With the ongoing spread of COVID-19, some businesses have had to prevent employees from going to offices and/or shut down operations. Therefore, a number of companies have opted to have employees from home and run a remote team. Teleworking may be new for some brands. Nevertheless, there are some effective ways that companies can adapt to continue delivering results and drive sales in a work-from-home setup.
Managing a virtual team for over a decade, Forward Influence (previously known as Mom It Forward) has seen a number of benefits of a telecommuting arrangement. Additionally, our 10+ years of experience taught us how to run a remote team and succeed. In this post, we will share the advantages that working from home can bring and how your brand can thrive from overseeing a remote workforce.
Benefits of Running A Remote Team
Supervising a remote team can be challenging. Once mastered, businesses will get to enjoy the many benefits of teleworking. Here are some of the advantages that brands can gain through leading a virtual team.
You might think that working from home means more distractions which may result in less output. You might be right. However, interruptions do not always result in less productivity. In fact, an annual study done by FlexJobs showed that 65 percent of professionals believed to be more productive in a home office setup than in a traditional workspace.
Moreover, 74 percent of respondents thought that there were fewer distractions and 72 percent presumed there were lesser interruptions from co-workers when working remotely. In addition, another survey found that office workers have 37 minutes of unproductive time daily while remote workers only spent 27 minutes idling.
A work-from-home setup may also allow flexible and extended working hours. Furthermore, working-from-home means less commute time and more time to perform tasks. As a matter of fact, one research showed that virtual employees work 6-7 hours longer than office-based workers. As a result, a remote team can drive more results, increasing their productivity.
Increases Employee Retention
Flexibility is one of the important factors that affect employees’ decisions in working with a company. In the 2019 survey administered by FlexJobs, 30 percent of respondents admitted to quitting their jobs due to a lack of flexibility in work choices. Whereas, a remote work option resulted in flexibility as most employees are allowed to work with regards to their availability.
The survey also found that 80 percent of participants agreed to stay with a company longer if they were provided with flexible work options. Thus, a work-from-home setup may not only increase productivity but also employee loyalty and retention.
A physical office may provide a lot of overhead costs for the company, including rent, electricity, and water. Additionally, businesses are expected to provide facilities and equipment that will create a motivating working environment for employees. However, a full-time remote team or a work-from-home arrangement for a number of days will result in lower costs and lesser need for office space.
Builds Trust and Loyalty
Trust is vital in a teleworking organization. For instance, brands must trust their employees to perform their tasks without overseeing them on a daily basis that an office setup provides. In return, employees must trust companies that in a work-from-home arrangement, they have the autonomy to function in ways that suit them and still deliver outstanding work. Hence, when the expectations are met, trust and loyalty between a remote team and an employer will grow more which can eventually result in longer and profitable relationships.
7 Ways to Manage A Successful Remote Team
After discovering the various opportunities that a work-from-home arrangement can provide, companies must learn the key elements in creating an efficient virtual workforce. Thus, we present the seven beneficial ways on how to lead a remote team and thrive.
1. Use the Right Tools
Being connected and on the same page is vital in a remote environment. Therefore, brands must have the right tools to maintain connections among team members and to avoid misunderstandings. Here are some of our favorite tools to build and keep up internal communication.
Basecamp is a project management platform designed to help remote and traditional teams to be more productive and organized. As a result, team members can converse better even with fewer physical and visual meetings.
For example, our remote team uses Basecamp to build projects and create to-do lists so everyone is updated with current tasks and schedules. Additionally, the tool allows staff to save files in an organized manner for review and use of each member. Furthermore, we also use Basecamp to write down messages for clarifications, questions, and comments.
If you want to keep your remote team’s projects, files, and documents organized, Google Drive can be your best friend. The storage medium allows virtual employees to save, access and share files with each other.
In addition, Google Drive Enterprise does not only enable team members to optimize collaboration tools for creating and storing files but also utilize features to assign tasks and add comments for better communication.
Slack is a business chatroom for brands and their employees. Yet, for a remote team, it can serve as a virtual office for work-related and personal communications among team members.
Moreover, the platform aims to make conversations easier and more organized. For instance, Slack enables employees to create channels for grouping and categorizing messages. Your team can produce a public channel open for all members of the organization. On the other hand, private channels can be built to separate teams and projects.
As an example, we started to use Slack a few years ago specifically for our event division to unite multiple teams and ensure everyone was staying on the same page. Additionally, our team members also use Slack to send private and personal messages.
Similar to Slack, Google Hangouts is a communication software for the group and personal messages. In addition, because the platform is connected with the G Suite tools, Google Hangouts allow sending messages, hosting virtual meetings, and accessing or sharing of files to happen in one place.
- Video Tools
Video sharing platforms are essential communication tools for work-from-home arrangements. For example, we use Skype for personal discussions about projects and individual performances. Moreover, we utilize other video platforms such as Zoom and Google Hangouts Meet for group meetings and training.
2. Build Personal Connections with your Remote Team
Unlike traditional office setups, connecting personally in a telecommuting arrangement can be a challenge. However, similar to regular employees, developing personal relationships with your remote team is vital to improve communication and increase employee satisfaction. Therefore, brands must think of ways and helpful activities to build strong bonds among team members.
We establish relationships with our virtual team by creating meaningful bonding experiences online. As an example, we communicate personally with each member of our team to see how everyone is doing. In addition, we hold weekly conference calls not only to talk about projects and work updates but also to celebrate successes and important occasions. Furthermore, recognizing good performances and showing appreciation to employees through emails and chats helped us form stronger connections with our team.
One of the most important components of a successful work-from-home workspace is clear communication. Below are some suggestions that helped our remote team avoid miscommunication and make conversations uncomplicated.
- Make it Simple. To avoid confusion, we make sure that instructions and guidelines are easy to understand and follow. For instance, we use simple and direct words to communicate our direction and provide examples or sources that can guide our team in creating a specific task.
- Establish Expectations. To ensure that the management and team members are on the same page with performing assignments and following regulations, we set clear expectations. This includes how tasks should be completed and what company cultures should be upheld. If there are changes made to regulations and processes, we make certain to communicate them with our team.
- Set Deadlines. For time-sensitive tasks, setting a specific deadline is necessary to avoid delays. Additionally, time differences should be considered in setting deadlines, especially if remote staff and clients live across the world and have different time zones.
- Communicate Regularly. Constant communication is vital to make sure that instructions and processes were understood correctly. Therefore, you must check on team members regularly to see if they are meeting expectations on each project and daily tasks.
- Follow Up. Following up is necessary to ensure that directions and messages were received and understood clearly. This can be done by asking team members if they have questions right after the instruction was given or checking back on them after a certain amount of time.
4. Create an Organized Process for your Remote Team
Another key important factor that helped us thrive in a remote team setup is through creating and updating processes. In a work-from-home arrangement, structures are important. Thus, concise and clear processes can provide direction and organization that will help your team succeed.
To keep each of our team members productive, we created the following processes:
- Have an interactive to-do list of daily and weekly tasks of individuals through Basecamp.
- Maintain a Table of Contents of all files and documents saved in our team’s Google Drive for easy access to files when needed.
- Provide written instructions on how to accomplish specific tasks or processes.
- Offer copies and sample documents to use and guide team members in completing specific tasks.
5. Hold Team Members Accountable
One of the common challenges that can take place in managing a remote team is supervising employees without physical contact. Thankfully, there are many ways to virtually hold team members accountable.
For example, to know each team member’s accomplishments and meet performance goals, we implement the following accountability procedures:
- Have consistent communication pertaining to assigned tasks.
- Provide weekly tasks overviews and reports.
- Maintain daily prioritized tasks check-ins and check-outs.
- Require daily login of working hours.
6. Give Your Remote Team Autonomy
One of the common mistakes to avoid in running a virtual team is micromanagement. Due to a lack of daily physical supervision in a remote workforce, you might feel the need to set up strict rules and control employees’ every move. As a result, you may end up over-regulating your team, which may lead to employee dissatisfaction. Instead of micromanaging virtual staff, you will prosper more in a teleworking setup by providing more freedom and control to your team.
For example, we empower our remote team with autonomy by allowing each of our team members to have flexible hours, depending on their availability. Since everyone works differently and has different preferences, giving our employees a choice on what works best for them makes them more productive.
7. Provide Onboarding and Continuous Training
Another way to succeed in a remote setup is through proper employee training. With the lack of face-to-face daily management, your remote team may feel lost. However, if education is constantly provided to new and old employees, less daily supervision will not be a problem.
Among the coaching tools and processes that you can create for your team are:
- Offer training videos or Zoom recordings on how to perform a specific task.
- Host Zoom or Skype training calls.
- Provide written procedures and processes on how to accomplish tasks.
Wrap It All Up
Brands desiring to manage a remote team can enjoy the following benefits: enhanced productivity, employee retention, cost-effectivity, and employees’ trust and loyalty. Running a virtual team for the first time might not be easy. Yet, by following the suggestions above, you can build your business remotely and thrive.