The Founder’s Guide to Building a Successful Remote Team: 6 Actionable Tips
Remote working = less stress and higher productivity. Here’s how to build a successful remote team, with the right tips and tools.
The emergence of virtual offices and the ability to work from home has led to two things:
A change in the attitudes around how and where people should work
Whether or not sticking to the traditional nine-to-five office hours influences higher productivity
The benefits of remote working are numerous, for the founder and the team members. Data from different studies show that 80% of the remote workforce feels less stress and millennials expect flexibility of working remotely. Remote working makes your staff more productive, efficient and healthy.
These statistics show how remote working has changed the way companies function:
- 83% of employees believe they don’t need an office to be productive. [Workforce Futures]
- 40% of global companies are hybrid. [OwlLabs]
- The remote workforce has boosted by 140% in the last 14 years. [Google Workplace Analytics]
- 70% of professionals in the world work remotely. [IWG]
Building a remote team gives you the option of tapping into the global workforce. On the flip side, managing such a decentralized team can be challenging. If you are looking to build a great remote team and enjoy the perks that accompany it, implement these 6 tips. These actionable strategies come from my experience of working with and managing a distributed workforce.
Hire the right people, manage them well
1. Ask the right interview questions to gauge the perfect fit
The qualities you would look for when hiring for a remote position are equivalent to the ones you would ask for an on-site job. That being said, a few qualities will help you filter a successful remote employee. The must-have skills include – strong writing skills, discipline, ability to collaborate with the team, and independently solve problems.
The right questions can help you gauge if the employee is capable of getting the work done without micromanaging. They are:
“What is your previous remote working experience?” This is an indicator of the candidate’s remote working suitability.
“How do you manage conflicts?” Managing conflicts with coworkers is critical when working remotely. Their answer gives you a peek into their personality and their way of working with the team.
“How do you stick to the deadlines?” How a candidate sticks to a schedule shows their problem-solving skills and their commitment to staying on track.
“What are your work hours?” Know if they’re an early bird, a night owl or in between. Are there any conflicts around scheduling their personal and professional life?
2. Set a communication process
Communication is all the more imperative when you are not working face-to-face. When in an office where the team is physically present, you can notice if anyone is withdrawn, stressed or unable to focus on work.
In a remote team, in the absence of strong communication, you will end up missing the context. A few helpful tips, based on my experience are:
Processes are all the more necessary to sustain communication when the staff is in different time zones. Set the expectations clear and form frameworks – about the protocols and medium on which you would want the remote worker to be accessible.
Often, remote team members are not informed of these processes at the time of the interview. It is possible they may not be comfortable with the rules set by you.
Explain the communication processes to the candidates during the interview itself. The reason being they should know that you are looking for professionals who are dedicated and serious about the job – just as you are about running your company.
Put across your point clearly, which is where strong written skills come to help. As a leader, be empathetic and understanding.
Give your members the liberty to convey when they face downtime. Set up guidelines, to let others know that they/you require uninterrupted time to focus on a task. Encourage being upfront with each other.
What I’ve learned is that there is no single right or wrong way of handling communications a remote team. Each company does it differently. Experiment with different processes until you find what works best for you and your team.
The gist being, give your staff all the information they would need to work with you, in the best way they can.
Inculcate a collaborative work culture
3. Be respectful of the time zone differences
Depending upon where you and your remote teams live, the time zone difference could be anywhere between half an hour to several hours. Keep that in mind while allocating tasks so that your team doesn’t work either too early or too late.
For example, if two of your remote employees are four hours behind, you can reach out to them at 2 PM your time, so that they are available to chat with you at 10 AM their time. Remote working is extremely fruitful when everyone’s willing to adjust. Be ready to accept a time shift and stay flexible to manage meetings that might be a bit late or early.
4. Set up check-in times
Schedule a mutually agreed-upon time each day to check-in with each remote employee. This is an excellent opportunity to evaluate the work they have done the previous day and address any questions they may have.
Besides, schedule a face-to-face call with your remote team on a bi-weekly or monthly basis. If they live in a different city or a country, have a video call periodically to get to know them better. If you have a budget, organize bi-yearly or quarterly company retreats for the team members to get to know each other.
You can schedule a Skype date where each of you grabs a coffee and connect virtually. Focus and invest in employee engagement to ensure that the team members do not feel isolated.
5. Avoid micromanaging – let each own their project/task
When a team works remotely, in different time zones, each member has to own their project. One can’t afford to wait for the manager to tell them what to do next. Imagine if the time difference is 8-10 hours, all the time that would be wasted in coordinating. This is the primary reason why you should onboard self-directed people. Find people who can build things from scratch and scale them. This frees up the team’s time and you have to manage less. Train your managers to trust people to do their stuff.
Break every project into parts such that everyone has specific areas to focus on. They own that task and in case of a problem that arises, it can be solved by syncing over an email or a call. Most founders find it tough to manage teams that have always worked from the office, when shifted to remote working schedules.
Dispersed teams are highly successful when you have a plan knowing how to get work done. Break the tasks into smaller chunks for everyone to work upon. Regularly catchup to share the progress and setbacks. This way, you realize that you don’t need micromanagement. Time gaps don’t matter.
6. Invest in the right tools for remote team management
Besides hiring driven and dedicated professionals that are happy to work independently, and incorporating a remote company culture that’s spot on, it is essential to implement tools to collaborate, communicate and reliably share ideas with ease and efficiency.
1. SmartTask – for project management
SmartTask is a project management tool apt for making your remote employees more productive and efficient at their job. The tool is built for collaboration and keeps all the team-related information together.
SmartTask gives a clear overview of the team’s activities and progress. You can see who is responsible for every task. Tracking the team has never been easier – irrespective of when and from where they work!
One of the most significant advantages of the tool is that it has a template for everything. From marketing and HR to accounts and projects – you can customize any template and achieve great results with it, remotely.
If you currently have a small team of 20 remote workers or less, you can use SmartTask for free and then grow from there.
2. SocialPilot – for social media scheduling and analytics
SocialPilot is a social media scheduling, curation and analytics tool that allows your remote team to reach all the social media platforms from a single account. Famously known as a Buffer alternative, this tool lets you post all your updates without worrying about running out of limits.
The tool has a robust, detailed analytics reporting for making data-driven decisions to improve engagement and finetune your social media strategy. You can read and reply to all messages, comments, and posts on the platforms in real-time, on a single dashboard.
It has an easy setup process and dedicated after-sales support. It covers Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram, Pinterest, and Google My Business.
3. BetterProposal – for sending online proposals
For any remote worker, coordinating with the designer for creating a business proposal could be time-consuming. Therefore, to eliminate this problem, your team could use proposal software, BetterProposals.
A proposal software, it is designed to make the tedious process as fast and easy as possible. The tool offers a library of 100 customizable SEO proposal templates from a range of industries. Adding colors and logos to the proposals is easy.
Your team can also give each website design proposal template a custom domain to make it look like it’s a part of the website. What’s more – your remote employees will get notified every time a proposal is opened, printed, forwarded, or signed.
Following up with potential clients has never been easier, even by remote workers.
4. Chanty – AI-powered team chat
Chanty is a simple AI-powered team chat. The platform provides remote teams to organize tasks, conversations, and pinned messages with a feature known as the Teambook.
As an entrepreneur, you can add notifications on everything happening on Chanty to keep track of progress made by the in-house and the remote team and automated tasks. Besides, make audio and video calls with the tool, thus bringing your remote team from across the globe to one hub.
5. Airfocus – smarter roadmap prioritization
Move away from those old-fashioned spreadsheets because Airfocus offers the most potent way for you and your remote team to prioritize the tasks and create effective product roadmaps. The tool’s algorithm calculates the priority level of each task and visually maps them out on a chart so that you can assign tasks to your team accordingly.
Airfocus’ drag-and-drop presentation-ready roadmaps are based on objective priorities that let your strategic vision come to life. The tool also has a library comprising of fully-adjustable product roadmap templates on proven road-mapping methods.
Airfocus can be integrated with multiple tools such as Monday.com, GitHub, Intercom, Yammer, and Salesforce, to name a few.
Ready to go remote?
Do you know companies that will work with remote workers in the future would decrease employee retention by 10%? Therefore, the sooner you start hiring your team, the better it will be for your business success.
There may be some challenges at first; as you adjust to your new role as an employer and work with team members you can’t see physically. Focus on the 6 points discussed above, to strengthen your professional relationship with your remote team.