What is a remote team?
A remote team is a group of people that work together but are geographically dispersed. For those who are new to the world of working-from-home, these teams are usually built from scratch, meaning you’ll have to look/hire each of the team members then introduce them to each other online. On the contrary, remote teams can also be built by gradually transitioning a physical team that works together in an office, something that’s happened more commonly when the COVID-19 pandemic hit.
A lot of people are new to building their own remote teams, at a time when they are more essential than ever, we’ve come up with five helpful ways on how to get started on it.
1. Figure out communication first
It’s hard for a remote team to maintain a strong relationship since there’s no physical interaction. That’s why establishing good communication within the team is crucial. Plan out mandatory, scheduled Zoom meetings in advance. Make sure everyone in the meeting participates. We recommend a “round robin” approach, so that everyone gets a chance to speak. Good communication is the first step in developing relationships and building trust in the team. If two people on your team haven’t communicated in a while, have them hop into a 1 on 1.
2. Continue to invest in your team
After building a remote team, it’s especially important that you continue to invest in your team. Find out what each member is bottlenecked on and try to solve their problem specifically. You may not be as aware of the problems each team member is facing, since they are not going to be in an office with you. You’ll need to dig for problems yourself and solve them directly.
For example, if a team member is spending hours a day on a repetitive task, like entering data into a spreadsheet, can you purchase an app or hire someone (using a platform like Upwork or Magic) to take the task off their plate? Would any of your team members benefit from 1 on 1 coaching or taking a class to advance their skills? Investing more resources into a lean, effective remote team is often more effective than simply hiring more full time employees.
3. Encourage teamwork
Encourage teamwork instead of having the members work on a task individually. This is especially important because being remote is solitary by default. You need to really push people working together and make sure it happens. Forcing people to work together also helps build good working relationships between team members. Once you’ve forced the connection, it should continue to happen organically without your pressure.
4. Pick your apps carefully
There’s a lot of online tools that can be used to communicate with and manage your remote team. Slack, Trello, Asana, Zoom, G Suite, and many more can be helpful to your team. It’s really a matter of picking which apps your team uses and sticking with it. You don’t want to waste time shuffling between apps and you don’t want your team spread out between different apps. For example, you don’t want some of your team messaging over WhatsApp and some of your team messaging over Slack. Pick the apps your team uses, and get everyone on the same page.
5. Enforce a work-life balance
It’s easy to be “always on” if you’re working with a remote team. Try to establish boundaries. For example, if your team takes weekends off, don’t send an request Saturday evening and expect it done Sunday. If someone needs to take a break, let them if possible, and don’t shame them or ask them to keep Slack open.