As the leader of a virtual or remote team, you need to manage performance and work relationships with employees who may be thousands of miles away. How can you keep your team cohesive so they perform as well as – if not better than – others?
You need the right tools to ensure that everyone on your team continues to execute without a manager physically standing near them. Create opportunities for team members to meet formally and chat informally. Choose the type of communication that works best for everyone.
- Keep group chat rooms open. These can become noisy as your team grows, so be sure to keep chats alive but not distracting. Skype and Slack are two of many platforms to consider. You can create multiple channels as needed, some of which will eventually be archived while others remain open. You also may want to consider a company-wide chat room for non-business talk. This creates a virtual water cooler, as it can get lonely working by yourself.
- Project management systems are helpful in organizing shared files. Remote team members can rest assured that whatever they do next will be a positive step for your product or company. Look into tools like Trello or Basecamp.
- Videoconferencing is a must. Some companies use Google+ Hangouts or Skype, but GoToMeeting remains a popular favorite for its superior audio and video quality. Spare yourself the hassle of printing documents, signing them and then scanning them back onto your machine by using HelloSign.
- Schedule weekly hangouts and monthly one-on-ones. Organize a system of overlapping schedules for communicating in different time zones. Weekly hangouts can include demos, interviews, or simply a chance to say hello to people you do not normally see. One-on-ones should be recurring dialogues between a manager and each team member. They can be excellent venues for discussing progress, concerns and improvements. Log the key outcomes of every session in a Google Document for easy reference.
Achieve Cultural Success
It may take extra effort to keep people feeling committed to your company culture when a team is working remotely. Members need to know that they are not only contributing value to a common goal, but they are also valuable to success in achieving that goal.
- Build culture in person. Bring your team together regularly, at least once or twice a year. Smaller groups may get together on an ad hoc basis as needed. There will be costs involved, but it should be minor in comparison to having everyone work in a central office.
- Do whatever it takes to make everyone feel a part of your company. Share corporate vision and developments on a regular basis. Get everyone involved in company-wide initiatives and events. Celebrate birthdays and other special occasions.
Your business will not flourish without strong systems and robust processes in place. Projects and teams within a brick-and-mortar office can compensate to some degree as people more readily interact in person. Have standardized, documented methods for tracking remote team productivity. Commit to continuous refinement and improvement.
- Track hours worked, attendance and other basic measures. There is a plethora of software and many excellent options and processes available.
- Allow a degree of flexibility. Balance this with structure. Otherwise, it will be impossible to maintain shared collaboration and reach results.
Consider partnering with the executive recruitment specialists at BrainWorks as you develop your successful remote team. We can help you hire talent that will get the job done wherever they are – and keep your team on track for the long run. Contact one of our talent management specialists today to learn more.