The phenomenon of remote working has gotten quite some attention in recent years. Although there are a lot of advocates to this idea, there are also furious opponents. Which ever side you belong to, be aware: there is one simple way to build a kick-ass remote team.
Why do I sound so confident? I have witnessed great remote teams been put together and I have done it myself at Weekdone.
But first, why is this fuzz around remote working even important? Has anyone witnessed a sudden drop in employee engagement among their team members? Chances are that answers to these questions are vague, but what brings much more clarity is statistics. According to Gallup research, Global workforce study, PxC’s NextGen Study and many more, the global workforce has never been less engaged at work, as they are at the current moment. Almost 70% of workers are not reaching their full potential.
The icing of the cake: remote workers actually log more hours into their primary job compared to co-workers at the office, dedicating more hours to the current job. Every company needs talented people to join their community and spreading your search to global market will increase the probability of getting what you asked for.
So, forget about the Marissa Mayer’s ban on remote employees at Yahoo and build a kick-ass team starting with these steps:
1. Create a culture that embraces the unconventional work method
Wishing to root the unconventional work method inside your company is far from making it happen. In order to even start building a team that will bring your company to the Fortune 500 list, you need a company culture that truly supports remote working.
This demands a lot from the leaders and the followers. Better yet, it demands the one thing we are so keen on keeping to ourselves: trust. Leading a remote team is all about trust and mutual understanding. Well, this does not happen overnight, but it starts from company’s culture. When there is a bad bug in that area, deal with it right away.
2. Do not hire the top-achievers, hire the crazy enthusiasts
The most important decisions you make are during the hiring process. No matter what business you are in or what kind of talent you would like to attract, hiring only the top-achievers is quite a gamble. Remote teams are usually guided with a bigger vision and a greater freedom. So, taking on board the top-achiever that excels in everything he or she does alone, might be a struggle when it comes to efficient communications and teamwork.
Instead, hire also the crazy enthusiasts that just love the project or the idea behind it. Hire the ones that have a rock solid self-discipline and motivation that blows everybody’s mind. Yeah sure, they might not have the same know how as the top-achievers, but they have something that is even more valuable – endless drive.
3. Ditch the e-mails and welcome the 21st century
Imagine a bowl of soup that is put together from all the leftovers that you have found in the fridge. Not quite compelling? So why would you use the same tactics when providing the right tools for your remote team. It gets incredibly messy when you try to give the team free hands on choosing from millions of different apps and services to stay in touch. Instead, handpick few that get the work done easily, so you could concentrate on the real project.
Our remote team uses mostly only three tools. For everyday real-time communication and meetings, Skype has proven to be the best choice. You can have face-to-face meetings, constructive discussions. But be aware, if you are in the productivity peak, ignore all the alerts and sounds that might pop up when somebody is trying to connect with you. For sharing lengthy documents Google Docs and Dropbox are the famous leaders in their field. It is a really fast way to share the development news with your team or upload yet another annoyingly funny picture of you working in the Bahamas. Whatever you choose to share, keep in mind that a clear system must be agreed upon. All the files and folders are useless, if nobody can find them. Finally, use a team monitoring and management tool, for example Weekdone. This helps the whole team to stay on track, be focused on the most important tasks and collaborate in order to achieve the desired objectives.
By no means is building a kick-ass remote team easy, but it is possible. But starting right away with the suitable company culture, attracting the right people for the job and giving them the appropriate tools, is a winning recipe.
Good article. But as a long-time telecommuter myself, I would add one additional tool to your list: MySammy (www.mysammy.com). This cloud-based software actually measures the productivity levels of remote workers. My boss uses it, and we both believe it’s invaluable for managers of telecommuters.