Remote employment has become one of the fastest growing trends of the business world that doesn’t seem to hit the brakes any time soon. Companies turn to employees that work off-site, in the field or even on the other side of the world as a means to widen their network and cut on the labor costs. The number of remote workers is expected to reach 63 million, or 43 percent of U.S. workforce, by 2016.
Despite all the advancements of the modern age, it can be hard to maintain long-distance relationship. If you are in charge of such team and you want to stay productive, even when continents apart, you only need to follow these simple Ten Commandments.
Thou shalt choose the right people
Not everyone is cut out for remote employment, although many think they are. When people start working from home, they expect flexible hours and manageable workload. The reality check can hit them quite hard. So choose your team members carefully.
Above all else, they should be excellent team players. This includes communication skills and willingness to write and distribute status reports. Self-motivation is a plus, although this doesn’t mean that you can do without encouragement on your part. Select workers who are capable of working under minimal supervision, as this often will be the case.
Thou shalt communicate
This one should go without saying. Communication is the cornerstone of your teamwork. Thankfully, telecommuting technologies are developing by leaps and bounds, and distance is no longer that big of an issue. If members of your team work in different time zones, find suitable overlapping time and stick to it.
- Find a good balance between synchronous and asynchronous communication. Make sure the team member is available at the specific time. It is best to schedule these conversations in advance.
- Be mindful of when to speak to your team as a whole and when to do it one on one. Also, think about the type of communication to use. Visual communication can work wonders but never at the expense of quick chat conversations.
Thou shalt embrace technology
Communicating can be difficult when you lack the benefit of having face-to-face interactions. To make up for it, you should start using free chat applications, such as Skype and Google Hangouts. Even email, the option we never tire of putting down, has its uses.
Different companies prefer different communication tools. Zapier built Async for its remote teams to share goals and reports. AgoraPulse, which developed a social media management tool, uses Weekdone for connecting team members from Paris, San Francisco and Mexico City. Weekdone has flexible notification system, and it takes into account time zones of its users.
With recent social links developments, you will have no difficulties finding the combination of tools and gadgets that are tailored for you and your team.
Thou shalt schedule a plan
Remote team manager is, in essence, a juggler. The bigger the team, the harder it is to keep everything in check. The main paradox of remote team management is that you have to allow flexible hours yet maintain consistency. This is where you need a concrete plan.
Together with your teammates, develop timelines and milestones of your work. Define its scope and your expectations. Remote workers should be metrics-driven, as numbers give much clearer assessment of how far in progress you are.
Weekdone offers some nice options to review and analyze what has already been done and what needs further notice. Built-in tool for back-and-forth communication makes distributing your performance plan quick and easy.
Thou shalt set goals and objectives
It is vital to avoid any misunderstanding when you set objectives for your team. Everybody should know exactly what are they doing and to what end. Define these goals both on micro and macro level. If your team needs to increase output, assign personal objectives and explain how these will contribute to reaching that goal.
As an example of well-built hierarchy of objectives, Weekdone uses three-level OKR system. It takes into account company objectives, team objectives, and personal objectives. This allows for a much deeper planning and understanding.
Thou shalt promote productivity
To get the hang of things, remote team managers should always be aware of such things as attendance, work output and hours worked by every employee. The process of remote working can quickly get stale if you don’t encourage it through personal example and different incentives.
Weekdone allows to assess the level of team’s overall happiness and personal satisfaction of every individual team member. Moreover, you receive the means to reward consistency and reliability.
Thou shalt provide feedback
Team performance hinges on feedback, and you can greatly boost it with a strategically placed comment. When you work in a shared office, you can simply stop by a desk and offer your input. When working remotely, however, this can be challenging.
First of all, remote employment already lacks personal attachment, so try not to make it even more impersonal. Schedule a call to offer feedback or arrange a video chat to be able to read the reactions of your team member and act accordingly.
Weekdone offers a hassle-free option to leave weekly performance reviews that are immediately visible to a specific employee. The set of templates includes questions, concerns and praise. One click, and you can choose from the list what kind of feedback you want to make.
Thou shalt create collaborative environment
Building team spirit is difficult as it is. Working remotely for a long time, you can lose the feeling that you are a part of something greater. Discuss with your team members the reason why the team exists. Spend some time to define the company’s mission and clarify everyone’s responsibilities.
Thou shalt build trust
Always remember that there is a breathing human being on the other side of virtual conversation. Do not exclude anyone from important information. Share details about what is happening in the company, keep others informed and engaged.
The best way to create a true sense of team spirit is to schedule regular get-togethers in person. Enjoy some bonding time and talk about something other than work for once. It also feels very good to finally put a face to the name.
Almost every member of our team in Weekdone acts autonomously and is comfortable with working from home. Some of us live more than a hundred miles away, some are traveling abroad. However, we still have our neat workspace that we share a few days every week. Not to mention, free snacks and Xbox.
Thou shalt be appreciative
Working from home gives you a certain degree of freedom but it can often feel dispiriting. Times and times again we underscored the importance of positive reinforcement.
Never miss an important day of your team members. Send gifts on birthdays or just call them personally – or better yet, together with the rest of your team. Offer small rewards when your team reaches a milestone.
The simplest way you can make your appreciation felt in our Weekdone app is through enabling customizable rewards and leaving comments under weekly status reports.
By no means are these rules a holy scripture. If you want to be a good Samaritan and spread the word, however, you have our blessing.