Remote work is quickly becoming the new norm for the 3.9 million Americans who work from home at least half the week.
Remote workers report experiencing less stress. Employers save money on overhead. What’s not to love?
Managers report that remote workers are more productive than in-office workers, with two-thirds of employers sharing this sentiment in a recent study. Another report found that over half (53%) of U.S. companies are using “flexible talent”, another word for remote freelancers and work-from-home employees.
Managers report that remote workers are more productive than in-office workers.
Overall, building a remote team is easier and more commonplace than ever. If you're looking to build a remote team, check out the ultimate guide below to learn everything you need to know to get started.
Make a Plan
Our ChamberofCommerce.com team is made up of 15 in-house employees and another 10 people who work remotely from all over the world. Before building the remote team, it was necessary to first create an outline of the roles and responsibilities of each team member that needed to be recruited.
Consider if the work you need done is suitable for a project-based freelancer, or if it requires the dedication and full-time attention of a W-2 employee. In addition, you’ll need to calculate your budget for paying remote workers. The benefit of hiring freelancers is that there is no long-term commitment and you can use them on an as-needed basis.
The benefit of hiring freelancers is that there is no long-term commitment and you can use them on an as-needed basis.
Since your team is remote, that means you’ll have a much larger pool of potential applicants than you would with a traditional office job. This makes it possible to recruit the best people for the position and not have to worry about trying to relocate them to a new city. Be certain that any postings you make on job boards clearly reflect that you are hiring for a remote or telecommute position.
When you're ready to start onboarding members of your team, it's important that you are prepared to provide a clear vision of what the company does, its roadmap for the future, and a detailed description of what each team member does. These documents will ensure that every person who joins the team is on the same page and has a shared understanding of the company’s values, goals, and targets.
Start Small and Scale as Needed
Without the constraints of office space, your workforce can grow or shrink as your business demands. The good news about freelancers is that you can hire them or scale back as befits your needs and budget.
If you're just launching a new startup, hiring freelancers as you go is an excellent strategy, since it doesn't require the same capital commitment that hiring a full-time employee does. As your business grows, then you may consider hiring full-time remote workers in the future.
There are a variety of platforms to help connect companies with a network of freelancers in every field, including writing, editing, photography, accounting, design, software engineering, customer support, and so on. As an added benefit, most platforms handle payments to freelancers, drawing the funds from your account and holding them in escrow until the work is completed to your satisfaction.
Once you've developed your remote team, it is absolutely essential to maintain regular contact. You may need to establish protocol for preferred communication methods to ensure wires do not get crossed. Choose a primary channel for communication, which in most cases will be email. Secondary channels may include messaging platforms like Slack or Google Hangouts. Response times will vary with remote teams, so it's important to provide your team with your expectations.
Beyond day-to-day communication, you'll want to schedule ongoing video conferences with any direct reports that you hire. These weekly one-on-ones will be foundational for establishing a trusting and collaborative working relationship.
Response times will vary with remote teams, so it's important to provide your team with your expectations.
These relationships are easier to form when you are working side by side in a shared physical space day after day. Remote teams require a little bit of extra effort, but it's possible thanks to advances in video communication. Group video conferences are also essential and give your remote employees a chance to get to know each other on a more intimate basis.
- Google Docs
If remote teams have one downside, it is probably this: They are more vulnerable to cyber-attacks and data leaks. When you have a workforce based in a physical office, you have more control over information security. With a remote team, there's a greater chance that your employees will connect to a non-secure Wi-Fi access point, like public Wi-Fi at a coffee shop.
There are several strategies you can use to defend against adversarial cyber-attacks. They include some commonsense practices, as well of some things you may not have heard of before.
- Proper Password Management: A good password manager program will generate a secure password and store it for you.
- Multifactor Authentication (MFA): While many websites require a password, more are now requiring extra steps, such as specialized hardware or a sensor on your phone. This ensures that a password compromise will not endanger an existing account.
- Constant Vigilance: No matter how secure you believe your current system of security to be, a healthy amount of suspicion is not a bad thing. If someone asks you to reset your password, asking them to prove their identity is a good thing. No one can fault you for being cautious.
While it might take some effort, it is entirely possible, and completely liberating, to protect your privacy online. While you must remember that nothing is foolproof, there are many steps you may take to ensure that your data remains safe from the daily threats of cyber-attacks in your busy work life.
Have a Plan For Handling Customer Feedback
Many businesses may not have an entirely remote team, but instead have some departments in-house and some remote. One popular field for remote teams is in the area of customer support.
At ChamberofCommerce.com, we use a mix of in-house and remote customer support teams to help field customer inquiries across different time zones and multiple communication channels.
Modern technology can easily route calls, emails, and social media messages to the right customer support person wherever they are located — eliminating the need for having your support staff located in a centralized call center location. Of course, you'll need to track and encourage their performance via metrics like CSAT score and number of tickets closed per shift, and so on.
One management drawback about having a remote team is that you never really see them working. So how do you know they are?
This is why it's important that every remote worker on your team has clearly outlined expectations, deliverables, and deadlines. With team product management software, you can see the status of every task that your remote team has been assigned. Work with your remote team to establish tasks, schedules, and duties to make sure everyone is doing what they are supposed to.
With all of the above pieces in place, your remote team is finally assembled.
Keep up with the strategies mentioned here, and your remote team will function without a hitch. Remember, above all, that communication is of utmost importance when working with a remote team.