Throughout the pandemic, remote working has become increasingly popular. Many employees are now thankful for the flexibility and work-life balance it affords, while employers enjoy the increased productivity and fewer overheads associated with running an office. Despite these benefits, managing a remote team doesn’t come without its challenges, from communication struggles to fostering a culture of trust, the physical distance has proven difficult to navigate for a wide range of organizations.
However, remote working does appear to be the future, or at the very least a hybrid model that merges working from home with time spent in the office. So, how can hiring managers make sure they’re finding the right candidates for their remote roles whilst also ensuring their staff feels supported and satisfied in their jobs? These might sound like big questions, but it’s possible to take small steps in the right direction to increase the likelihood of success.
If you’re looking to expand your remote team or change your way of working, this blog has some essential tips to help you succeed.
Invest in the right technology
A major contributing factor to a successful remote working setup hinges on a business’s use of technology. Communicating online will likely be your team’s primary means of collaborating and communicating, so it makes sense to invest in the right applications, software and hardware for the job. The first step should be making sure all your employees have all the equipment they need to carry out their roles effectively, which usually includes a laptop or computer, keyboard, mouse and additional monitor if needed. However, it may also be beneficial to supply staff with chairs and desks to ensure they feel comfortable.
Next, you’ll need to consider software. Employees will need to collaborate online, so cloud-based solutions that allow individuals to log in from any location are the most desirable option. Once you’ve decided on a communication channel, such as Microsoft Teams or Slack, it’s also worth thinking about what other applications you can use to streamline your business. For example, investing in tax return software will help to ensure you make accurate returns to HMRC and that all your data is secure and accessible 24/7. It is not an overstatement to say that having your business’s financial information limited to only one computer or stored on online spreadsheets is a disaster waiting to happen. Not only could information become compromised by hackers, but it could also be accidentally deleted by an individual.
Refine your hiring process
It’s very difficult to build a dream team if you can’t hire the right candidates for the job. Hiring staff remotely might seem like a challenge to begin with, but video interviews are just as effective as meeting in person. In fact, in October 2020, 89% of companies are said to have been using video interviews to hire new employees, which goes to show how accessible remote hiring really is. Make sure you have a good internet connection, a crystal-clear camera and good lighting and your video interview shouldn’t feel too different from a more traditional one.
When it comes to choosing the right people for a remote role, you may need to look for additional characteristics than you would ordinarily. Employees who work remotely should be self-starters, unafraid of communicating their needs and demonstrate self-discipline. Managing remote employees is different to an office environment, so you need to be sure that your candidates are capable of managing their workload without direct supervision. Ask each potential employee how they feel about working remotely and whether this is something they are happy to do for the foreseeable.
Trust your employees
Once you’re sure you’ve hired the right people, it’s time to trust them to do their jobs. Remote working has turned some competent leaders into micromanagers that watch their team’s every move. The reasoning behind this is understandable as it’s only natural to feel nervous about the fact that you have no way of telling whether your staff is performing adequately or not. However, this anxiety is perhaps more reflective of your own insecurities rather than your staff’s ability to perform. Employees who are good at the work they do will become frustrated with management that constantly checks up on them and asks for frequent reports on their work. Take a step back and know that the people you hired are doing what’s required of them.
Maintain communication with your team
While trusting your team is important, you do need to communicate with them as well. An absent manager can be just as problematic as an overbearing one, so you’ll need to strike a balance between the two. Make an effort to be available for questions or quick calls throughout the day and reply promptly to messages. While it’s perfectly acceptable to log off during your lunch break, it’s bad form to fail to respond to messages within an appropriate time frame unless you’re unusually busy.
You may also need to schedule slightly more meetings than you’d have to in an office, simply because both you and your team don’t have as much visibility when working on projects. However, you should try and keep these meetings short and to the point. There’s no right answer as to how many meetings you should have each week, but one every day is likely too many while one every other week is possibly too few. Decide whether you want to have a quick five-minute catch-up each morning or a longer meeting to finish off each week.
In addition to group meetings, also have one-on-one calls with employees to check in on their progress. It can be difficult for staff to voice certain concerns in a group setting and they may not want to schedule a meeting with their managers themselves. Booking in a quick discussion on a regular basis will allow you to make sure that everyone is as satisfied as possible.
There’s no guarantee that you’ll build your remote dream team on the first try, but by maintaining open communication with your staff, being honest about your work culture and providing employees with all the tools they need, you’ll be on the right track.