Working from home or remotely is a reality that most businesses have to grapple with. It is also a means of differentiation when appealing to prospective talent and new hires.
The question for any business owner then becomes – how do I go about building an effective remote team?
Here are some things to consider when embarking on such endeavor:
1. Evaluate your current company culture
Is your culture currently structured in way that relies heavily on peer-to-peer interaction?
What is the nature of the projects you currently have?
Do they require a majority of on-site presence to run smoothly and effectively?
How could a creating a remote team potentially affect overall employee morale?
These are just a few questions to run thorough in assessing the viability of your business, and ensuring whether or not your current company culture is in a favorable position to accommodate the nuances of a remote team.
Undergoing such assessment is beneficial because, Business owners then realize that having such a team isn’t right for them - at that particular point in time of their business phase.
The honest truth is that not every business should have a remote team, and the earlier they arrive at that conclusion, the better for the owner, current and future employees.
2. Ensure the right communication tools are in place
As any CEO and/or CFO knows, effective communication amongst employees and between departments is a crucial element to the success and survival of any business.
If after assessing that your business indeed has the bandwidth and resources in place to accommodate a remote team, the next thing to do is to have the right tools and infrastructure in place to guarantee seamless communication between the manager and his remote team for instance.
Investing in resources like Slack, P2, Google Docs, or any other service that affords painless two-way flow of information between yourself and members of the remote team cannot be overemphasized – it keeps the dialogue ongoing and continuous. This way you’re able to keep track of discussions, follow up on the progress of individual/group projects – and above all, nothing gets lost in transmission; there’s something to refer back to.
3. Assign people you trust
Another truth is that not every employee is right for or can handle the requirements of an off-site project - so assembling the right team with the correct temperament and ability is crucial.
This is where assigning doers – self-motivated employees who get things done with little or no direction is of capital importance. As a Manager you don’t want to have to worry about the state of the project; whether or not it will get done.
So, checking in with other fellow employees, Supervisors, HR Managers, and even an individual chat with prospective worker to get a sense of who they are is encouraged.
4. Empower by entrusting
In addition to delegating doers to a remote project, you also have to empower this team by actually trusting them to get their work done. This might be harder said than done.
The last thing that doers need is to be micro-managed; a tendency for Managers who fear that a ball will be dropped or the occurrence of project scope creep.
A major way to inspire this team is simply to trust that they will get the work done.
5. Book face-to-face meetings
In person meetings must co-exist as a part of the ecosystem for your virtual office.
One of the trappings of working with a remote team is the tendency to get so caught up in the weeds of the project that you forget that you’re dealing with actual people.
Setting up these one-on-one meetings as frequently as you can (at least once a month for instance) is immensely beneficial for Managers, so they don’t lose sight of the needs of their subordinates, and find better ways to keep them motivated and productive.
6. Make the team accountable
An effective way of assuaging your fears and ensuring that the work actually gets done is by making your team accountable. This is where weekly status updates with the said team to review the clearly set goals (defined prior to the start of the project) becomes essential.
Hopefully these six pointers give you a solid head start to building a resounding remote team. So, find out what works, improve upon these suggestions and you should be in a strategically sound place.
Written by Ross Fastuca @Locomote