Managing teams is one of the necessities that comes with a successful business. As you develop and expand you will need to work with a wider range of people and utilize the best of their skills. Whether you are an entrepreneur growing your business, or a team lead at an established business, remote teams are a popular way of ensuring you have the right talent and skill without needing to expand your office space and invest in areas which may not be necessary for the best results for your business.
Some businesses operate with a fully remote team while others choose to find remote employees for specific tasks within their firm. In any instance, it can be a great way of growing your business, as long as you have the right practices in place.
Remote working can be great for your business because it affords you a wider recruitment talent pool, and also access to a wider audience. With a remote team, you may be able to offer wider operating hours and respond more effectively to customer queries.
With 5.5 billion Google searches performed every single day around the world, your business can be easily accessible at any hour with the right team and, if you are looking to expand globally, you have a stronger talent pool from which to work that can help you to competently work over different time zones.
For remote working to be a real boon for your business, you will need to put the right processes and structures in place to get it right. In this article, we’re looking at four key areas to keep in mind when working with remote employees is part of your larger business strategy.
Trust is absolutely key when you work with a remote team. You cannot function properly if you’re not able to keep in regular contact with your team, so a strong communication system is essential for this kind of setup to be a success. Whether you schedule regular calls, use apps for video meetups or meet in person on set dates, any scheduled team meetings must be treated as seriously as if it was an in-house team.
Your mindset also plays a key role in how you approach your remote employees. If you opt to consider them as “local” rather than “remote” then you’ll soon see your virtual team in a new light and it’ll perhaps improve the general level of trust and strength in the relationship.
Another essential part of ensuring a strong working relationship with your remote team is setting clear parameters from the start. While you don’t want to seem overbearing and draconian, setting boundaries is essential for ensuring you get the results you want. Your team should have set deliverables, and they should be manageable and in line with what you’d expect from on-site employees.
Security should be a core concern for all business owners but it becomes even more important when you require employees working remotely to access company networks and data. Tim Bandos, Vice President of Cybersecurity at Digital Guardian says: “Any connections made to the company should be performed through a VPN (Virtual Private Network) which either leverages SSL (Secure Sockets Layer) or IPsec (Internet Protocol Security) to encrypt communications from the remote teleworker’s machine; depending on various requirements.” This helps to ensure the end user is protected and also your system.
Whether you supply equipment to your employees or they use or bring their own device wherever they are working, it has to be 100% secure. This means ensuring they have the right software in place to protect their hardware and you need to make sure they are fully trained and versed on how to deal with issues such as malware.
Therefore, online IT support should be a standard for your virtual team, whether they choose to work in their own homes or in public spaces. Fully protected hardware is the first step in ensuring a secure working environment for remote workers and adds to the trust between the employer and employee too.
Nurture Team Relationships
Your team may not feel like a team if you do not work to build a culture of teamship and ensure virtual employees feel just as much as part of the business as you do. The key ways of ensuring you build a team that works and performs, include:
If possible, arrange to have your remote employees meet or come into the office on occasion. Choose a central location if you employ local people or look to arrange meetups where different groups can come together in different areas. Many local areas have networking groups you could also jump into and gain some valuable additional leads for work as well as a way of bringing your team together.
Create an Employee Social Media Culture
Never underestimate the power of social. A strong and developed employee social media culture makes everyone feel welcome, including your virtual team. If this becomes a core part of your business, all employees can represent the brand virtually, wherever they may be.
Group Video Calls
Video drives engagement and used in the right way, it can help your employees feel much more part of the business. Multiple ways of supporting your team helps to ensure they feel fully connected and that they can come to you if they need to, despite not being in the same office space. Adding value to their employee experience really does matter.
Your employees will respond well to incentives so make sure you offer them. Celebrate your employees great work through things they can enjoy and are business-relevant. It could be vouchers for their local coffee shop, where they often find themselves working or other similar gifts for achieving milestones within the business.
Utilize Productivity Tools
Whether co-creating a new business proposal, working on a project that involves multiple team members, or doing research into your competitors, businesses and teams of any size can grind to a halt with emails being used to share various versions, updates and drafts that are all in multiple inboxes and hard-drives, and people can easily work off the wrong, older version in the confusion.
This is even more of a problem when you’re not necessarily in direct contact with remote workers and so it is even more important to make use of the many tools on the market, specifically designed to make work processes quicker, more effective and less likely to result in an error. Some of the most popular and useful productivity tools include:
Trello is usually described as a project management tool but it can be used in a wide range of different ways. It is a very visual choice of tool and can be used as a kind of diary, a way of actioning tasks, sharing out responsibilities or even as an editorial calendar.
Slack is the most popular communication tool used by businesses. It allows for quick instant messages in the place of long email chains and is a much more reactive option for teams who need quick responses or if you need to speak to a team publicly and collect their responses where everyone can see. It’s much easier and much less annoying than multiple emails.
Google Drive / Dropbox
Google Drive and Dropbox are the forerunners when it comes to managing files in shared folders. The added bonus many people find with Google Drive is that it’s so easily compatible with almost any device and you have full access to the Google suite of software tools including Sheets and Docs.
Evernote is like a handy notebook ensuring you never forget a single of your thoughts or notes. You can organize your thoughts into notebooks, to-do lists and more to ensure you can find what you need when you need it. There are also tagging options so any note can be found with ease. It is a very simple app but perfect for brainstorming sessions, writing quick blog posts and keeping your thoughts in one place to look back on when needed.
This is just a small example of the types of tools you could offer and use within your remote workgroups. There are other more specific tools for specialized tasks such as social media scheduling, finance planning and project development which may be specific to your business and you’ll soon find the right blend of software and tools to suit your business.
Remote Working Success is Worth the Effort
Choosing to work with a virtual team gives your business the chance to grow without excess overheads. You can still develop strong and long-lasting team relationships and celebrate successes together, if you build the right team ethic and culture.
Remote working can be a great way of building a business that is accessible globally, exceeds client expectations, and has happy, motivated employees, but you need to keep the above points in mind to make a success of it.