There’s no doubt about it: Remote working is not only here to stay, but getting bigger.
According to Forbes, more than 1.54 million people in the UK worked from home in the UK (compared to just 884,000 in 2009).
Similarly, according to Sonovate, the UK has seen a 43% growth in freelancing since 2008.
WIth the COVID-19 accelerating this monumental shift in the workforce, more and more businesses are looking to build remote working teams to cut costs and cast their hiring net further afield.
If you’re looking to get started with the incredible benefits of remote working, here are 7 must-follow practices to set up a successful remote team:
Look For Employees With A History Of Remote Work
Here’s the thing:
One of the biggest challenges of remote work is that employees have to be disciplined enough to stick to their work schedule
Remote workers are also largely responsible for creating a suitable work environment, planning their daily schedules and taking sensible breaks.
Without a supervisor monitoring them in-person, some employees may struggle to stay focused on their daily tasks.
Similarly, others may take it to the other extreme and work far more hours than required.
One of the best practices for setting up (and subsequently managing) a successful remote team is to hire employees with a history of successful remote work.
Keep in mind that successful remote work doesn’t always need to be from a paid employer. Independent projects & hobbies can also demonstrate successful remote work.
“Manage and organize remote teams more effectively with ProofHub. Try for FREE!”
Here are a few quick tips for evaluating an employee’s previous remote work history:
- Ask for references: References from previous remote employers will provide you with a great understanding of how a prospective employee manages remote work.
- Ask about their remote working procedures: When interviewing a candidate, ask them to talk you through their remote working strategy and explain how it keeps them on track. This will give you a good overview of how disciplined they are in remote situations, as well as if their preferences are a good fit for your company culture.
- Get them to discuss their interests: Asking about a candidate’s interests isn’t just a way of getting to know them, but also an insight into how they manage their work/life balance.
Set Up Your Remote Working Infrastructure
The backbone of a productive remote working team is a strong set of remote working infrastructure.
Here’s a list of recommended remote working tools to get you started:
- ProofHub: Online project management software that serves as an all-encompassing virtual office for remote teams.
- Slack: Project-based chat system that allows remote teams to communicate & collaborate.
- Google Drive: Cloud-based file storage service. Google Drive also features a free suite of office software, which can be accessed by your entire team.
- Zoom: Video conferencing software that allows for virtual meetings, webinars, presentations & breakout groups.
- Asana: Task management application which allows you to delegate tasks to employees & track their progress.
- Harvest: Time tracking application with integrated invoicing software (which is useful if you’re hiring a team of freelancers).
- FocusMe: Website blocking software to block irrelevant or distracting websites during working hours.
- 1Password: Password management software for businesses & small teams.
- Zappy: Screen recording software which can be used for recording meetings, training employees or working collaboratively.
- Visme: Free collaborative branding software that’s great for remote teams in the creative industries.
- Twine: Freelancing platform for hiring remote workers in the creative & digital sectors, from digital marketing to animation.
If you’d like a more extensive list of remote working software, check out this in-depth breakdown of 25 remote working tools.
Offer Opportunities For Social Interaction
Here are two super important stats to keep in mind when building a remote team:
- 20% of remote workers struggle with loneliness
- 70% of remote workers feel left out of the workplace
With the key to a successful business being a successful team, it’s really important to make sure your employees are both happy and settled within the company.
When working remotely, there are three aspects of social interaction you’ll want to make up for:
General office chat
Working from home can be a lonely affair. Without an office full of people to chat to throughout the day, it’s easy for employees to feel left out.
The best way to circumvent this is to set up a dedicated channel in your virtual office environment for general chat, encouraging employees to discuss points that aren’t directly related to work.
“Start quick one-on-one or group chat with ProofHub. Start your FREE trial now!”
Most virtual office platforms will have a feature for shared coffee or lunch breaks. For example, Slack’s donut feature randomly pairs up two people each week to have a virtual 30 minute zoom call over coffee or lunch. This can make a huge difference to the well-being of your employees as they get to know their colleagues better and settle into the company environment.
Once a month, set up a virtual social event for the entire team to have some recreational time together.
This list of remote working games by Museum Hack is a great starting point for social ideas. With everything from tea tasting to spreadsheet pixel art, remote social games are sure to make your employees feel part of the company culture.
It’s also well-worth setting aside some budget each year to meet up in person, either at a conference or a social event.
Allow For Flexible Work Schedules
One of the biggest advantages of hiring a fully-remote team is that it allows you to cast your hiring net far wider.
When you’re not limited to a particular location, you’re able to pick and choose the very best talent from all over the world.
Despite being an incredible advantage, there are two disadvantages this perk presents:
- Employees may be operating in different time zones, which can cause scheduling issues.
- When working from home, employees will likely want to work when it best suits them.
Allowing for flexible work schedules is the best way to overcome this issue. However, you’ll need to set some boundaries to ensure that colleagues are able to hold meetings & collaborate with each other.
Here are a few tips for setting flexible work regulations:
- Trust your employees: If you’ve got your KPI’s in order, anyone abusing their flexible working hours will be quickly found out. Therefore, there’s no need to micromanage your employees. By making your expectations clear and granting them flexibility, employees.
- Establish a time zone to adhere to: Pick a main company time zone to adhere to when scheduling meetings or other events. This should be whichever time zone the majority of your employees are based in.
- Establish set meeting hours: Establish a four hour window each day in which employees should make themselves available for meetings. This’ll allow team members to work collaboratively or jump on a quick five minute call if they need to chat with someone.
- Encourage employees to track their time: Whilst you don’t want to use time tracking to micromanage your employees, time tracking will provide you with valuable data to better-refine your flexible working arrangements and increase the productivity of your team.
Bonus tip: While a remote team allows you to cast your hiring net a little wider, make sure you don’t go too crazy with the time zone difference. A remote team full of employees with wildly different time zones can make it unbelievably difficult to establish meeting hours or work collaboratively.
Establish Clear Remote Working Procedures
Clear procedure is the key to keeping your business running smoothly from day-to-day.
Whilst remote employees have the benefit of structuring their own work day, there’s also the chance for everyone to adhere to completely different procedures, which will quickly derail your business.
Make sure you’ve established a clear and well-detailed remote working procedure, including:
- Working hours
- Performance guidelines
- Communication guidelines
- Internet/social media use
- Use of company infrastructure
I’d highly recommend using a tool such as Notion to host your remote working policy. Notion allows you to create separate pages for each policy, which can then be annotated & adjusted.
Once you’ve implemented the policy, it’s important to review it on a regular basis to ensure it’s both effective and well-followed by your team.
Make Your Communication Guidelines Clear
Proper communication is imperative to the success of your team.
However, it’s also one of the most challenging aspects faced by a team of remote workers.
This is especially relevant if only part of your team is remote; those in the office may hold impromptu discussions, which then aren’t properly fed back to remote workers.
Remote workers may choose to communicate largely over email or direct messages, which unintentionally excludes the rest of the team from the discussion.
On the flip side, chat software can often get cluttered with information and difficult for employees to navigate.
Here are a few tips for managing effective communication in the workplace:
Use public channels as much as possible
Set up dedicated channels in your virtual office software for different facets of your business (sales, marketing, product development etc.) and encourage employees to use these channels wherever possible.
This prevents important information from unintentionally being siloed on email or within direct messages.
Create threads for particular topics
If someone starts a conversation within a particular channel, have them set it as a thread which can then be replied to.
This keeps information organized and prevents employees from having to waste time sorting through irrelevant discussion to find what they need.
Use video where possible
Face-to-face discussion is not only more personable, but also much-more efficient for conveying large amounts of information.
A downside to messaging systems is that it can be difficult to convey tone or meaning within text-based communication, leading to misinterpretations from other employees. Video can successfully circumvent this issue
Face-to-face discussion should also be leveraged when meeting with clients; this helps to build rapport and allows you to match a personality to your organization.
Choose Your KPIs Wisely
As a business owner, you no doubt understand the importance of establishing clear KPIs.
But remember: Many remote working issues stem from adhering to the wrong KPIs.
When employees aren’t bound to set working hours (and aren’t directly under your supervision), it makes little sense to use working hours as a KPI.
Instead, I’d recommend switching to a results only work environment. This way, employees are measured on the value they bring to the company rather than the time they spend on the company.
Here are a few results-orientated KPI examples to get you started:
- Profit per employee
- Average task completion rate
- Time division (as opposed to number of hours worked)
- Customer retention rate
- Employee satisfaction rating
- Profit margin (gross & net)
- Conversion rate per-lead
So, there you have it — 7 must-follow practices to set up a successful remote team.
The key takeaway from this article is that a successful remote team can be boiled down to the following two attributes:
- Trusting your employees (by hiring the right people and making your expectations clear)
- Setting up strong remote working infrastructure (using tools & implementing processes to ensure your team is not only capable of doing their job, but hally & fulfilled in their respective roles)
ProofHub serves as an all-in-one solution to establishing & managing a remote team; for more information, click here to see how it works.
Author Bio: George is the digital marketing executive at Twine, a freelancing platform that provides businesses with high-quality freelancers in the creative and digital sectors.
Thank you for reading this,before you go
Clap: if you enjoyed reading this article, so others can find it
Comment: if you have a question/suggestion you’d like to ask
Follow: ProofHub to read all the articles
- How To Adopt Remote Work In A Marketing Team
- Key Principles to Work in a Remote Team for Every Member
- 2020 Inspired Remote Work Stats To Make You Feel Less Alone
7 Must-Follow Practices to Set Up A Successful Remote Team was originally published in ProofHub Blog on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.