Managing employees in the office and across the country can be stressful for any manager. Building a remote team that works when and where they feel most creative and safe can empower you and your employees. If you’re struggling with with this remote work thing, keep reading for advice that will help you craft a fantastic team, no matter where they work.
1) Figure Out What A Remote Workforce Means To Your Team
First, you need to figure out what a distributed workforce means to your team.
What do you expect from your in-house employees? Can they spend most of their time working remotely, or will they need to spend most of their time in the office? Can they relocate easily? What happens to their current benefits or pay when they move?
For remote employees, where do you want them located? Are you looking to branch out and find talent all over the country or the world? Do you want to keep remote employees in your state or time zone?
Understanding what a distributed model looks like for you is crucial. You don’t want to have so many people scattered around the world that having an office becomes a money pit (unless your ultimate goal is to get rid of your office.)
One of the best things you can do is talk with your current employees. What are their thoughts on creating a distributed workforce? Should your company leave their office for a remote-first experience? Answer all these questions before you decide to add remote employees to the roster.
2) Make Sure Remote Workers Are Just As Invested As Office Workers
Creating a distributed workforce opens your company up to a world of possibilities. You’ll be able to utilize a pool of untapped talent that cares about your company and your mission.
Remote employees won’t automatically care or understand your mission, though. As an employer, you have to take the initiative and hire employees who are just as invested as your in-house staff.
To do this, you must ask the right questions when vetting new talent. You might not see these employees in person before hiring them, so make sure you use video to get the best feel for potential employees during interviews.
Here are some potential interview questions:
- What compelled you to apply for this position?
- Our company values are ____, which of those values do you resonate most with? Why?
- What would you seek to accomplish during your first 90 days in this role?
- Where do you see yourself a year from now? What do you hope to accomplish?
- What do you know about this company? How did you find out about us?
3) Find A Similar Schedule
Working across time zones can feel like an impossible challenge for some teams.
First, we need to establish an important rule, “comprise happens on all sides.”
Sometimes your team in the office will have to wake up early, sometimes distributed workers will need to stay a bit later than they hoped.
If you can, try to find the most similar times to come together. After you define the best hours to have a meeting, schedule your most important team meetings during those times. Encourage everyone to consider time zones when planning meetings with distributed workers.
For meetings that need to be outside of typical business hours for office or distributed workers, encourage employees to take turns. Some meetings will be scheduled for in-house employees, and some will be scheduled for distributed employees.
4) Utilize The Right Technology
Creating the right technology stack can make or break remote and distributed teams. Here are a few ideas to help you pick the right software for your distributed team.
- Slack: Slack is a messaging tool for companies of all sizes. Slack is a great way to streamline communication because you can message the company (or different teams) in various Slack channels or send direct messages to people you want to work with one-on-one.
- Zoom: Slack is great for texting and easy conversations. If you need to have a difficult conversation or hold a team meeting, using a video conferencing tool like Zoom is the best way to communicate.
- Google Drive: Sharing files and information isn’t easy when you work remotely. Using a tool like Google Drive can help you share information, collaborate on important documents and presentations, and so much more.
- Asana/Trello: If you want to have a distributed team, you need some way to keep everyone on the same page. Using a project management tool like Asana or Trello will help you showcase all the progress you’re making on your weekly goals.
5) Maintain Consistent Benefits Across Teams
If you have an office space, you might have a few different in-house benefits that are part of coming into the office, like catered lunches or free coffee. Your distributed workforce will not have access to these benefits, unfortunately.
If you allow in-house employees to work remotely, you cannot use remote work as a real perk. You need to find a way to balance the perks you offer office workers and remote workers.
Here are some exciting perks for remote workers:
- Home office stipend: Remote employees need a fun place to work. Offer a home office stipend they can use to pay for things like a nice desk, office chair, decor, and more.
- Gym memberships: Working out and staying healthy is a must. Help your remote employees stay healthy by offering a gym membership or a subscription for online workout classes.
- Meal delivery kits: If you often cater lunch in the office, consider getting your remote employees a gift card to a service like HelloFresh or Freshly.
- Home bill stipends: Remote employees use way more electricity, internet, water, etc. Help your employees with their bigger bills by compensating them for some of these expenses.
- Nectar Peer Recognition And Rewards: Use a system like Nectar to deliver excellent recognition and rewards to your distributed and in-house team. Peer recognition is essential to building great relationships with in-house and distributed staff members.
6) Find Ways To Make Your Remote Team Feel Like Part Of The Team
As a team leader, your goal is to make everyone feel like they are a part of the team. If remote or distributed employees feel less than, your remote employees won’t feel well cared for. Do you show favoritism toward in-house employees (even if you don’t mean to?) Think about how you treat everyone on your roster, so your employees can feel valued and appreciated.
Here are some simple ways to make your employees feel appreciated and included:
- Check-in with your distributed team regularly to make sure that they have everything they need.
- Help build great relationships between your in-house staff and distributed workers.
- Make sure you celebrate your remote employees’ work anniversaries, birthdays, etc. Make them truly special!
- Advocate for remote workers when it comes time to negotiate things like raises, home office stipends, etc.
- Treat remote workers like employees and not contractors or freelancers.
7) Bring Employees Together Regularly
If possible, your goal should be to bring everyone together as often as possible. Many companies with distributed workforces try to get their employees together at least a few times a year. As your company expands, that might be challenging to accomplish, though.
There are a couple of ways you can think about this: bringing the entire company together vs. bringing individual departments together.
Think about how often you want to bring employees together and what the cost of that will be. Retreats don’t have to be extravagant. You don’t need to meet each other in Hawaii or some other pricey destination.
Going from an in-office staff to a fully remote team is tough for many employers. Growing your staff and reaching out for new talent is admirable and will ultimately help you create the team you need to take your product or service to the next level. Following the advice in today’s article will help you build a remote team that feels supported and included.