are currently making the biggest difference for remote teams.
- Google docs
- Figureitout Chrome Extension
If you love to work, Slack could easily turn into your digital home, or at least your digital office. Huge companies such as Airbnb, IBM, and others use slack as their main hub of communication. Keep everyone on the same page, kick off projects, chat, and streamline your workflow remotely.
Google docs makes it easy to share spreadsheets, contracts, edit documents, and many other tasks with everyone. Share spreadsheets for ad hoc analysis of key metrics.
Asana is another great tool for assigning tasks, managing your team’s projects, and track their work. Asana pretty much covers everything you can think of regarding project management, including due dates, priority settings, and communication between team members.
This one is super handy if your remote workers are spread out across multiple time zones. Skip adding or subtracting hours in your head or making wild guesses and quickly view the extension to know the current time for all your remote team members. Makes scheduling meetings a heck of a lot easier.
Helpscout is your point of contact with customers -use it as a help desk or a shared email inbox. Any team members you add to your help desk will be able to respond to customers, assign customer requests to each other, and communicate internally with notes.
We could probably write a whole article on the tools that now exist for remote workers (checkout Toggle, Trello, Basecamp and Hipchat) but those are some of the big ones.
Create processes for everything
Instead of thinking of processes as an inflexible system for doing every task, they should be thought of more as a valuable reference and resource, especially for training new remote team members.
Some tasks involve multiple steps, or there might be specific information or priorities for certain jobs and/or clients. If you have your process for each task written out and easily accessible for your team members, it gives them something to reference as needed or use as a training tool.
Use the buddy system
To prevent your remote workers from feeling like they’re on an island, create close-knit teams or duos when there’s an opportunity for it. Camaraderie, trust, and just having someone to rely on or defer to (aside from the boss/manager) is extremely helpful, both for business owners as well as team members.
Enforce some kind of schedule
One of the perks of working remotely is some flexibility in work hours, but everyone has their own opinion of when their “ideal” work hours are. A part of your remote work policy should be establishing a schedule and communication procedure ahead of time so that everyone knows what is expected of them. Though your policy will depend on the needs of your organization, consistent communication is crucial to your remote work program, even if not all work is urgent or needs to perform at an exact time of day.
Hopefully, now you have a better idea how to create a successful remote team. There are a lot of tools at your disposal, so feel free to experiment – it might lead you to discover something groundbreaking.