WORKING REMOTELY:

A guide for hiring and managing a remote team

working-remotely

WORKING REMOTELY:

A guide for hiring and managing a remote team

working-remotely

WORKING REMOTELY:

A guide for hiring and managing a remote team

working-remotely

WORKING REMOTELY:

A guide for hiring and managing a remote team

working-remotely
To say remote work is on the rise would be an understatement. Some early adopters had already made the successful transition to a fully remote workforce, and other businesses were quickly following suit. And today, remote work is the reality for most businesses. Whether you like it or not, this is not a temporary trend; remote work is the future of work. And the future is here.
 
In this comprehensive guide, we'll address everything you need to know for implementing a successful remote work policy into your organization. From defining working remotely to tips for hiring and attracting remote talent—we have you covered.

CHAPTERS:

1. REMOTE WORK DEFINED
5. ONBOARDING EMPLOYEES
2. THE BENEFITS
6. INVESTING IN TECHNOLOGY
3. THE CHALLENGES
7. MANAGING A TEAM
4. HIRING TALENT
8. BUILDING COMPANY CULTURE

CHAPTERS:

1. REMOTE WORK DEFINED
5. ONBOARDING EMPLOYEES
2. THE BENEFITS
6. INVESTING IN TECHNOLOGY
3. THE CHALLENGES
7. MANAGING A TEAM
4. HIRING TALENT
8. BUILDING COMPANY CULTURE

CHAPTERS:

1. REMOTE WORK DEFINED
2. THE BENEFITS
3. THE CHALLENGES
4. HIRING TALENT
5. ONBOARDING EMPLOYEES
6. INVESTING IN TECHNOLOGY
7. MANAGING A TEAM
8. BUILDING COMPANY CULTURE

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Section 1

What is remote work?

Working remotely, also known as “telecommuting,” or “working from home (WFH),” is simply the ability to work from anywhere—without having to travel to a specific office location.

While the idea of working remotely isn’t new (it dates back to the early 70s), today’s technology has made remote work much more feasible, and therefore, much more desirable.
 
Video is being widely used to emulate in-person interactions, while office communication and content management tools are keeping people more connected and organized than ever before. As professionals seek to utilize this technology to work more efficiently and lead more balanced lives, remote work is quickly being viewed as a standard, not a perk or privilege.
 
With increasing demand for workplace flexibility, employers are quickly rewriting their handbooks and investing in the necessary tools to adapt. For some, this may look like implementing a policy that allows employees to work remotely a few days a week—for others, this may mean adopting a full-time remote staff. While remote work may look different to every organization, its benefits and challenges—for the most part—remain the same.
Section 2

The benefits of remote work

It’s clear remote work is here to stay, which has a lot of benefits not only for your employees, but for your entire organization.

While there are some obvious benefits to remote work, there are also some hidden advantages that many organizations will gain. These include:

Lower costs

Cutting down on real estate costs is a major way to decrease your overall spend, whether you choose to eliminate your office space or simply reduce it. With less people within one location, you’re also bound to save on overhead costs, which typically include office supplies, furniture, and electricity.

An expanded pool of talent

If it’s been difficult to attract talent within a commutable distance from your organization, remote work may be a game changer for your company. Without geographic restrictions, you’ll be able to cast a wider net to find the right talent.

A happier workforce

Many people struggle with time management and work-life balance when commuting to work five days a week with rigid hours. With a reduced commute, remote work allows employees to better manage their time and work during the hours where they can accomplish the most. This better quality of life will not only help employees become more productive, but will also contribute to a culture that values work-life balance.

Company loyalty

Once you implement a remote work plan for your organization, you’re giving individuals more control over their schedule. This autonomy helps workers feel more valued, which can help foster loyalty for the company.

A competitive edge

Research shows that 74% of working professionals would change jobs in order to be able to work remotely. If you want to have a competitive edge over the competition, you’ll need to give potential employees what they want.
working-remotely

74% of working professionals would change jobs in order to be able to work remotely

ZAPIER

working-remotely

74% of working professionals would change jobs in order to be able to work remotely

ZAPIER

Section 3

Challenges of a remote workforce

Virtual teams have been on the rise for several years. While some companies have always opted to hire remotely, it wasn’t until recently that all employers had to quickly get on board with some form of remote working.

Whether this was an abrupt or well-planned transition, you’ll find that a remote workforce comes with a unique set of challenges. Like other business challenges, these hurdles can be difficult to overcome without the right foundation in place. But when leaders implement and reinforce the proper policies and procedures, working remotely will benefit the business and employees alike. Since getting started is the hardest part, here are the main challenges that employers need to address when adopting a formal work from home policy:
Tracking productivity
To be successful, managers must ensure their team is accomplishing their goals, meeting deadlines, and that their work is up to company standards. That’s why most employers share these major concerns about working remotely:
  • Can I trust my employees to do their jobs from home?
  • How do I know who is using their time effectively and who isn’t pulling their weight?
  • Is every team member being properly utilized?
These questions will be difficult to answer without an understanding of your team’s productivity. That’s why it’s important to establish guidelines for accountability and track progress.
remote-work-solution
The Solution:
  • Daily or weekly standups: Consider scheduling a daily or weekly call with your team, where you can discuss top priorities for the day and get a recap of what employees accomplished in that timeframe.
  • Task management platforms: Utilize a task management platform to view each employee’s tasks and priorities. So long as your team successfully updates their tasks, you can get a great view of not only what is getting done, but how quickly your staff is working.
Team morale + culture
There is no doubt that company culture can suffer under a work from home policy. Employees working in an office have plenty of organic opportunities to build relationships—and this communication and camaraderie is important as it impacts morale.

 

Without the right tools to facilitate communication in real-time, remote employees might feel isolated, unmotivated, and undervalued.
 
Helping remote employees feel connected, on the other hand, will result in greater productivity, collaboration, and job satisfaction.
remote-work-solution
The Solution:
  • Video calls: Video calls can help replicate an in-person meeting, allowing you to see your team members and read nonverbal cues. In addition to being a critical communication tool, video calls can be an easy way to have fun!
  • Messenger platforms: In an office environment, you may be accustomed to stopping by an employee’s desk or simply turning around to ask a question. Utilizing an instant messaging platform is the best way to recreate this virtually. Once again, it can be utilized for fun purposes as well—giving remote employees a dedicated space to have fun with one another.
Work-life balance
The blurred lines between their work and home lives can be difficult for remote employees to overcome. Managers might not feel it’s their place to help staff manage these conflicting responsibilities, but quite the opposite is true. When your employees have a lot going on at home, it is important that they feel supported and trusted by the company they are working so hard for. As a result, it’s important that you work together to find a solution and move forward.
remote-work-solution
The Solution:
  • Flexibility: There will be times when employees must address the needs of their home responsibilities. As a result, employers should remain flexible with their staff regarding the hours they work. When you shift from a focus on hours to a focus on results, you’ll find that your employees will figure out how to get their work done and take care of home responsibilities on their own time.
  • Communication: When there are conflicting work and home responsibilities, be sure to encourage frequent and open communication. This will continue to build trust with your employees and ensure that work will still be completed.
Learn more: Top Challenges Of Managing Remote Employees (And How To Overcome Them)

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Section 4

How to attract + hire talent

If you are committed to building a remote workforce, it’s time to turn your attention to hiring the right talent remotely.

There are a variety of factors you should consider when hiring remote talent. Below are four things you’ll need to do:
Establish a strong employer brand
Managing your organization’s online brand is important when you are hiring any talent. However, it becomes even more important to establish a strong employer brand when hiring remotely. Without in-person interviews, it can be very hard for a candidate to gauge what it’s like to work at the company. That’s why having that information available online is so important. If candidates see that your organization is a great place to work, they are more likely to apply and accept an offer.
Take the following steps to ensure you have a great employer brand:

1

Establish a strong social media presence

2

Highlight awards your organization has won

3

Monitor online reviews and evaluate next steps

4

Encourage employees to be brand ambassadors
Write an eye-catching job description
A job description is your next chance to get the right talent in the door. To keep their attention and stand out amongst your competition, everything you are selling—from your culture to the actual job description—needs to be tied together.
Write a stand out job description by:
Choosing the right title for the job being promoted
Connecting the job to the company mission
Highlighting development opportunities
Focusing on your unique employer benefits
Prepare yourself for a seamless virtual interview
Once you attract the right talent, you’ll need to prepare yourself for a successful virtual interview. Before the interview starts, make sure to confirm the interview information, test out your technology, and set your space to be distraction-free while the interview is in session.

Learn More: Hiring? Tips For Hosting A Successful Video Interview

Prepare the right questions
You’ll want to be efficient with your time and ask the right questions during a virtual interview.
Here are a few interview questions you can ask a remote candidate:
  1. What is your biggest accomplishment at work?

  2. Where do you see yourself in five years?

  3. Has there been a time when you had a conflict at work, and how did you manage the situation?

  4. What was a failure you had to overcome at work, and what have you learned from this experience?

  5. What excites you about the position and our organization?

Learn More: Six Interview Questions To Ask Candidates During The Hiring Process
Section 5

Onboarding employees who will work remotely

As working remotely becomes more prevalent, employers will need to rethink their onboarding strategies to ensure they are optimized for a virtual environment.

As you gear up for remote success, consider the following details when modifying your new hire training program:
Your end goal
A well-thought-out onboarding plan should immerse new hires in company culture and help set them up for success. When modifying your onboarding strategy—think about what you need to provide your remote employees so they can hit the ground running from afar. Here are two things you should make sure you are sharing upfront:
  • Clear expectations: Since working remotely leaves no room for in-person supervision, it is important to have a communication plan in place to set onboarding expectations. This will help your new hires understand what their training goals are, and avoid any unnecessary confusion about the process.

  • Company mission and values: If you want your new employees to instantly feel connected with your company and its culture (especially while remote), it’s important to share with them the building blocks in which the company was founded upon. Consider setting up a meeting to go through your organization’s mission and vision statements and any short or long-term goals. This will help your new hires gain a better sense of where the company is headed and how their roles fit into the plan.
Your means of delivery
When building an outline for your onboarding program, it’s important to consider how you will seamlessly deliver it. In order to foster an engaging and comfortable training environment, you should think about utilizing the following technology:
  • Video: To allow your new hires to build meaningful connections with their colleagues, try utilizing video technology for team introductions. This can help them not only put faces to names, but they’ll feel more comfortable working with people they’ve already met and seen.

  • Screen sharing tools: While written documents are always good to reference, for more complex training, consider investing in screen sharing technology. In doing so, you can create interactive guides, which will make the learning experience more exciting for your new hires. You may also be able to check-in on their progress by allowing them to share their screens and demonstrate what they’ve learned.
Learn More: How To Create A Virtual Employee Training Program
Section 6

Technology: 4 tools employers should invest in

As remote work becomes the new normal, employers are realizing that just providing your staff with a laptop is not enough.

Your organization will need to invest in the technology that will allow for long-term success. Four essential pieces of remote working technology include:

Home technology

This includes the essentials for remote work, which differ by organization but may include laptops, printers and extra monitors, or even wifi support. Home technology is typically the largest cost for the organization when shifting to a remote environment. However, it’s important to remember that this is a one-time cost.

IT infrastructure

If you want to set your remote team up for success, you’ll also need to invest in the IT infrastructure for your workforce at home. This includes setting up VPN (Virtual Private Network) access for employees and increasing your network bandwidth. This will allow your employees to work on a strong network and will increase production.

Communication tools

Communication is key when it comes to remote work, especially if you want to maintain a collaborative environment. Instant messenger tools such as Slack and video conferencing platforms like Zoom can provide the necessary forms of communication to help maintain work relationships with colleagues.

Project management tools

To keep your team on track, you may need to invest in additional project management tools to ensure productivity and accountability. Task management tools like Trello and Asana or robust project management tools like JIRA and Wrike may need to be considered when moving to a remote team.
Section 7

How to manage your remote team

Whether your team is partially or entirely remote, being a successful manager takes organization, transparency, and ultimately, trust.

If you’re leading a team of people who are working remotely, know there are many ways to be fully present and effective, without being physically present:
Communicate clearly
Communication is key—especially when you’re leading a virtual team. As a manager, it is important to set clear communication guidelines with your team, and to make sure you’re efficiently utilizing the time you have together. Ways to ensure you’re doing this include:
  • Having frequent meetings with set agendas: When time is of the essence, and meetings are often, an agenda can make all the difference. In order to avoid getting off-track, ensure every meeting has a plan that can be stuck to.

  • Setting protocols for communication: As you have your own deadlines and responsibilities to manage, you’ll need to be clear about how you want your team to communicate with you so that you are most helpful. Outline specific protocols for when it is best to call, email, message and/or video chat.

  • Emphasizing honesty: You’ll want to foster a team environment of honesty and transparency. Lead by example, and ensure it is clear that you are available for questions and to talk if need-be.
Lean on technology
Technology exists to make things easier. Make sure you are utilizing the right tools to help your remote team run like a well-oiled machine. Consider technology that can ease the way you manage projects, communicate, and stay organized, such as Slack, Zoom, and Asana.
Keep the momentum going
Without frequent check-ins, members of your team may start to feel disjointed or unmotivated. For that reason, it’s important to consistently engage with your team. You can do this by:
Sending a chat just to say "hello"
Participating in or leading casual team conversation
Sharing interesting projects other team members are working on
Have fun
All work and no play can be a recipe for burnout. Remember to celebrate team wins, and to set time aside for some fun. After all, you don’t need an office space to bring people together.
Learn More: Your Comprehensive Guide To Managing A Remote Team
Section 8

How to build a strong company culture when working remotely

Company culture is vital to every workplace. Considered the heart of a business, it can impact everything from talent attraction to employee engagement.

As most leaders know, creating a strong one does not happen overnight. It takes a concentrated effort to hire the right team members, establish transparency, and create the rituals and traditions that make staff feel connected—both to their work and each other.
But when employees are working remotely, building a company culture that reaches everyone can be even more challenging. Consider all the normal office interactions—morning updates, weekly brainstorms, group activities, happy hours, office chatter, etc.—that happen organically between your team. This is not the reality for remote employees. With team members scattered across different locations, employers need to be intentional in cultivating a culture of connectivity, communication, and belonging.
So, what can employers do to build a strong company culture for remote staff?
Improve communication
With culture more likely to fall through the cracks in a remote environment, leadership needs to take an active role in nurturing engagement and building trust. Since culture goes hand-in-hand with communication, executives should start by setting the standard and embracing virtual tools to keep morale high and help employees feel appreciated. Some easy ways to do this include:

An employee newsletter

In addition to providing company updates, an employee newsletter can be a great platform for highlighting the happenings and achievements of different departments and shouting out specific employees who have hit major milestones.

Sending out surveys

While employees might not physically be in the office, they need to feel “seen.” A survey gives employees an opportunity to share their feedback—just be sure to take it seriously and come up with a plan for better supporting them.
Build peer-to-peer relationships
In a traditional office setting, companies often rely on the physical space to help nurture relationships amongst staff. In a remote setting, however, there are no ping pong tables, cafes, or even water coolers where staff can gather to take a break or chat with colleagues—making it more difficult to build camaraderie. The good news is that leaders can take the following steps to re-create these interactions virtually:
coffee-breaks
Take "coffee" breaks
team-games
Play games
slack
Create fun Slack channels
video
Make communication visual
coffee-breaks
Take "coffee" breaks
team-games
Play games
slack
Create fun Slack channels
video
Make communication visual
Establish company-wide initiatives
When employees are working remotely, it’s important to give them the sense of community that they’d most likely get if they were working in the office. Annual or quarterly company-wide initiatives are a great way to bring all your staff together, in-person or virtually, to get to know each other and keep company spirit alive. Here is some inspiration for getting started:

Town halls

These meetings can help ensure every employee, regardless of their location, is informed of important company updates, milestones, and events. They also give staff the opportunity to ask questions and give their feedback.

Friendly contests

Encourage some friendly competition by starting company-wide contests, hosting trivia events, or even having a competition that promotes wellness (like a steps competition!).

Shadow programs

Allowing individuals to shadow employees in different departments is a great way to encourage team collaboration and expose staff to various areas of the company.

Company retreats or events

Bring your employees together for a few days of team bonding and fun!

Volunteering

Hold a bi-annual or annual volunteer event, where employees can volunteer together instead of logging on or going into the office.
Learn More: 6 Virtual Team Building Activities To Boost Morale