There are numerous advantages to running a business with a remote workforce. Without a physical office, startup costs and overhead are significantly lowered. You aren't limited to hiring locally, so you have a much better chance at attracting top talent. And increased employee autonomy typically increases job satisfaction, which can boost productivity and morale, while lowering turnover.
But running a remote company comes with its own unique set of challenges. This is especially true when it comes to managing your team and keeping them engaged and motivated. Management strategies that are effective in an office setting often don't translate to a remote environment, where you must strike a balance between an individual worker's independence and your team's overall cohesion.
Here are three key strategies to enhance your ability to successfully lead and manage a remote workforce.
Communication is key
Since everyone is working in different places, facilitating communication among your team should be a top priority. Fortunately, today's technology makes staying in touch with your remote workforce easier than ever. While email and phone calls are still essential, video chat and messaging platforms take remote communication to the next level.
Face-to-face interaction—whether one-on-one or in a group—offers the most connectivity, so make videoconferencing a central aspect of your company's communication process. Zoom is a popular video-chat platform that not only allows you to interact face to face, but it also facilitates collaboration by allowing chat participants to share their individual computer screens with the entire team.
Slack is another online tool that can serve as the main hub for team's daily communications. Slack's versatile instant-messaging system brings your team and conversations together in one place and allows you to share images, documents, and other files directly in chat. You can organize team discussions into different channels, allowing you to tailor communications by topic or department.
What's more, you can build a sense of community with Slack by creating non-work channels, where your team can get to know one another and socialize.
Foster authentic connections
Communication is vital, but your team will only establish genuine connections if communication is regular and meaningful. While remote workers don't need constant hand-holding, it's easy to feel isolated and disconnected if there isn't consistent communication among your team.
Holding weekly team meetings via video chat not only allows you to regularly discuss company goals and progress, but it also allows remote workers to gather together, which fosters a sense of belonging and camaraderie. Encourage your team to actively participate in meetings by seeking their feedback, so they feel like they're part of the company's overall direction and decision making.
In addition to weekly meetings with the entire team, consider scheduling regular “check-ins” on a weekly or even daily basis, where workers interact one-on-one with their team leads via video chat or instant message. These check-ins allow individuals to discuss how their work is progressing, as well as share how they're doing in their personal lives, which encourages authentic relationships.
Of course, the best way to create meaningful connections is for your team to meet in person. Consider holding on-site gatherings whenever possible, as well as encouraging team members who live near one another to meet up and spend time together.
Establish clear processes
Since you can't physically monitor your team's ability to do their jobs, it's vital that they're clear on exactly what you need them to accomplish. To this end, establish clear, easy-to-follow work processes, so each person knows what's expected of them, as well as how, where, and when their work should be delivered.
For general processes common to all employees, consider creating video tutorials laying out standard operating procedures (SOP). Share these videos with your team, so they have an easy-to-follow model for how common tasks should be completed.
For more specific functions, consider online project-management tools like Asana and Trello that allow you to assign tasks in a highly structured way. By organizing project tasks in a checklist format, team members can complete each task in a step-by-step manner, ensuring maximum consistently and efficiency.
Moreover, these programs offer a detailed overview of each project, so you can clearly monitor workflow and track where individual team members are in the overall process, eliminating the need to micromanage.
A solid foundation
As with any business, running a successful remote operation isn't just about managing your team. You're also responsible for the nuts and bolts of business management: the legal, insurance, financial, and tax (LIFT) components. Yet with your company's workforce spread out over several different states—maybe even different countries—these essential tasks are made even more complex.
For instance, just staying in compliance with the constantly changing employment and tax laws across multiple states can be a massive endeavor. And making just one mistake can cost you big time.
We offer a complete spectrum of legal services for business owners and can help you make the wisest choices on how to deal with your business throughout life and in the event of your death. We also offer you a LIFT Your Life And Business Planning Session, which includes a review of all the legal, insurance, financial, and tax systems you need for your business. Schedule online today.