When you work in digital marketing, SEO, website development, or anything similar, you likely do most of your work remotely. Then, when you’re ready to expand your business, you’re most likely going to do that through the creation of a remote team.
A few years ago, the idea of working remotely wasn’t necessarily mainstream. There was a lot of talk about more remote work opportunities, but the talk wasn’t always put into practice.
Now, following the pandemic, whenever possible, people are working remotely.
There are advantages but also challenges. Business leaders are having a hard time figuring out what they need to do to build remote teams that are effective.
With that in mind, the following is a guide to building your team remotely and ensuring they’re as efficient, productive, and impactful as an on-site team if not more so.
Consider the Technicalities
You want your remote team members to focus on their work with as little friction as possible. At the same time, you can’t ignore cybersecurity challenges. This means you need to make every effort to secure your systems, applications, and data, but to do so in a way that doesn’t impede your employees’ productivity.
For example, maybe you use identity and access management (IAM) solutions. IAM is what lets the right people access the needed resources at the proper times and for the correct reasons.
Basically, this means that IAM is an IT solution for secure management of connections to IT resources.
Your remote team can work at their highest level with a good IAM solution, and you have the peace of mind that comes with a secure dispersed work environment.
Along with cybersecurity, other technicalities you have to keep in mind before you can build an effective team include things like task management solutions and collaboration platforms.
It’s your responsibility as the leader of a virtual team to make sure that everyone who’s part of your team has the tools that will allow them to be connected, productive, and get their work done.
Determine the Structure of Your Remote Team
Before you start hiring employees or assigning specific tasks, you need to have a structure in place for your team.
You’ll have to consider the hierarchy of the team, but also how things like potentially working in different parts of the country or varying time zones could affect your structure.
Reconsider How You Hire
When you’re hiring employees who are going to be primarily or exclusively working remotely, you have to rethink what you’re looking for.
For example, the skills that are going to be most important when you hire are the ability to work independently and be self-motivated.
You might be able to train on certain hard skills, but the ability to manage their time when they’re working outside of a traditional office environment isn’t usually something that can be taught.
You also want to consider onboarding.
Onboarding is when you define your culture and set the tone for what an employee is going to do in the short- and longterm.
Identify the Right Metrics to Focus On
Just like you can’t hire remote team members in the exact same way you would on-premises employees, you can’t focus on the same metrics to measure success either.
When you’re managing a team and they’re in the office, then you can have a pretty clear idea of how much time they’re spending working.
You don’t have this with a remote team, at least not in the same ways.
Rather than trying to force employees to be constantly working by using something like time-tracking software, instead, reframe how you measure their success. Freedom and flexibility are some of the big reasons that people prefer to work remotely in the first place, so don’t lose sight of this.
When you’re leading a distributed team, you need to be thinking about what matters.
It doesn’t matter how much someone works. What matters are the outcomes.
When your team is completing tasks and doing so well, and on deadline, you shouldn’t worry about how much time they spent doing it.
You have to reframe your thinking so that you’re focusing on what’s being accomplished.
Be Clear with Expectations
While you don’t want to worry so much about how something gets done when you’re building a remote team, but rather that it is getting done, you do want to be extremely clear with all expectations.
You should set guidelines and be ready to create regular goals so that your team knows what’s expected of them.
Once you have members of your team in place, you should set specific times you expect them to be online, if that’s necessary. You should let them know how quickly you expect them to respond to communication and how often they should generally check-in.
You should also set and revisit goals for individual employees and teams, outline who the point of contact is for issues and projects, and which types of communication they should use based on the current situation.
The less ambiguity you have in these areas, the happier your remote team is going to be, and the more they can focus on productivity.
As you build a successful remote team, you’ll need to stay engaged with them. You don’t want your remote team to feel disconnected from leadership, the work at hand, or the company in general.
Hold departmental meetings as needed, and checkin with individual employees.
You also want to invest in developing your team.
Learning and development are how you build the best possible team and workforce.
Finally, to build the best team working remotely, you have to learn to trust. Your team has to know that you trust them to get things done. Don’t try to be a remote micromanager because it’s ineffective, wastes time, and it’s going to impact your culture.
Yes, you should check in regularly and see how things are going, but your team should feel comfortable solving problems and achieving things in their own ways.