Thanks to advanced technology – and awesome systemization tools – your business isn’t bound by local employees. You can employ the talents of a graphic design artist in Austria, team up with a writer in Hawaii, and hand it all over to your virtual assistant who’s based out of Key West. With today’s communication tools, a remote team doesn’t have to be faceless. There are, however, unique challenges that come with running an operation with team members across the country (or the world).
Most employers who run a remote team are challenged with the same issues that surface in different ways:
- Keeping workers motivated
- Maintaining open communication
- Being sensitive to a multi-cultural team: Knowing the challenges will help you better prepare for a growing remote team. Here are our rules to live by when your office spans 2,000 miles.
Keep the convo neutral
A joke or cliché that you give little pause to, may come off as offensive or rude to a member of your remote team. By keeping the conversation clear with neutral language, you’ll avoid miscommunication or mistakenly offending a team member. To keep the conversation clear, try:
- Video chat: Skype or Facetime, if time differences allow, will help incorporate body language for a clearer picture of what you’re saying.
- Monitor your tone: Emails are especially dangerous when it comes to sending the wrong tone. Be mindful of your words, punctuation, and closure to build a friendly, professional tone.
Take your time: If a text, voice mail, or email upsets you, take a moment before responding. It may be that you misread or misunderstood the message, and responding in frustration only make matters worse.
Respect the work day
Work-from-home warriors tend to blur the lines of the work day and personal life. Be cautious that you don’t put that pressure on your remote team. Be aware of their work hours, especially if they’re in a different time zone, and learn to curb your communication beyond those hours. Messenger tools like Slack and Basecamp are great for keeping tasks on schedule, but shouldn’t be used to continue the conversation after-hours.
Pro Tip: Use Every Time Zone as a way to track the overlapping work hours amongst your remote team members.
While you must be respectful of your team’s workday, it’s crucial to set expectations early. Guidelines for communication, productivity, teamwork and accountability build expectations for your team. Some guidelines to implement:
- Availability: Whether your team members work part-time, full-time, or contract hours, it should be clear which days of the week they should be available.
- How to communicate: Decide whether video conferencing, email, text message or a project management tool will be the main form of communication for your team.
- Meetings: Decide when you will hold your team meetings. Make sure everyone is available at the desired time and communicate the platform the team will use to meet.
- Email response: What is the expectation for a timely email response for your team? Five hours? One day? Set the expectation for email responses so projects don’t fall through the cracks.
Systemization will help hold your remote team together, especially when you are juggling multiple projects. As a business owner and leader, you want your team to be empowered to make decisions and take control of their tasks without you checking in. By implementing systems to help manage tasks, to-do lists, and remind you when it’s time to reorder your favorite K-cups, you’ll keep the team (and business) running smoothly. Here are our favorite systemization tools:
- Slack: Communicate with your team and your client’s team from anywhere and actually keep the conversation organized with Slack.
- Asana: Fit all the pieces of a project together and rearrange them when needed so that you can still meet your deadlines.
- Evernote: This is your digital notebook. Reduce the need for paper by using Evernote to make lists, take notes, or jot down ideas.
Offer positive feedback
More than two-thirds of employees say they would work harder if they felt their efforts were better recognized. Don’t underestimate the power of positivity. When you offer your employees encouragement through a positive review, thank you note, or a phone call, you keep the team motivated to work diligently.
Managing a remote team presents a unique atmosphere but the benefits of not limiting your talent pool can build a better business. Use our tips to advance your remote team and comment below with the tips we’ve missed to make a remote work environment engaging and productive.
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