When you’re looking to build your workforce, you want to hire the best people you can find. The greater the talent you can recruit, the more you’ll get for your earnings and the faster your business will grow.
But that search used to come with a powerful limit: you could only hire the best people you could find within a small area near your office. A software developer with exactly the experience you need or a copywriter with a style that’s perfect for your business is of no use if they’re a long commute away. Relocation is expensive and risky.
That means you’re fishing in a small pond—and if that pond is a long way from cities or creative hubs, it might not contain the fish you need.
The solution has come in the form of remote work. When a team member needs nothing more than a computer and an Internet connection to perform their tasks and submit their work, they don’t need to be in an office down the hall. They can be on the other side of the country, or even in a different country altogether, and still provide the benefits of their skill and talent.
According to one study, remote working has grown by 44 percent over the last five years. Around 4.3 million people in the U.S. work from home at least half the time, and 76 percent of respondents said that they wanted to telecommute all the time. Remote workers get a flexible schedule and save commuting time; companies get to hire the best people anywhere in the world and enjoy a 25 percent lower turnover.
But remote working isn’t like a more typical in-office environment. The work is performed without a boss present to check work or answer questions. There are no watercooler chats or colleagues to bounce ideas off. And the work hours are whatever the team member wants to create to suit their lifestyle.
Find the Right People
The first challenge in building a remote team is hiring the right people.
Remote workers need the right skills you’re looking for to complete their tasks but they also need to self-manage. They need to be self-motivated, responsible and dedicated. They need to have the mindset of entrepreneurs running their own businesses, even when that business only has one customer and pays them a salary.
That’s why a trial period is important to make sure not just that they can do the job but that they can be relied upon to do it—and to do it on time consistently and to be available for communications.
Agree on Collaboration Tools
As the team grows, you’ll also need to decide how you’re going to work together. Every office is different, and every worker has their own preference. Some might prefer to use Word, others Google Docs. Some might be used to uploading their files to Dropbox, others to Microsoft’s OneDrive.
Lisette Sutherland, author of Work Together Anywhere: A Handbook on Working Remotely—Successfully—for Individuals, Teams, and Managers, recommends giving each remote team member an agreement that lists the tools they prefer to use for each type of work and asking how they like to communicate. Team members can say whether they prefer to send quick messages through a chat application like Slack or just use email. They can state how quickly they tend to reply and how often they like to set up a video conference, and which video conferencing software they prefer to use.
Each team member will have their preference so it will then be up to the team leader or the employer to review their suggestions and lay out the rules everyone will follow. No one will end up with all their preferences but everyone will understand how the team will work together.
You can also set up times to meet in person. Few things help more to bond a long-term team than the ability to occasionally get together and swap ideas. Even if it only happens once or twice a year at a conference, those meetings can help to smooth out work for the year ahead.
A remote team is now too valuable a benefit to reject because it’s untraditional. Businesses as large as Basecamp, Automattic, and MySQL are now entirely virtual or close to it. It works, and it means that you can build a successful business with the best team even if you live somewhere remote.
About Joel Comm
As an Internet pioneer, Joel has been creating profitable websites, software, products, and helping entrepreneurs succeed since 1995. He has been at the frontlines of live video online since 2008 and has a deep expertise in using tools such as Facebook Live, Periscope, Instagram or Snapchat to broadcast a clearly defined message to a receptive audience or leveraging the power of webinar and meeting technologies.
Joel is a New York Times best-selling author of 15 books, including “The AdSense Code,” “Click Here to Order: Stories from the World’s Most Successful Entrepreneurs,” “KaChing: How to Run an Online Business that Pays and Pays and Twitter Power 3.0.” He is Co-Host of The Bad Crypto Podcast one of the top crypto-related shows in the world and has spoken before thousands of people around the world and seeks to inspire, equip and entertain.
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