Working remotely is becoming increasingly commonplace in many countries around the world.
Whether individuals work in a flexible environment that allows them to spend part of the week outside the office or even work entirely from home, the increased flexibility offered by today’s tech-powered environment has created new opportunities for employers and employees alike.
The rise of remote teams has proven especially beneficial for startups.
Not only does a remote team reduce overhead expenses, it can also result in increased job satisfaction and productivity and even give employers the opportunity to hire talented individuals who wouldn’t be available for an in-office job because of where they live.
Of course, some startup founders are reluctant to attempt utilizing a remote team, as there are certainly challenges and obstacles to successful implementation. But a remote team is far from impossible …
Here’s how you can make one work for your startup:
1) Share ‘the vision’ with everybody
Finding qualified remote employees is one thing. But how do you get them to buy into your startup’s vision and company culture when they aren’t working side-by-side with you in the office?
While holding meetings can be a challenge when your team is spread across different time zones, such efforts are essential for getting to know your staff and effectively communicate your brand vision and goals.
The company’s goals should be reflected in each piece of communication you send to your remote employees, whether that be in an email or a face-to-face video chat.
If you have the budget for it, you could even pay to have these specialists come to your main office a few times during the year, or have them attend business events in their area as an official representative of your company. Such actions encourage greater buy-in as employees recognize just how vital they are to your long-term goals.
2) Build your team with the right tools
Many startup founders are understandably wary about going all-in with a remote team when they’ve never managed this type of work environment before. Thankfully, you’re not alone in this process, as there are plenty of tools specifically designed to make it easier to develop a quality team.
Not sure where you’re going to find a quality remote team?
There are services out there, like YouTeam and others, that offer a platform for finding qualified remote workers and teams using a series of vetting mechanisms and a network of qualified international partners. Furthermore, these platforms are a safe way to be introduced to remote team hiring and management practices, thanks to flexible terms of engagement and lower ongoing costs. In my experience, they’re also easy to work with, so search for a platform that can help you and fits your company.
Uncertain how you’ll manage communication?
Tools like Slack and Trello make it easy to coordinate projects, organize discussions and share files so everyone is on the same page. Best of all, such tools can be easily accessed from a standard web browser, allowing for quick implementation.
3) Create a clear-cut culture for your company
Sharing your startup’s vision and goals is key to establishing your culture.
But all too often, remote workers feel isolated from their coworkers, even when they’re somewhat involved in digital business discussions. Communication issues can cause a remote employee to feel undervalued or that their contributions don’t actually matter.
A study by the Harvard Business Review found that consistent communication from management is vital in creating a healthy, positive culture, and is most effective when face time (including in-person and video chats) is prioritized.
Of particular note from the study:
“The most successful managers are good listeners, communicate trust and respect, inquire about workload and progress without micromanaging, and err on the side of over-communicating, all while modeling the same behaviors for others on the team … successful managers are available during remote employees’ working hours, no matter their time zone.”
Building relationships through more casual online meetings and chats is a great way to strengthen your team. Get to know your remote team on a personal level, and be open to their concerns.
Try to plan weekly or monthly face-to-face meetings where you can coach workers and gain insight regarding their successes and challenges. With consistent communication, everyone feels valued.
4) Above most (not all) things, prioritize accountability
Accountability is a common concern when managing a remote team.
From tracking employee hours to ensuring that projects are completed on time, there are many accountability pitfalls that could derail your efforts, even when you set clear expectations before on-boarding.
Not surprisingly, digital management tools can, once again, greatly reduce your burden.
Time-tracking tools are a great way to ensure that employees are providing an honest day’s work, with many programs even taking screenshots so you know what your staff was doing during working hours. This can also make it easier to manage payroll when paying dedicated remote specialists for hourly projects.
Of course, clear communication of project deadlines will also be vital to ensure everything is completed properly. Many tools allow you to assign due dates for individual tasks or send reminders when a due date is approaching.
These simple steps can go a long way in ensuring everyone does their fair share.
Remote work can lead to big-time success
Just because your team is geographically distant doesn’t mean you won’t be able to get the quality results your startup needs. Indeed, for many businesses, dedicated remote specialists are a necessity in today’s business environment, leveling the playing field so you can build the best team possible.
By using these methods to effectively build and manage your remote team, you can achieve high-quality outcomes and reduce expenses to increase your likelihood of success.
This post is part of our contributor series. The views expressed are the author's own and not necessarily shared by TNW.