Your Remote Team Will Fuel Your Success
Posted on April 1, 2014
These days, the abundance of freelancers and cloud computing allows you to manage your well-running engine of a company from the comfort of your home — but not without clear communication, set goals, and the right team. To find success, you need to follow these fundamentals of maintaining productivity while managing your team remotely:
1. Start With the Right Team
The first thing I look at when hiring remote team members is their list of past accomplishments. I need to see not only what they’ve done in the past, but what they learned from it. For example, if you’re looking for a good sales rep, the best ones might be ex-school teachers, as teaching requires skills that translate well to a sales role, such as the ability to present, hold a group’s attention, and build rapport.
I also look for people who can have complex conversations. You can tell a lot about how well people think on their feet just by prodding them with scenarios that will come up in the workplace.
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Despite these precautions, we do get our share of duds; you have to cut your losses as quickly as possible. If you’re not seeing the results you’re expecting early on, you’re not going to see them later. A trial period is a great way to set expectations to ensure that weak team members never even make it on your full-time squad, pulling the rest of the team down.
2. Respect People’s Time
Expect everyone to show up to meetings on time. And when I say “on time,” I mean two minutes early. Being late causes everyone in the meeting to lose time, focus, and, most importantly, trust. In a remote situation, the only time team members get the chance to physically communicate with one another is during meetings, so the timing of those meetings needs to run like a well-oiled machine.
We prefer using Google Apps with Hangouts, which allows us to schedule meetings directly in Google Calendar. And if everyone on your team is using the same Google Apps, you can share calendars to remove scheduling headaches.
Another upside of using Google Apps is Google Calendar’s feature that lets you add new time zones to your calendar, ensuring that you respect everyone’s time, even if they’re on the other side of the country. On that note, people are often willing to adjust their schedules to overlap with yours. Don’t be afraid to make that request.
3. Communicate Face-to-Face With Video
There are too many free communication methods out there to have issues reaching your team. Ensure that everyone has the proper software and accounts on Skype (voice, text, and video chat), Google Hangouts (multi-line video chat, which includes Gmail and a free Google Voice number), Ventrilo (VoIP voice and text chat), and Jabber (encrypted text). These platforms will give you a multitude of ways to communicate at any given moment, as long as your team has a reliable Internet connection.
4. Organize Group Chats and Activities
Just because you’re working remotely doesn’t mean you can’t work together. Google Docs provides a great platform to exchange files while Hangouts allows you to collaborate and share your screens. There are also platforms like HipChat (a favorite here at Clevertech) that provide private chat rooms you can use to check in. Having everyone on your team check in on those platforms at least once a day allows you to synchronize your team and keeps everyone on the same page, even if they’re reading the conversation at different times.
Running your team remotely seems daunting at first, but once you understand how to use the tools available and reach everyone, bonds of trust can be formed that will prevent your team from becoming cubicle zombies. If you’re enthusiastic about what you do, you can overcome distance and relay your passion to your team, regardless of physical boundaries. We’re living in the digital revolution, and there’s no better time than now to broaden your entrepreneurial horizons.