Scott Cathcart

Entrepreneur | Impact Investor | Triathlete

How To Build A Strong Team of Remote Employees

As we move forward in the digital age, more and more companies are choosing to have their teams work remotely. These virtual offices may seem difficult to manage, but they have the benefit of allowing people from all around the world to join.

The remote structure can be especially beneficial for a startup in its early stages. It maintains a flexible schedule, reduces the company overhead, and allows the company to recruit the best talent possible. Remote teams are able to get started and gain momentum more quickly. Even traditionalist companies can benefit from going remote.

We’ve established that going remote can be great for your business, but how exactly do you assemble a solid remote team? When you’re trying to find the people to make up this “dream team”, it’s a good idea to think about the core tenets of operating a remote business. These tenets are communication, trust and culture. Here’s how to set standards for these aspects and to foster the right environment:

Communication is by far the most important focus. A remote team is bound to fall apart if it doesn’t have consistent communication. Everyone needs to check in with each other and make sure they understand responsibilities and deadlines. It’s important to communicate face-to-face. You can make sure everyone’s on the same page by scheduling video calls with your team. A Skype or Google Hangouts meeting should become a regular part of the work week.

These video chat meetings shouldn’t be the only times you communicate. You’ll need to create ongoing communication channel. Many companies use Slack to communicate, and Trello is a useful tool to help you organize and manage projects.

You’ll need to set clear-cut rules on how communication will occur. Specify how tools like email and Slack will be used and set aside days and time slots for meetings. It’s also a good idea to have monthly or quarterly virtual town hall meetings in which the founder or senior management will speak to employees about company performance and other key information. This will create a sense of togetherness and keep teams engaged and aligned.

A remote team will fail without trust. Employees must rely on each other and therefore must be honest and motivated. Workers need to be self-driven to complete their tasks since no one will be checking in to see if they’ve been slacking off.

The most important part of this is hiring the right people. Not all good startup employees will be good at working remotely. You can’t use the traditional hiring process to find a solid remote team. Make sure you hire people with drive, discipline, and organization.

In order to hire the right people, you’ll need to ask the right interview questions. These questions must gauge the motivation and work ethic of the applicant. Find out specifically how the applicant organizes the workday. Some of the best questions to ask are the following:

  • If your manager was suddenly unavailable for a few days, how would you prioritize your work schedule?
  • What processes or tools do you use to manage projects both personally and professionally?
  • How does your work environment look?
  • What makes you want to do a telecommuting job?

Aside from a verbal interview, it’s a good idea to also have a round that is entirely text-based so that you can see whether applicants can explain their ideas or problems through clear written communication.

Company Culture
Just because your team is remote doesn’t mean it doesn’t need a culture. Since your workers are spread across the country or even the world, you’ll need to work extra hard to unify your team.

One important thing to do is to create a culture of work. Workers should find the work rewarding so that they are motivated. Work needs to be fun for everyone on the team so that you can all work toward a common goal.

You’ll also want to strengthen relationships by having employees get to know one another’s work styles. Work on your strengths and weaknesses together as a group. Encourage employees to answer one another’s questions and solve one another’s problems.

Working with a remote team can be tricky at first, but you can get the hang of it with the right group of people. You may encounter some problems that show just how different working remotely can be, but ultimately, you’ll be able to build a team that is just as strong as any team that works together in an office.

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