- On May 8, 2018
- humanresources, productivity, remote, remotework
Managing remote teams requires companies to be creative and open-minded. A well-thought strategy includes keeping up with the latest trends.
Working from home is no longer the most appealing job modality since the trend is working remotely from anywhere in the world. Why would you want to work from home when you have the chance to travel, live, and work in different locations throughout the year? Employers are no longer thinking about hiring the best talents of the country. Instead, they want to attract the world’s highest qualified people, which also contributes to their corporate culture.
The trend is to dream big, and companies need to pay particular attention to this. Because ambitious plans require hard work, we want to introduce you the best practices to manage the most productive remote team.
Remote work can benefit your company beyond costs reduction
Do you want the planet’s best talents to help you grow your business? Remote work helps keep employees happy by improving their quality of life, as well as yours. People who work from wherever they want have higher chances of avoiding burnout and have more opportunities to spend time with their family and friends.
Location-independent employers not only have the privilege to dedicate time to their loved ones but also get to reduce expenses associated with the maintenance of workspaces. Because remote workers and companies save valuable resources such as time, office-ready clothes, transportation, and extra meals, they can invest more money and energy in activities that truly help them enjoy their lifestyle – e.g. traveling, exercising, and engaging in social activities.
Flexible jobs allow remote team members to design an entirely customized schedule that includes appointments and meetings that are not related to work but are still part of their daily lives. They have the benefit of staying comfortable and healthy as they manage their own time.
Stuart Jones, the founder of ‘Coworkation,’ told Forbes that location-independent workers could create unique lifestyles that allow them to enjoy their passions. However, Jones, who has worked remotely for the past 15 years, noted that the ideal work-life balance could only be achieved if people are flexible enough to adapt to the always-changing circumstances. In spite of the challenges that may come with this lifestyle, the freedom granted by remote work should serve as a fuel to design and live an extraordinary life.
In addition to the various benefits related to a better quality of life, remote work helps people shield themselves from an unstable local economy. For instance, those who love the countryside or small villages can have access to jobs that help them grow as professionals without having to leave the area due to high unemployment rates or the lack of attractive job opportunities.
…And there’s the case of the Venezuelans. Remote work allows highly-educated professionals to avoid wasting their skills and talent in local companies that are only able to offer low salaries. People who live in low-income countries such as Venezuela, where the minimum monthly wage is less than $7 at current exchange rates, have the chance to escape their local economy through remote work.
Starting a business and engaging in volunteer work or academic programs are other possibilities when you are working remotely. Being able to join such projects helps the location-independent worker to grow as a professional but also as an individual.
Let’s get started: How to develop an effective remote work strategy
The advantages of working with remote teams are countless, as long as you set up a truly effective policy and design the right recruitment process. Good workers or freelancers are awarded freedom for showing commitment and productivity, meaning that they know anarchy will not take them anywhere.
When you start hiring people, make sure you let them know that your company needs a team that can be reached through their computers or mobile devices, gadgets that should be essential in the candidates’ daily working lives. After all, the technological equipment is what makes remote work possible.
All candidates should be asked about their digital habits. They should be willing and able to stay connected while they work for your company. Nevertheless, try not to sound too invasive and clarify that you will respect their non-working hours. Additionally, make sure you ask them about their time management skills.
Once they start working for you, inform them about your remote work rules to help them avoid burnout and improve their time management methods. The goal is to rely on a team that shows its full potential but also achieves a good work-life balance.
Although flexibility is one of the must-have features of remote work, set up a strong working policy according to your project’s specific needs and let your new team know that the rules are not optional. You need to execute control strategies, and they must stick to them.
As for the official work hours, they will depend on your project’s requirements, and you should inform your remote team what you expect from them. Do you need them always to be conference call-ready or is your project based on deliverables they can do on their own? For how long are they allowed to be absent before they complete their tasks? Write down your rules related to deadlines, deliverables, and the methods to report illnesses and other major incidents.
In case your team members all live in different time zones, define a working time zone that works for everyone if possible.
Determine the days you need a video conference with the whole team within the official time zone. These calls will enable them to remember they work with other people although they usually perform their tasks in isolation. Video conferences will give them the chance to feel that they count on each other and also to help them gradually get to know the other team members better.
Encourage the use of the webcam, so they can all be focused on the conversation and be present. Seeing each other’s faces allows body language comprehension, as well as better group cohesion. The only exception should be for those who live in countries where the internet connection is limited and worsens with the use of video.
Communicate efficiently with your remote team
Based on your project’s unique needs, think about how you want to interact with your remote unit and the relationships you want them to develop with each other. Then, choose the communication tools that best suit your project. Keep in mind that this process is about constant trial and error. Only practice and time will tell which tools are helping you to boost productivity and improve your internal communication strategy, and which resources are redundant.
When a new team member arrives, make sure to guide them through the use of each tool so they can quickly join the group dynamic. Don’t take their digital skills for granted or assume that they’ll be able to figure it all out by themselves.
We recommend using Slack, Trello, Google Hangouts, and Google Docs.
- Slack is an instant communication app to stay in touch with your team and create channels for specific areas or departments you want to cover. It can help you keep track of projects by giving team members the chance to provide ‘live’ reports of their work process.
- Google Hangouts allows video conferences with several users simultaneously. Plus, anyone that owns a Google Account can access the app. It is straightforward to use, which means that you won’t have to invest time on induction.
- Get your remote team to always create documents on an online cloud. This practice will boost productivity by centralizing materials and making them accessible to the team members of your choosing. We recommend using Google Docs as it is a complete platform that allows us to review the work collaboratively. Team members can see other people’s edits and comments on ‘real-time’, keeping them focused on the common goal.
- Speaking of a common purpose, we recommend Trello because it helps manage tasks and delegate work. This productivity tool shows admins and team members the ‘big picture.’ It enables calendars to set due dates, commenting on feedback, assigning specific tasks to individual team members, and keep track on how the project(s) is advancing.
The key benefit of these tools lies in the fact that they are all collaborative and can be used by several users simultaneously. Not only do they improve the task management process, but they also allow project managers to organize and delegate.
For instance, when a website copy is done on Google Docs, the stakeholders can attach the document link to the matching Trello card to let their supervisor know where to find the file. A quick Slack message can lead to the card to make things easier and more efficiently. In case something is not clear, a video call may be scheduled using Hangouts to ask the stakeholder to share their screen so they can better explain what they have done.
Just make sure that all the information is in duplicate!
Establish security rules
Security is another aspect to be considered when setting up your remote work policy, as well as data protection. Make an effort to protect your company and your team at the same time. In consequence, the most fundamental question is whether your employees or freelancers have the same password for all of their online accounts.
It’s okay if your team members want to take the risk with their personal accounts, but do make it a rule that they use a different password for each one of the online tools related to your company’s work.
Because each password should be unique, try to use a passphrase instead of just a password for the accounts you create for them – Slack, WordPress, Wix…–. Be creative and focus on data protection. You could, for instance, ask your employers or freelancers about their favorite artist and their favorite ice cream flavor. That will be their passphrase. You’ll get exciting combinations such as ShakiraChocolate, JohnnyDeppCoconut, MichelangeloStrawberry. Easy to remember for them, hard to guess for hackers and bots.
The members of your remote team who have access to core business systems or to your website editing tools should not ever be allowed to use unsecured Wi-Fi connections. In fact, everyone in your remote team should be encouraged to avoid free wireless hotspots and always use secure internet connections.
What to avoid
Fear of asking for help: Do your best to encourage a collaborative culture in your remote team. Avoid situations that make them feel uncomfortable or embarrassed by asking for help. Let them know you are there for them but also delegate your load to others based on their skills and expertise. These lucky guys should not only be empowered to make your company stand out, but they should also be willing and able to answer questions from other team members and help them to overcome any challenges.
Lack of communication during working days: Even though your employees and freelancers naturally enjoy the freedom that comes with working remotely, do not accept isolation or long unjustified absences – it could hinder your progress and also disrupt the team’s dynamics.
Fear of giving feedback about the remote work dynamic or the work itself: Encourage your team members to say what they think, as long as they offer valuable suggestions to make improvements.
You can always make adjustments and try out new methodologies according to your own circumstances and goals. You may have a mixed team with some members working remotely and others at an office, or maybe they all are remote workers who attend your office once a week. Whatever your case, make significant efforts to make them feel included and be certain everyone meets everyone so that they know where to find support when they need it.
Remote work trends for 2018
Remote work is here to stay, and it will experience changes based on the needs of the companies, employees, and freelancers. In a Forbes article, Tomas Laurinavicius collected predictions from several leaders of companies that rely on remote teams.
Dave Nevogt, the co-founder of Hubstaff, affirms that in 2018 more companies will start looking for the world’s best talent as technology makes communications easier.
He predicts that the number of highly-qualified professionals all over the world leaving conventional offices will increase due to the opportunities offered by the freelance dynamic, which allows people to charge higher rates, work for several clients instead of just one employer, and design their own schedule.
Nevogt manages a remote team of 30 employees who work on automatic time tracking and activity tracking tools for virtual teams.
As for remote workers who love to travel, the co-founder of WiFi Tribe believes that a large number of hostels will adapt to these trends to attract the segment of people who work from anywhere in the world, not from home. According to the Forbes article, Diego Bejarano Gerke said more and more hostels would make significant efforts to design spaces for remote working backpackers. He added that the Selina website is taking the lead in Central and South America, with plans of expansion as it acquires new properties.
Even Airbnb has shown interest in the segment of location-independent workers by highlighting houses that offer ideal spaces for remote work. Bejarano Gerke, whose WiFi Tribe is a community of professionals who travel the world together and work from anywhere, expects more initiatives like these.
Martin Studencan, an entrepreneur, and a remote worker believes that coffee shops and pubs will also join the trend by offering more co-working spaces or more comfortable areas to finish pending work miles away from the boss or the client.
Are you ready to get the best out of your remote team? Let us know if you need further advice on this matter. If you want to share your experience, feel free to leave a comment! We’d love to hear from you.