Building a remote team can be an intimidating prospect. You may find yourself asking questions such as “How will I manage people who aren’t physically in the office?” or “Is it possible to create a successful and productive remote workforce?”. The truth is, with the right combination of technology, processes, and management strategies, developing a distributed team could bring great benefits to your organisation.
Whether you’re looking for more flexibility or broader access to talent pools beyond your local geographic area, creating and managing a virtual team can help give your business greater agility and improved outcomes if done correctly. In this article, we’ll explore why building an effective remote team could benefit your business, as well as how to manage one.
What is a remote team?
A remote team is a group of individuals who work together from separate locations – this could be working from home, in a cafe, co-working space or even travelling around as a digital nomad. This type of collaboration allows people to work together on any project, either out of preference or when face-to-face contact is not feasible. With the right tools and technology, teams are able to collaborate on projects and reach their deliverables efficiently despite physical separation.
Some companies who allow remote working also operate flexible working, meaning that employees have some choice over what hours they work. However, this is not guaranteed in a remote role.
Advantages of having a remote team
For many businesses, having an office in one location isn’t always possible or practical. With remote teams, you can hire people from anywhere in the world and expand your reach. This can be especially advantageous when it comes to recruiting top talent – you don’t have to limit yourself to local candidates; instead, you can tap into the global market for the best fit for your team. Additionally, remote teams are often more productive as they have greater flexibility in terms of when and where they work.
Hiring remote teams eliminates many of the operational costs associated with running an office such as rent, utilities, and furniture. In addition, by hiring remotely you avoid added expenses such as relocation packages or commuting costs for your employees. You also save time on onboarding since most of the process can happen online rather than face-to-face.
Often, one of the biggest challenges that comes with working remotely is communication – but it doesn’t have to be. There are plenty of tools available now such as video conferencing software and project management apps that make it easy to stay connected with your remote team members no matter where they are located.
Challenges of a remote team
One of the biggest issues with remote working is communication breakdowns between team members. Without face-to-face interactions, it can be difficult to stay on top of tasks, give feedback, or even just keep up with general day-to-day work conversations.
To combat this issue, it’s important to establish clear communication protocols with your team. Set up regular check-ins over video chat or phone calls so that everyone can stay connected and on task. Additionally, make sure everyone is aware of any changes in expectations or deadlines so that no one gets left behind.
Time management struggles
Another common challenge when working remotely is time management struggles due to distractions from home life or other responsibilities outside of work. It can be easy to get distracted when you’re not in an office setting – the temptation to watch a quick bit of TV or do laundry is ever present.
To help keep your team focused, learn what motivates them – is it the feeling of getting a certain number of tasks done, contacting a certain number of customers, or getting good reviews? Building more of what they enjoy into their days will help motivate everyone to stay on track.
Finally, feeling isolated from your colleagues can be one of the most difficult hurdles when it comes to remote working. Human interaction is key for overall well-being, especially if you don’t have any friends or family nearby who you can talk to regularly about work matters.
To combat this issue, try organising regular virtual social events for your team members to engage with each other on a personal level without having to leave their homes. This will help create a sense of community among your workers even when they are miles apart.
Tips for hiring the right remote workers
Finding the right remote worker can be a daunting task as there is not always the luxury of an on-site interview and many times you have to rely solely on virtual applications and resumes. To get started, begin by defining a set of criteria for the position and develop a list of qualities you want in your ideal remote worker. Sticking to these criteria will help to ensure that each applicant is held to the same high standard.
Then, create an informative job description that clearly outlines the expected duties, qualifications, and desired skills so that potential applicants know exactly what they are signing up for. Ask each candidate specific questions around remote working in their interviews, and hire someone who is dependable and proactive in their communication, and displays a willingness to take initiative.
How to manage and motivate your remote team effectively
Managing and motivating a remote team has the potential to be incredibly rewarding, but at times it can be challenging, and a new skill for managers. The key is providing your team members with the right environment, resources, support and communication. Remember, not everyone works in the same way, so approach remote working with an open mind.
Start by setting clear expectations around responsibilities, workloads and deadlines, ensuring that everyone knows what needs to be achieved each day or week. You should also prioritise regular check-ins via video conferencing or phone calls, allowing team members to provide feedback on their progress as well as any issues they may have encountered.
As well as finding out what’s not going so well, it’s important to take the time to thank your people for doing a good job too. Whether it’s a personal note or digital bonus, it shows your remote staff that their efforts are valued.
Hiring a remote team can allow your company to expand and harness new talent, without geographical restrictions. However, part of creating a successful remote team is understanding the challenges that you may face and putting in solutions to help you tackle these issues.
This post was supplied to HRTech247.com by Kayleigh Clark. Kayleigh has been a management consultant for over 10 years. Recently, she has pivoted to focusing on helping companies build successful remote teams.