Remote teams are the new black in the startup world. Teams scattered around the world, working from different countries on different time zones. Hiring a remote team could be to save money or to have access to employees who possess specialised skills. Mithun Chandra, founder of Duffl, a hybrid fashion rental marketplace, has used a remote team for more than six years and successfully delivered over 160 projects for clients across the world. The projects ranged from websites to complex systems and mobile applications. “It never hurts to have backup plans since things could go wrong easily. Get an expert to interview the candidate before the hire and make sure you get to know their motivations for working with you,” advises Mithun. “Make sure you are available to your team at all possible times. Provide an alternate number in case of emergencies. Most importantly, trust them to do their job” he adds.
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Here are some rules to keep in mind to follow the path of many companies like Duffl on how to create and run a successful remote team.
Thanks to perks like flexible working hours and a seemingly lighter workload, you may find many takers to join a remote team. This makes it important to hire carefully. You should hire self-motivated people who are team players to begin with. Make sure that their intentions of working for you are in the right place.
If the same set of tasks has been given to two designers in different cities across the world, make sure that both of them have a set procedure to follow in terms of quality and execution. This means there will be no confusion in future projects as the process is documented. Create checklists for each task and forward them to everyone involved as it makes it easy to delegate and collaborate.
Communication becomes all the more important when you don’t meet your employees in person and vice versa. There should be a feeling of oneness among co-workers. They should realise that they are working for a common cause. Quick responses to emails and other pressing issues can avoid untoward misunderstandings among team members.
To avoid miscommunications, it is important that each member of the team knows what is expected from them. Everyone should be aware what they are doing and why they are doing it. Explain how a team member’s contribution is going to impact the entire team’s output. This gives them a sense of belonging and adds meaning to their work.
People enjoy working remotely because there are no set timings and such flexibility suits them. If you let them work at their preferred hours with a clear set of goals and deadlines, you will get a good output. Most of us have tried to ‘act busy’ in our physical offices even though we might be slacking off. In a virtual team, you certainly would not be able to figure out their working hours, you can only see their final work. You are better off assessing the final work rather than counting the number of hours put in. Go-getters in your team usually revel in such circumstances while a poor hire can be easily identified by looking at the end result.
When it comes to leveraging the use of technology for your remote team, get the best that is available. You could use Skype, Join.me or Google Hangouts for screen sharing and video calls. Project management tools like Basecamp ensure that all work-related discussions happen without a glitch. Google Drive and Dropbox can be used for file sharing and Hubspot or Nutshell for marketing. Trello can be used to set up tasks for your team. Ensuring that you have the right tools will help control your company’s workflow, organise communication and maintain consistent project management.
An encouraging comment on one’s work at a meeting or on an email will surely lift the spirits of an employee. It is imperative that honest feedback is shared. If there is a shoddy piece of work done, let it be known that a better output was expected from the person. Teach them how they can improve on their work. Have individual performance review meetings every month over video with your team.
Have you faced problems when managing a remote team? If yes, how did you deal with them? Enlighten us in the comments section below.
(Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of YourStory.)