Building a team in the same city can be challenging, but building a remote team worldwide can be even harder as one can imagine.
Trying to put together a remote business has a lot of incentives for entrepreneurs. For example, productivity and efficiency increase working remotely. Also, it presents an incredible opportunity to recruit the best talent on the planet…literally.
Here are nine great strategies to consider (and traps to avoid) if you want to build a functional remote team and enjoy the benefits that come with it.
1) Make sure your employees are self-motivated and have remote working experience
Everyone is talking these days about the benefits of remote working and remote companies.
Maybe the most significant advantage you have as a remote employer is that you can recruit from a vast global pool of talent.
However, as a manager or business owner, one must keep in mind that remote working is not quite for everyone. It comes with particular requirements.
You need to be aware of these so you can find the talent suitable for your company’s needs. Some of these concerns can be addressed based on the strategy you have for global recruitment and how you structure the interview for the position.
If you are a startup in its early stages, this shouldn’t be an issue. All the members of the team are risk-taking mavericks and have a vested interest in the company. However, some of your newcomers might not be the right fit for remote work when the company grows. Make sure you have a filter for new hires and weed the unsuitable ones out asap.
In general, you should be looking for these traits when considering a candidate for a remote position:
- Good communicator
- Remote experience preferred
Make sure you stay focused on your company’s mission and values during the hiring process. It’s easier to build and maintain a culture when people are hired to understand and match their values.
2) Regular channels of communication
Communication is key. Just like in any relationship, this stays true, and it’s maybe the most critical requirement for a remote team to remain functional.
Luckily, there are tools out there to help you, and having processes in place would also help a lot. Hence, make sure you have a few procedures in place for the team.
Github is a great way to see what your coding team is up to at any time. A quick look at the most recent commits, and you can focus on other important things rather than demanding lengthy reports.
Videoconferencing allows a more immersive experience than phone calls by allowing everyone to observe others’ body language. Zoom has made video conferencing easier than ever, and many companies require their employees now to have the camera always on. This is mostly for more human interaction and to build trust.
Don’t forget Hangouts from Google or Team from Microsoft. They are pretty solid alternatives, and they are well integrated within their ecosystem.
Slack is popular collaboration software, makes regular communication easy and efficient with their desktop and mobile apps.
Many remote companies prefer to arrange weekly team calls where everyone gets online at the same time and presents their contributions and progress for the week.
As a manager, you can also set priorities during the weekly calls, raise bottlenecks, and collaborate on ideas.
For development sprints, you can use Trello. It’s great to put everyone on the same page. Monday.com is a similar but more visual tool that can also help the team understand and sync the sprints better.
3) Onboarding new employees remotely in the team
The onboarding process for remote teams is very different from the one in person as you’d have expected. First of all, you have to think about how you structure the interviews and keep in mind the time zones where people live at that time.
You should set up some online documentation (Trello, Confluence) for the new joiners with basic information. Furthermore, this portal should function as a center for them to learn about your company, people, and processes (if you have any). It doesn’t have to be super advanced and can contain essential information. Remember, you are in the early days.
Implement intro meetings for new hires with each department Manager via video calls. This way, new hires can get accustomed to the different departments and get an idea of how they work, what they do, and the challenges they face.
4) Focus on the right metrics
Keeping an eye on the quality and quantity of your employees’ work when the team is distributed requires a completely different mindset.
As a manager or owner, you should focus on objectives, outcomes, and behavior rather than how long it took them to complete it. The most important indicators are the ones that tell if remote workers complete their objectives in time and do so with a good quality of work. Focus on what is being accomplished rather than how and when.
5) Efficient processes
When building a startup, one has to be extremely efficient with its time. After you get some traction, you should start putting some small processes in place.
Focus on results instead. Track revenue, your application’s speed, traffic, and conversions. Automate, or even outsource, anything else that is not the core of your product.
Tracking employee hours, holidays, outbound calls per hour, or any other corporate metrics might be a total waste of time. You’ll be drowning in metrics. Part of why larger companies can track those metrics is that they have entire departments doing it. Not to mention the financial resources too. You, as a startup, won’t have those benefits, so you’d better prioritize.
Payroll processing is by far the most time-consuming part of managing a new business. You can easily get caught up in the “paperwork” to make this process a set and forget. Outsource as much as you can and focus on your product or service.
6) How to create and keep the culture alive remotely
Having a good culture is vital for the success of any business. The distance can make it even harder to build a culture across a distributed team.
Mention as often as you can the company’s core values to the employees and lead by example. During the hiring process, you should tell the candidates about the startup’s deep values and see if they align or how they react.
It’s easier to build and maintain a culture when everyone hired gets it and is aligned with that culture from the very beginning.
Managing a distributed team usually forces companies to be more disciplined in their processes and keep the communication flowing between all employees. This ensures everyone remains aligned on the company goals.
Yearly or bi-yearly get-togethers with the team in exotic locations are incredibly beneficial for members to bond. You can also have fun and meet colleagues in real life, but you can also run seminars and workshops about the company’s performance and plans.
Mainly, remember that the remote company culture is made up of the people, how they communicate, and the processes that make up the interactions.
7) Monthly All Hands
This is very important and shouldn’t be ignored. Everyone should be informed and refreshed on the monthly goals, challenges, and priorities for the year.
You could either present them as in quarters and do a deep-dive in the challenge or look at them monthly. This should help everyone to stay aligned and focus on the company goal. Incorporate a Q&A session at the end of every “All Hands” and let people ask questions via the video conferencing tool. Some people are shy or can become embarrassed, so using the video tool’s chat function is a good idea.
8) Monthly company newsletter
To keep everyone in the loop on what other teams are working on, it is recommended you send out a company newsletter once a month or even twice a month. The newsletter should touchpoints like top priorities and progress for the quarter, highlight the props given that month for our core values, and update each department on what went well, what didn’t go well, and what they’ve learned.
We also include a call-out to people with upcoming birthdays and celebrate our work anniversaries.
9) Weekly or bi-monthly one-on-ones
Each employee should have a one-on-one with their manager once per week or once every other week. This type of one-to-one allows managers to listen to the employee’s feedback, remove any possible bottlenecks, and help each employee understand how they contribute to our overall goal as a company.