Managing remote teams can present a lot of unique challenges. So much so in fact, that many companies shun remote workers simply because they don’t have experience managing teams in that kind of environment. It can be a scary prospect. But that fear hasn’t stopped remote work from becoming increasingly popular in recent years.
In the end, remote work will win. Of course, not every job is appropriate for remote work, but advancing technology has an increasing number of jobs suitable for remote startup teams. This, combined with lower overhead costs, a broader pool of talent, and the attraction of millennial workers has made remote teams an attractive option for companies of all sizes. Additionally, a wealth of tools for online collaboration have become available in recent years that can help remote startup teams to collaborate and share data more effectively.
If your company is considering dipping your toes into remote work, remember these remote team management tips:
Remote Success Starts With Effective Hiring
There are certain unique considerations that come with hiring remote workers. Not all employees are suited for remote work. It requires a different skill set than traditional roles. Having prompt and reliable communication skills is paramount, as well as being self-driven. It can be lonely working from home, so remote workers need to take additional steps to maintain a healthy lifestyle, like signing up for a coworking program.
Before hiring for your remote startup team, outline the types of traits that will be important both for the position itself and in a remote worker. Having experience as a remote worker is definitely something that you should seek during the hiring process. It can be difficult for someone that has never worked remotely to adjust. Additionally, certain personality traits can make the transition smoother than others. A very outgoing person may have trouble transitioning to remote work. However, outgoing people that are very self-motivated may have an easier time.
Video and Voice Meetings
To build rapport with co-workers, it’s important to have face-to-face communication. Communicating solely through email doesn’t help your team to develop those close relationships that lead to effective collaboration. Requiring a weekly video meeting can be a great way to break the ice and get everyone on the same page while facilitating closer relationships. The more that you give your team the chance to get in front of the webcam, the closer those relationships will become. While it would be unreasonable to require them to work through video all the time, occasional video chats should be a part of any remote team.
Build Collaboration Into Your Processes
When you don’t work together in the same office, it’s easy for employees to dive head-first into their work without looking for feedback. But, collaboration will almost always lead to a closer team and a better end-product. For managers, it is smart to make collaboration just a part of project delivery. If you want your remote workers to seek out feedback from other team members, require them to do so. Otherwise, it’s easy for collaborative elements of projects to fall to the backburner.
With all remote projects, encourage your team to work together on various aspects. Even something as simple as building proofreading and feedback into your processes can help remote startup teams get to know each other and become more comfortable working together.
Help Remote Startup Teams Connect With Your Office
As a remote startup team manager, one of your most difficult jobs will be getting your remote teams involved with in-office employees and projects. In companies that are on the fence about remote teams, you may have one shot to prove to them that remote workers can be an integral cog in your operations. By getting them involved with those that work in your office, you’ll build familiarity and put yourself in a position to demonstrate the value of your remote team.
To help your remote startup teams build familiarity with the people that work in your office, make sure to provide each one of them with an org chart. This will help them to familiarize themselves with the team and prioritize who the right person to contact internally is for a range of different issues. Additionally, it keeps them from using the remote team manager as a middle-man for contact details and delivering messages, allowing them to stay focused on their job.
Communication Takes On Increased Importance
Communication is the most important skill required for managing a remote team. You won’t have those quick chats at the water cooler, the quick chats at their desk, or the general atmosphere of the building to help them stay focused and prioritizing the right tasks. A great remote team manager has to clearly and effectively communicate with every member of the team.
When managing team members living in different areas and using different tools, it can be easy to let strands of conversations make their way to several different platforms and tools. This can get pretty confusing, so a big part of a remote managers job is deciding how communication will take place and enforcing strict adherence to the rules that you outline. There are numerous tools that you can use to help you streamline communication and make it more simple for managers and team members.
At least once per year, you should get your remote team together. As a standard practice, make sure that you invite each of your team members to your office Christmas parties and get-togethers, even if they can’t make it. Aside from that, planning a once-yearly vacation for your team alone can be a great way to build familiarity and grow the types of relationships that help a remote team to be successful. Preferably, you should let the team help to decide where you will be going.
Great Remote Teams Require Trial and Error
If it is your first time managing a remote team, you’ll probably run into numerous issues that you had simply never considered. That’s normal. Some of the biggest and most experienced companies in the world are still feeling their way through remote team management and learning on the fly. Don’t be afraid to identify problems and make changes to your processes to rectify those issues quickly. Effective remote startup team managers are those that find the happy balance between decision-making and taking feedback from their team.
Many startups set up shop knowing that remote startup teams will play a big role in their culture. Others fall into out of necessity or just to test the waters. No matter what situation leads you to employ remote workers, communication and the ability to facilitate collaboration with always play a key role in the success of your remote startup team.