Owning any type of company brings challenges and rewards related to the specifics of the business.
For example, if your business is primarily online, then you need not be restricted to the workforce in your geographical area.
You can build a remote team by finding the ideal candidates from the country, or even around the world.
Remote work continues to trend upward, with 2014 posting a 26% increase in open remote job postings over 2013 – Fortune.com
These professionals will be more suited to the task than you would find if you limit yourself to your city or the surrounding area for potential employees.
The trends are clear, for example: Kaplan allows about 85 percent of its workforce to work remotely, a move that has occurred in recent years.
Big companies like Aetna, over 31 percent of its employees engage in telework, and it is embedded into Aetna’s HR policies and practices.
As with everything else, hiring and managing remote team members takes a new strategy from what works in traditional employment structures.
However, when you are able to assemble and manage the right team for your business, you are sure to see amazing benefits take place.
You need to have open communication with potential and current employees, as they need to have with each other.
These nine tips will assist you in assembling and managing your remote, outsourced teams:
One: Seek Out Candidates with the Right Characteristics for the Available Position
There are two aspects of characteristics that you need to determine prior to posting an available position.
The first is related to online workers in general.
The second to the position itself.
Those working on remote teams must be self-starters.
Additionally, they need to have the confidence to move forward on their own recogntion and a willingness to take feedback in order to improve.
Your team members all need good communication skills, particularly across the various platforms you plan to use.
The written word, and possibly comfortable in video chat.
Or even making videos is something that you may need from your team members. If so, include this information in the job description.
The other aspect will regard the specific tasks you need the person to fulfill for your company.
Find out what type of expertise is appropriate for your position, and research what similar companies are offering.
Make sure to offer a competitive wage, though you may be able to save a bit because the person does not have to commute to and from work each day.
Two: Develop Hiring Practices Suited to Your Needs from Remote Team Members
There are several websites where you can post job descriptions with the criteria mentioned.
However, you will need a way to filter through the applicants.
Ideally, you will have developed hiring practices that allow you to select an applicant who fits in well with your company and your current team members.
One idea is to have the person work on a trial basis within a smaller project, and then decide if you wish to offer them a permanent position on your staff. You may be able to afford several candidates at the same time, give a similar “test” and award the job to the “winner”.
Often, those with existing remote work experience begin more productively, though those new to telecommuting can pick up the ropes quickly, if the work is right for them and with the right support structure in place.
Three: Choose Time or Productivity in Goal Setting and Management
You will need to decide how you are going to judge productivity in the workforce. You can go with a time based option, or one based on goals (project based).
This will depend upon your managerial style and needs of the firm.
Affordable software will allow you to remotely track the working hours of your remote teams if you are paying them by the hour.
However, your business style and structure may do better with a “by the job” type of arrangement.
This requires an increased hands-on approach, which will allow you to see how your workers productivity is on a regular, possibly even daily, basis.
Four: Create a “Water Cooler”
One of the drawbacks to remote teams is that it can be difficult for team members to feel connected with each other.
This can lead to communication troubles that damage your company and employee morale.
Set up a chat room somewhere that all of your workers can log into and share non-work related information.
While this may seem unnecessary, being able to bond over silly memes, new babies in the family, and other non-work related communication can help to reduce stress at work.
And, it will help your employees to feel like a team instead of an isolated person at a desk in the corner of their home or remote office.
Five: Utilize Multiple Forms of Communication
The Internet offers various forms of communication for team members, and you should use these.
Chat programs are great for short, quick messages, and are more personal than e-mail. You can also use video chat when, particularly when giving performance reviews.
If you need to present a short lecture to the entire team, but do not need them to all respond immediately, you can create a video, and let them watch and respond during their next shift. Videos are great training vehicles and is a must.
You may even consider using these in conjunction with other data, such as infographics, in your video presentations.
Six: Schedule Regular Meetings to Accommodate All Worker Time Zones
One of the reasons that people choose remote positions is freedom in scheduling their days and weeks.
Be up front during the hiring process about the regularity of staff meetings, and ask what days and times are restricted for the new hire.
Your employees may live in multiple time zones, and have vastly different schedules. Attempt to accommodate them all. If in countries where Internet can be spotty (Philippines) during rain seasons or special holiday events, manage their (and your clients) expectations.
Seven: Have a Clear Hierarchy and Systems in Place
If you are going to have more than one person besides you on your team, the exact position of the relationship between employees should be explicitly stated.
In the event of your unavailability, the responsibilities of the rest of the team, and who has authority needs to be clear, to everyone.
Developing these simple guidelines will allow your team members to feel more comfortable, which is a plus for everyone!
Additionally, you need to have some standardized procedure for task completion. It is unfair to assume that everyone will work it out among themselves.
Should you lose an employee, or a contractor – a new one needs to have guidelines regarding the position that will allow for a smoother transition, saving you time, money and stress.
Eight: Wisely Pick Your Tools for Team Sharing
There are all types of ways that you can improve communications between team members.
Various apps and tools can allow one person to show their screen to others, so that they can show other team members, rather than just telling them.
This is a far more effective means of communicating.
Likewise, you will need to decide how you want documents and spreadsheets to be shared between team members.
There are various tools out there, with options including whether or not it can be edited by those who view it. It’s easy to set up via roles and access levels.
Nine: Pen a Weekly Company Newsletter
One way to really keep your eye on what is going on, and give credit where credit is due, is to send out a weekly, or even biweekly newsletter.
Take a few minutes to note each member, and what they have contributed to the team during the week being discussed.
You may want to do this as a video, or an email.
Consider adding some humor, if appropriate.
Smooth company operations demand excellent communication and monitoring to ensure that everyone is staying on task, and that their needs are being fulfilled, such as flexibility in scheduling, which is common for telecommuting jobs.
By searching in the right places, and giving employees a “trial run” on a smaller project, you can see if an individual is a good fit for your existing team before offering them a full-time, or permanent position.
Use tracking devices and develop the company culture through positive communication means and regularly scheduled team meetings.
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