Recent circumstances may have pushed us all towards working from home, whether we liked it or not.
But as we move towards that ever-elusive ‘new normal’, for many remote working is becoming less of an enforced must and more of a chosen preference.
Now, as a business owner, the thought of having a team spread wide across the country that you rarely (if ever) see in person might seem totally alien. But, if you want to attract the best talent and build an amazing team it might be something you’re going to have to embrace.
Read on to discover the highs and lows that come with building a workforce that works remotely, as well as our top tips on making it work for everyone involved.
The Challenges of Remote Working
Opening your business up to remote workers can completely transform how you operate as a company. Think about it, previously the shackles of a physical office has limited your recruitment pool to what, a 15-mile radius? Remove this geographical barrier and all of a sudden you’ve got a national, if not international, stream of candidates that you can start to fish from.
However, let’s take off those rose-tinted glasses for a minute and think about the real logistics. Some people just aren’t cut out for working from home. A remote team needs to be made up of reliable, hardworking and trustworthy individuals. They’ll be responsible for managing their own time and workloads – without any eagle-eyed managers looking over their shoulders.
It can also be extremely isolating. Without the day to day socialisation that comes with sitting around a desk and partaking in everyday chit-chat working from home can be a lonely place.
That being said, in our opinion the pros can easily outweigh the cons – if you manage things properly.
5 Steps to Build a Dream (Remote) Team
1. Have a Clear Working Structure
If we haven’t already got the point across, remote working is a completely different ball game to working in an office. This means you’re going to have to have a bit of a rethink about how you do things to work best for your business and your employees. Will everyone be working from home, or just certain teams and individuals? How often, if ever, do you want to get together face to face? Are you going to stick to a standard 9 to 5, Monday to Friday or offer a bit more flexibility? These are all questions you need to have answers to before you set out bringing on remote workers. Having your expectations pre- determined, and communicating them clearly to everyone from the offset will avoid any potential misunderstandings down the line.
2. Consider How You Recruit
We’ve mentioned that remote working won’t work for everyone, so make sure you keep an eye out for certain traits if you’re considering hiring someone for an off-site role.
Team members that work away from the office automatically need to be much more autonomous, there’s a lower level of supervision and less of a support system than you’d find in a traditional work environment.
So what does this mean for you? Well, bear in mind the extra need for discipline and reliability. When you’re first interviewing potential candidates, look out for how good their communication skills are and even the speed with which they respond to you – these are both non-negotiables for a remote team member.
It might also be worth re-evaluating the level of skill and expertise you’re looking for. We’ve already mentioned that they’ll have less support available from the off-set, so someone who’s already got an extensive set of skills behind them may end up being a better fit. This might end up changing the job role you’re advertising for completely.
3. Have a Crystal Clear Onboarding Process
The way you welcome a new remote worker is not only important for them, but your whole existing team. This means you need to be organised. Have an onboarding checklist, and stick to it.
Any training handbooks or guides that you can provide will prove to be invaluable, remember – you or your team leaders won’t just be on hand to answer any quick questions.
Similarly, think about the tools and equipment you might need that you hadn’t before. This includes practical bits – like laptops, internet access and phones – as well as supportive materials, apps and software and self-directed learning resources.
You might find that onboarding a remote team member takes a bit longer than before, and that’s to be expected. So, be patient and considerate – check in regularly and set regular, attainable and measurable goals to ensure they’re on the right path.
4. Stay Engaged & Connected
This is one of the biggest challenges that comes with remote working. It’s super important to keep your team connected and working together despite potentially large physical and time differences. There are a number of ways you can do this. Streamlined communication tools like Slack or Teams have proven extremely popular in the post-COVID workplace, as have project management platforms like Trello or monday.com. Plus, who could forget the tried and trusted video call. Weekly team meetings to round off the week, talk over upcoming projects and even just have a bit of banter will do wonders for motivation and work ethic. It might feel like hard work, but it is so very necessary. Just because you’re working on your own doesn’t mean you should be working alone.
5. Communicate, Communicate & Communicate Some More!
We said it three times, because that’s how important it is.
Think someone’s done a good job? Tell them. Think something needs to be prioritised more than it is? Let people know. Feeling disappointed about something? Air it.
There are little nuances that come with face to face communications that show people how you’re feeling about something. When you’re not working in person this can get lost.
Communicate as much as you can, as clearly as you can with as little room for interpretation as possible. Lead by example. If your team can see you doing it, they’ll follow. If you and your team aren’t talking to each other, you’re not the only one who’s going to feel frustrated.
We’ll be honest, we’ve probably only scratched the surface here.
Remote working is a whole new world to the one we’re used to – but it could revolutionise your business for the better.
As with any change you’re making in your business, it’ll need to be managed properly. Change management can be extremely challenging in any capacity, so if you want to speak with an expert then lucky you – you’re already in the right place.
Find out how we can help with any level of change in your business by dropping an email through to email@example.com.