A remote-based business can be a blessing and a curse at the same time. On one end, you eliminate a huge expense, since you don’t need a large office, but on the other hand your entire team is spread out across the world and in different time zones.
But, if you do it right, and take several things into consideration, you can build a highly effective remote team to conquer any niche and industry. What are those things? Let’s let some top business experts help explain.
Establish one company-wide communication channel.
With everyone being spread out, communication is key to keeping everyone on the same page. You need to have one central communication channel that everyone uses.
“Pick one communication option and stick to it,” suggests Oliver James of Perth Web Design. “A tool like Slack is great because it keep all messages and files in one space, which can be accessed at any time by the entire team.”
Slack also allows you to set certain permissions for each user, so it’s not a complete free for all. The last thing you want to do it let some people use an IM client, some use email and then other means of communication. One channel will keep you organized.
Have a home office address.
This is something that many forget when they operate remotely. You need a business address, even if you don’t have an office.
“If you don’t set up a dedicated office address you run the risk of having your personal address made public, as a lot of business directories use information generators that just scrub the internet to find information,” says Pedro Del Nero of Vaporizer Vendor. “You don’t want the address you use on your company documents to be listed, so set up a virtual mailbox in the beginning and use that for everything.”
You can get virtual business addresses with mail forwarding service for around $99 per month. It’s worth it just to keep your personal address private.
Use a phone or video conferencing system.
While communicating on Slack is great, often times you need to communicate “in-person” but being remote that is hard.
“A video conferencing system can be set up easily and inexpensively, so take advantage and use that when you would normally need a face-to-face,” says Darryl Howard of Blogger Tips. You don’t want your team to always use this, because a lot of times a quick Slack message will do, but if more detailed communication and explanation is needed this will help ensure that some messages and points will not be misunderstood.
Uber Conference is the premier video conferencing system and you can get started with it for free, for up to 10 participants.
Regular communication and meetings is needed.
One of the best things you can do is have a daily motivational call, even if it’s just 3 minutes. You can do it via voice or video, whatever is easier. Again, you want to keep it short.
“A morning ‘pump up call’ is a great way to get everyone ready to go for the day, but also a good way to remind them that they are all part of a much bigger picture,” says Chris Moberg of Slumber Search. “Being remote can be lonely to some, especially if they are used to an in-person team environment. A quick call for a couple minutes reminds everyone that they are a big team”
Consider a time-tacking tool for staff management.
One of the hardest parts of remote management is making sure everyone is doing their job. For lower level team members and new hires you might want to consider a time tracking tool.
“A tool like Time Doctor is a great option for remote teams,” says April Gillmore of clickfirstmarketing.com. “It’s a SaaS product that keeps track of team members’ online activity, while recording screen usage and also sending managers screenshots. This can help spot team members that are slacking or spending a little too much time on Facebook.”
While you don’t want to micro-manage, your team needs to know that they are there to complete a job, and just because they are remote they shouldn’t slack off more than they would in a traditional office setting.
Hold accountable and take action if needed.
So, what happens if you find out that some remote team members are slacking and not carrying their weight?
“If you find some remote employees are not performing as required, you need to take action,” says Ignacio Soria of CANN & Co., a company you can learn more about here. “Being remote, if someone isn’t pulling his or her weight, it can have a devastating trickle down effect. Hold everyone accountable and fire and replace if need be.”
If someone is slacking, start to keep detailed notes so you can bring it to their attention if you impose disciplinary action, like a warning, or even letting them go. You want to have everything in writing to protect yourself.
Put in extra work to make it feel like a team environment.
You have to make sure that everyone feels like they are all part of the team, and every role contributes to the success of the company. You could be a health blog, with writers, editors, graphic designers, SEO team members and an advertising department. They all need to feel important.
“Have regular conference calls or better yet, video calls, so everyone can see each other,” says Andrew Tran of weighted blanket company Therapy Blanket. “The more you can make it ‘feel’ like everyone is together, the stronger the team will be.
You can also do things like host internal competitions to keep everyone pushing hard. Something as simple as making the results public helps to keep everyone pushing toward the same goals.