How to Make Your Remote Workforce Work (For Everyone)
If your employees don't need to be on location, hiring people to work remotely can be a great option for small businesses. For one, you have a much bigger pools of workers to choose from.
But there's an art to managing people who work remotely. You'll need to make sure they have everything they need to succeed. Otherwise, they'll quickly move on to new opportunities.
We'll take a look at some of the pitfalls and best practices of working with remote teams.
3 Things That Will Derail the Working Relationship
There are a few things that will quickly make your relationship with remote workers go off the rails:
- Lack of trust. Some employers don't trust that remote workers are really working when they're not in the office. However, research shows that remote workers are often more productive than people working on location.
- Keeping people out of the loop. One downside of working remotely is that you may miss out on in-person meetings and casual conversations at the water cooler. If you don't keep everyone informed, remote workers will feel isolated and ill-equipped to contribute.
- Getting hung up on 9 to 5. Remote workers prize flexibility — a key reason for taking a remote job. Demanding they clock in and clock out at set times will be a deal breaker for many. But give them flexibility and they will bend over backwards to deliver for you, often on short notice.
5 Ways to Treat Remote Workers Right
Here are five best practices for getting the most out of remote workers — and keeping them happy.
1. Make communication inclusive
Communication is central to good team work, so if you're working with a fully or partly remote team, it's one of the most important issues to sort out.
Use a team communication tool like Slack or Microsoft Teams to ensure that everyone knows what's going on. These tools let you set up chat channels for business areas and projects. You can even have an off-topic thread where people can have those water cooler chats they'd have in the office.
Also give everyone guidance on how to communicate where, so everyone is on the same page.
2. Consolidate documentation and planning.
You also should have a dedicated tool for planning and documenting what's happening in the company.
3. Host short online meetings
For remote teams, a daily or weekly stand-up meeting can do wonders to help people feel connected. In online video meetings, you can put names to faces, and get a feel for personalities. Each team leader can take a couple of minutes to report achievements for the past week and to set priorities for the next. But keep it short — 30 minutes at most — so people can get back to work quickly.
Try to schedule those meetings at a time that works for most time zones.
4. Host retreats to deepen relationships.
When your team isn't too spread out, it can be helpful to get everyone together in the same place for some face-to-face interaction at least once a year.
That's because when you work in an office, those random conversations can spark great ideas and strengthen relationships. A company retreat achieves the same thing for remote teams. Plus,
people who don't normally work together can collaborate on projects, presentations, and more. This helps glue the team together during the rest of the year when there's no face-to-face contact.
5. Be flexible
People have different situations and priorities, and work needs to fit into their lives so they can manage it all the best they can. As long as your workers meet the deadline, why should it matter whether they do it at 2pm or 2am? Offer that flexibility and your remote workforce will be productive and happy to stick around.