According to a Global Workplace Analytics study, 50% of the US workforce holds a job that is compatible with at least partial telework and approximately 20-25% of the workforce teleworks frequently.
Remember those times where everyone was working at the office, every day? If you would say that to millennials right now they may think you are crazy, or just too old. During the last five years we have seen a significant increase of flexibility when it comes to workforce, and this trend will even increase in the next five.
Technology allows us to be connected everywhere, every time and there are solutions which give us with the capability to do our job from a distance, sometimes being more productive than being in an office. Who isn’t working in the cloud today? Sorry, if you are, don’t you really want to look for another job?
Entrepreneurship is also increasing dramatically. There are more freelancers than ever before, providing their own services as experts in very specific areas from ux desing to translations, programming or consulting.
- The good thing? If you are looking for very talented people to join your team, you don’t need to be able to find them where you have an office or spend money relocating them.
- The bad thing? Talented employees change jobs more often than other employees and you will need an extra effort and probably resources to retain them.
Manage lead a remote team
Let’s imagine you already have a team or are planning to build one and you don’t really care about where they are based. That’s great but in order to make your team successful, you need to work on a couple of things first:
1. Define the profile you are looking for.
Not everyone can work remotely. You will need to find candidates with a quite specific profile. They need to be results oriented, responsible, have a good degree of independency and entrepreneurship, proactive and maybe the most shocking one; being great team players. Being remote doesn’t mean they aren’t part of something bigger than themselves and collaboration skills are much more important than when you have them in the same office every day.
2. Test their accountability skills during the recruitment process
No matter how your recruitment process looks like, focus on their ability to be held accountable, their responsiveness and implication to the team’s goal.
3. Trust them.
Micromanaging remote employees is the easiest mistake to make when leading a remote team. Yes, they are remote, they can do (almost) whatever they want without you knowing. They can check Facebook, have a coffee break or go to the beach during working hours. You shouldn’t care. If you have done the first two steps properly and found the right candidate, they will deliver results. There are many people working remotely that are more productive than people spending 9 hours in an office.
4. Make them feel part of the team
Organise frequent team calls/meetings. Skype, Google Hangouts, Join.me, and many other tools allow you to have good quality meetings no matter where they are. Structured and frequent contact between team members to share best practices, knowledge, updates are crucial for them to feel integrated and comitted.
5. Organise cool stuff together once in a while
This is a question of budget, but if that isn’t a big issue, it is totally worth to organize some get together every quarter or every 6 months to spend a couple of days working as a team, getting to know each other better and aligning face to face. Yes, having some drinks and fun also helps, a lot.
6. Make time for them in a structured way
Weekly 1-on-1 meetings are good to get a feeling about how they are doing, aligning about what to do every week and help them in anything they may need to be productive and get results. Schedule them, honour them and don’t skip them.
7. Get their feedback
Ask them how they are doing. Yes, that’s included in point 6, but when managing someone that you don’t see face to face on a regular basis, listening to them, asking about the issues they are facing, what it is working well for them, what’s not; gets extremely important.
8. Make actions based on their feedback
Just asking for feedback and doing nothing doesn’t work. Make sure you do listen to them but you also take visible actions on the most relevant points they share with you. Their opinions are important, make them feel that way.
9. Remember them. Recognise them.
It is very easy to “forget” about employees that work remotely. I have been in all hands calls at companies where the organizer forgot to invite remote employees. Many times. Too many. They are part of the team and need to feel it that way. It is also important to recognize their work in front of others.
10. Help them to be successful
Lead vs manage. No matter if the people who report to you are in the same office or 4.000 km away, you are not there to manage them, you are there to help them to be successful. If you hired the right person and you feel he or she isn’t productive or doesn’t do the job properly; this is probably your fault, not theirs. Look at how you are motivating them, ask questions, make sure they have access to all resources and information they need and make them feel part of a big objective.
Managing a remote team? It all starts with finding the right people and support them as much as you can to achieve common goals. How do you manage your team? It would be great to hear from you.