8 Tips for Building a Remote Team

Remote teams are not a new concept, but they have become more popular than ever in recent years. With improved internet connections, video chat software, and other communication tools, there’s never been an easier time for businesses to implement a remote team. Many companies are evolving away from the traditional office model, but often without a plan for how to build a remote team effectively.

If you set up a remote team properly, it not only allows you to hire people based on their character and skill set rather than their location; but it can also enable a more productive and happier team. However, implementing a remote team isn’t as simple as sending everyone home and assigning them work. Remote teams need to be managed and organized with unique processes and tools to ensure that they feel valued, connected, and productive. Here are 8 best practices that we have identified at Selland Technologies as we have set up our fully remote team.

Hire based on character, not location

When hiring for an office team, the first thing most employers do is look at each candidate’s skills and experience. However, when working as a remote team, character and culture fit are even more important than when working together in person. Communication style, honesty, and transparency are key indicators of success in fully remote roles and are often more indicative of success than the technical skills and experience a team member has.

Schedule recurring catch-up meetings

Remote team members need to feel like they are a part of something larger than themselves, just like people working together in one location. Remote workers often report feeling isolated and left out of the company culture. You can address this through recurring one-on-one and team meetings that are designed to foster human connections. We have a variety of team meetings daily, weekly, and monthly that help the team (and individual practices) stay connected and foster personal connections.

Set guidelines for communication methods

Remote work requires clear guidelines for communication processes and tools. At Selland Technologies, we have adopted a policy of extreme transparency where we encourage all communications to happen in public forums, even when only between two people. While team members may feel like they are “spamming” the channel at first, over time the consistent communication creates connected teams that are able to follow along with projects even when they are not actively involved.

Create a shared workspace

Similar to our communication guidelines, encouraging work and communication to happen in shared work spaces creates a virtual community for the team. We have adopted tools like Slack, Notion, and FigJam to provide collaborative work spaces for the team that facilitate communication synchronously and asynchronously.

Diversify your hiring pool

One of the primary benefits of building a remote team is that it opens up a much wider talent pool compared to hiring within a specific city, state, or country. However, it is also true that in our experience, the best hires are often referrals from current high-performing team members. Taking that into consideration, it is often wise to be intentional with adding additional diversity to your team to expose your team to new communities, cultures, and demographics. We have found that having a diverse group of team members not only improves the product we are able to provide to our customers but also improves our ability to scale our team rapidly when necessary.

Establish office hours

When surveying the Selland Technologies team, a consistent favorite “feature” of our remote model is the flexibility it provides around working hours. If you have a doctor’s appointment, a hair-cut, or just want to grab an early dinner, you have the flexibility to do that. However, we have also found it beneficial to try to establish some consistent overlapping hours when people are generally on Slack together. These hours often vary by team and are not intended to be a work schedule, but if I know I can consistently chat with a teammate from 9:00 – 11:00 each morning, I am less likely to bother them when they are eating dinner with their family.

Track productivity by deliverables, not time

Many businesses track their employees by the number of hours they work. This is especially common in fields like construction and law, where working from 9 to 5 is a given. However, with our remote team, we have found deliverables to be a more effective way of assessing performance. In our line of business as a digital agency and consultancy, hour tracking will always be a necessity, but from a management perspective, we now treat that as purely part of the billing cycle and not a key performance indicator for our team members.

Create remote team-building activities

Every team, remote or otherwise, requires periodic investments into the team culture. Office-based teams can often get away with doing this less frequently since team members may take lunch together or go out after work. We have found that hosting regular (daily, weekly or bi-weekly) virtual events is key to helping our teams operate at a high level. Work can be stressful, and teammates need to see each other in different contexts to remember that they are all working toward the same goal.

At Selland Technologies, we believe that remote teams can be even more effective than in-office teams.. They provide your company with access to a much larger talent pool as well as substantially more diversity. However, if you attempt to operate with the same principals, tools, and processes that work for an office-based team, most companies will find managing a remote team both challenging and inefficient. By taking a fresh look at your processes, tools, and communication guidelines and perhaps adopting a few of the ideas shared above, you can improve the productivity of your remote team much like we have with ours.

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