Having a successful remote team takes more than just hiring top-tier talent. In order to bring out the best in your remote workers, you’ll need to have certain policies and procedures in place. These eight employers share their tips for running a successful remote team. See how many of these practices your company already uses, and which ones you can implement to guarantee future success!
8 Employers Share the Key to Running a Successful Remote Team
Honesty is encouraged.
In order for workers to perform at their peak, they need to be honest about almost everything work related. That means letting their manager know if they’re having a problem with a coworker or feeling like their workload is overwhelming them. “We place a strong emphasis on transparency, authenticity and being direct,” says Kate Kendall, founder and CEO of CloudPeeps. “We do monthly one-on-one feedback sessions, which we call ‘pair calls’ where we run through challenges, positive feedback and constructive areas to improve. These are non-hierarchical where openness and honesty is encouraged.”
Have a hangout.
Sans an actual office, remote managers might find it useful to offer up a space for their workers to meet and hangout. “We use HipChat, [which] I think is the 10up office: there are social rooms, team rooms, private rooms (locked doors), project rooms…you can seamlessly go in and out and it integrates with many of our production tools (like Beanstalk and Basecamp),” says 10up Inc. president and founder, Jake Goldman. Having a virtual office space can not only help remote workers feel connected to their colleagues, but it also provides another means of communication for them.
Hold regularly scheduled meetings.
Even if your company allows workers to have completely flexible schedules, there are going to still be times when meetings are a must. For those occasions, Sara Tiffany, VP of product at AirTreks, suggests having a more structured schedule. Says Tiffany: “Establishing and sticking to a regular meeting rhythm is the most important thing. Meetings should have an agenda and start and end on time.”
Communication is key.
The vast majority of respondents to the Remote.co survey cited communication as a top priority for remote companies. Attentiv’s founder and CEO, Daniel Russell, says, “Communication is key. We are all completely available to one another during our work hours, meaning we can connect via video conferencing or chat on the fly. This ensures we aren’t missing out on not being in an office together.” Strong communication means that your team will have a better chance of staying in sync, despite time zone issues or not being able to speak face-to-face.
Trust your workers.
In order for your workers to do well, you have to believe that they will. That means not assuming that they’re slacking simply because they’re working off-site—and out of sight. “We have a multitude of project management tools we use every day to ensure all projects are moving ahead and positively impacting the business’ overall goals,” Greenback Expat Tax Services co-founder Carrie McKeegan says. “But we do have to trust that the team members are doing their job each day, and they have to trust that as the owners, we are there to support them. It’s that mutual trust that allows us to be respectful of each other’s workloads, ideas and ways of approaching everyday tasks.” So let your remote workers do their job, and believe that they are…until you have proof that they might not be. “Ultimately job performance is measured on productivity, but if you can’t trust that your team is doing their job each day without you watching over them closely, no one will be successful,” says McKeegan.
Establish expectations early.
Knowing what is expected of them can help any worker excel in his position, but especially so for a remote worker. “Training a remote worker is different than training an in-house worker; it is doubly important to be clear about what is expected of them and to ensure that the processes and policies have been defined and all the necessary tools are accessible,” says Sara Pegg, director of operations at Scribendi. “You need to be available to answer questions and provide constructive feedback.” Be sure to establish clear guidelines about the remote worker’s role and how his position plays into the overall success of your remote company. That can help give him not only a better understanding of his job, but a bigger picture perspective of why his position is so important.”
Create a culture.
Without an office to go to everyday or colleagues to gather (and gossip) in the company’s kitchen, remote workers may start to feel slightly disconnected from the organization. “Culture matters first and foremost. The organization needs to have a shared and well-communicated clear vision, values, and stated goals,” Simple [A] founder, Cruce Saunders, states. “Organizations need systems in which teams can communicate and work effectively, signal issues and problems, facilitate creativity, and celebrate success.” Make sure that your remote workers get to experience company culture by offering various collaboration and communication tools so they can stay connected. Highlight the company’s humanitarian efforts and encourage team members to get together, either locally or via company-sponsored retreats.
Encourage an entrepreneurial spirit.
Remote workers need to be self-starters and self-motivated, even when their boss is located halfway across the country. That’s why hiring people who are entrepreneurs—or who possess an entrepreneurial flair for business—can be helpful. “We have a disproportionate share of employees who have been founders and entrepreneurs themselves in the past. This is the kind of independent thinking, self-motivation and problem solving mindset you need if you don’t have team members there to drive and guide you in the same room every single day,” says Sten Tamkivi, co-founder and CEO of Teleport. Empower your remote workers to feel as if they are more than just workers, but are also valued owners in your business. That sense of validation can encourage the birth of new ideas, increased productivity, and loyalty to the company.
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