January 2, 2020 by John Herrington in Agency

Managing Remote Teams

Data collected from 195,600 U.S. employees, more than 31 million respondents, and insight from leading Fortune 1000 companies in Gallup’s State of the American Workplace report indicates that engagement climbs when employees spend some time working remotely. The perfect ratio for this engagement boost is spending 60% to less than 80% of their workweek — or 3-4 out of 5 days — working off-site.

It’s safe to say the work-from-anywhere lifestyle is here to stay. And there’s a lot of reasons why: the ability to cast your net wider and find the best people for your team, the cost-effectiveness of not operating an office, the flexibility to travel and not be confined to location boundaries, the ability for your crew to work when and where they are the most productive, the fact that every single person in the world hates cubicles and fluorescent lighting…the list goes on.

Here are six ways to thrive as a remote team.

1. Hire based on mission and values

A bright shiny resume does not a good employee make.  Hiring a great employee goes beyond finding someone that’s smart, talented, and hard-working. You need to find people that align with your core values. What is your company’s mission? Take some time during the interview process to articulate this and get a feel for how much a candidate supports that. What are your core values? Tenacity? Collaboration? Resourcefulness? Belief? Loyalty? Ask them for instances where they have displayed those values.

The best way to encourage retention and inspire your remote team to give it their all every single day is by engaging a sense of purpose within them. At the core of all they do, they need to share your values, and they need to be sold into the mission of the company. If they don’t, they probably will not thrive in the role.

2. Set Clear Expectations

Setting clear expectations from the very beginning is key. When your team knows what is expected of them they are empowered to deliver. A unique challenge to remote workspaces is the inability to read subtext, facial expressions, body language….you don’t get that. Your communication has to be clear and direct, in order to avoid misunderstandings in the long run.

What’s your expectation on how you’ll communicate and how often? How soon do you expect a response? When do you expect a project to get completed? What hours do you want your team to be available during the day?

3. Build Trust by Balancing Accessibility and Communication

Key Word: Balance. Remote communication in most cases goes one of two ways: the constant ding of notifications, emails, Facebook messages, texts, phone calls. Or, it’s radio silence, you wondering if they are just hanging out, and them wondering if they are even still employed. None of these options are sustainable.

Agree on a timeframe for responses. This helps bring balance and peace of mind. For example utilizing the “Virtual Nod”, where contractors are expected to send a response affirming they received the message and giving an ETA on project completion within 2 hours. This gives a decent window of opportunity allowing them to not just shoot off an inaccurate answer, but reply when it’s most convenient and when they have all the information they need in hand.

If your team is working on a project that’s highly collaborative, have set standing meetings. It could be a 15-minute touch base in the morning and then a call later in the afternoon. 

The more you can rely on each other’s accessibility, the more trust you can create within your team.

4. Utilize Available Tools

There are so many great tools and apps that make managing a remote workforce easier. Check out this article for an in-depth look at some of our favorites.

5. Create opportunities for team connection, publicly celebrate wins e.g weekly team appreciation shoutouts

Despite the stereotype, the 21st generation remote employee is not a recluse who just wants to be secluded on an island by themselves. Humans crave connection, and an easy way to encourage engagement within your company is to provide ways to connect. 

Publicly celebrate wins, and create opportunities for your team members to acknowledge each other. This not only shows appreciation for a job well done but also inspires everyone to go after greatness, because, let’s face it, we all like shiny medals.

6. Set and measure goals

If you’re hiring by your values, you should also make sure you’re living by them. Like we said before, alignment with your core values is critical to the long-term success of each team member and the company at large. It also gives your team a framework through which they can measure their own success and ask for feedback.

It’s important to have conversations and regular reviews; monthly, quarterly, annually…whatever cadence works best for your industry. Key questions to ask: what are 3 things you can accomplish each quarter to drive the company forward? How have you exemplified our core values?

These conversations help you course-correct and catch problems before they avalanche.

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