Yeah, so did I…in 1997.
Nowadays, there is no real reason for anybody to go to an office every day, or any day for that matter. With the rise of digital technology and globalization, it has become common for teams to collaborate remotely; that is, working with other team members who live in different cities, or even completely different parts of the world.
This is the beauty of the modern age.
Collaborating remotely certainly has its benefits. A whopping 91% of employees feel that they will get more work done remotely than if they were to do their work in the office, according to Ayers Management. Maybe one reason for this is because over half of remote employees interact with their supervisor daily, whereas regular employees only tend to check in a couple times a month. The stronger the communication, the better the results.
While working with a remote team can be a new and exciting shift in the workplace paradigm, it also comes with its own sets of challenges and obstacles. Time zone differences, technical difficulties such as Wi-Fi connection or lagging video chat, and lacking that unbeatable element of face-to-face conversation are just a few of the hindrances that sometimes get in the way of fluid collaboration.
Luckily, there are plenty of tools to help you avoid such problems. Here are my top tips for working with a remote team:
Hire smart: Because that special X-factor of face-to-face interaction is missing, you must be more particular about whom you hire. You won’t be able to walk over to a cubicle to check on an employee’s work, so you have to make a point to hire people who:
- You can trust, and
- Have a proven track record of being able to work independently
Clearly, employees who need to be micromanaged will not be right for this type of job; instead, you will need people on your team who can rock a deadline, and those who can independently find solutions without much direction.
Aside from trust, the other key is communication. You need to hire people who communicate well, who will respond in a timely fashion to emails and texts, and who ask questions and raise concerns without needing to be prompted. These are the people who will help you achieve success.
Get techy: What has made this work revolution possible are advancements in technology, so get your geek on and embrace it.
- Use cloud-based chat software. For example, Microsoft 365 with Teams allows you to work collaboratively, in real time. Other good collaboration tools include Basecamp and Google Docs.
- Video chat. When working remotely, video chatting is another secret ingredient to success. Not only do video chats help you stay connected, but it is also an essential tool for working together and bouncing ideas off one another. Skype, FaceTime, and Google+ chats are your best options.
Be available: Even though managing a remote team might make it easier for you to go about your day-to-day routine, it is vital that you remain available to your employees as much as needed. Thorough and consistent communication is one of the most important factors in establishing a successful remote team, so don’t underestimate the value of what it means for an employee to be able to shoot you a text or email whenever needed.
- As a rule, it is a good idea to check in with your team on a regular basis, probably daily
- Schedule times to talk with each team member individually
It can sometimes be hard to keep up with the rapid changes in the workplace, but working remotely might be one you should embrace. According to Ayers Management, 10.6% of employees who work remotely report feeling more valued at work, and in general report a 7% increased rate of happiness at work.
A happy employee almost always makes for truly excellent business.
About Steve Strauss
Steven D. Strauss is one of the world's leading experts on small business and is a lawyer, writer, and speaker. The senior small business columnist for USA Today, his Ask an Expert column is one of the most highly-syndicated business columns in the country. He is the best-selling author of 17 books, including his latest, The Small Business Bible, now out in a completely updated third edition. You can also listen to his weekly podcast, Small Business Success.© Steven D. Strauss.
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