Ultimate guide to building remote teams

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Is your business considering to use remote teams? Learn how to build remote teams here.

Remote teams are becoming the future of work. Why are remote teams becoming increasingly popular? As businesses have becoming increasingly global, remote teams provide a cost effective way of sourcing talent. Remote teams also benefit a business through increased diversity, greater flexibility and access to talent regardless of geography.
Also known as virtual teams, businesses may wonder how to integrate and lead remote teams in order to scale. This post will provide you with foundational principles to start building remote teams for your business.

Common pain points that businesses may face when working with remote teams include:

  • Lack of trust when engaging with remote teams, resulting in a roadblock to scaling with them.
  • Providing timely feedback to remote team members on the quality of work.
  • Overall lack of time to invest in your remote team with other business priorities.

These pain points paint a scenario that many managers face. To address these, basic training and team leadership principles can be employed to get your teams running with less guidance. The key thing to remember is that remote teams need to be given the same respect as normal in-house employees.

How to integrate remote teams into your company culture

The onboarding process for your remote team should be no different to a regular staff member in the office. The only added element is to remember they are working virtually. Intangibles such as office culture and attendance need to be spelt out clearly. 

  • Onboarding process. The onboarding process is what sets the trajectory for your team. The first thing to include in the onboarding process is the company’s mission, vision and core values.After your team has understood the company’s purpose it is time to equip your team for autonomous success. This is achieved by teaching your team how to self learn, diagnose issues and solve problems as a unit, instead of relying on you for answers. Informing the team that everyone in the company has an equal stake in improving how things are done will help set this tone. Valve Software’s ‘Handbook for new employees‘ is a great example of this.Once the expectations for autonomous success  have been set, it is time to train your team in the main skills that bring your company success. These skills should be the main ingredients that your product/ service is dependent on.
  • Set the rules of engagement from day one. To ensure your remote team knows the rules of engagement, you need to make the following things clear. Working remotely is a privilege and should not be abused. Whilst flexible ways of working are commonly adopted, doing household chores or taking care of family should not interfere with working hours.
    It should be made clear that meetings and logging on require full punctuality, similar to coming to a physical office.
    Using online time trackers is highly recommended, allowing you to monitor your teams engagement. Upwork is a useful platform, including both the time tracker feature and inbuilt payroll system.Onboarding/ induction programs should be highly stimulating, offering a range of group exercises and variety of learning mediums (polls, videos, interactive exercises) to keep them engaged since they are tuning in virtually.
  • Introduce them. Once your team has been onboarded, it’s time to get them looped into the company. Getting them to complete an introductory blog allows them to introduce themselves to the wider company. After they’ve published the blog on your company collaboration platform, you can set up video calls with the different teams they’ll be working with. Formally introducing your new team members to the staff in the office helps break down the geographical barrier and puts a real face to represent the hard work your team will be doing.

Practical ways to effectively manage remote teams

Remote teams can be highly effective if they are given the right environment to work in. Systems and processes should allow the team to work together and assess priorities easily at any point of time. 

  • Build a system of accountability. Basic requirements such as logging in on time, being punctual for meetings and being online through their whole shift should be consistently reinforced. A great way to keeping your remote team engaged is by using a buddy system. This gives your new remote members a soundboard to ask ‘silly questions’ that are needed in the beginning. Once your team has grown and team leads have been appointed, give your leads the responsibility of keeping the junior members in check.
  • Communication. Since personal 1-on-1’s are out of the picture, we need to utilise video calling to bridge the gap. It is highly encouraged to have a weekly 1-on-1 (20 minutes) with each of your team members in the early stages of development, and one meeting with the entire team (1 hour) to discuss workflows and roadblocks. Zoom has amazing video quality and offers extra benefits such as video recording, whiteboarding and integrated scheduling with your calendar system.
  • Effective project management system. Choose a system that allows your team to collaborate, update projects easily and view priorities at a glance. JIRA by Atlassian is a great solution for this, allowing all teams across the company to update project cards for full transparency.

How to train remote teams

The classic pitfall when training remote teams is forgetting they aren’t able to tap you on the shoulder for advice. 

  • Scheduled check ins. If you’ve taught your team a new process or briefed a new project, make sure you touch base within the same business day. Sending them a calendar invite and making sure the team has understood all requirements will avoid any awkward scenarios and unnecessary back-pedalling. Once you have groomed some team leads, they will be able to assist you with ensuring projects and training are running smoothly.
  • Manufacture the learning curve. After teaching your team new processes it’s time to reinforce and scale. Requesting your team member to create a guide on how to execute this process helps them reinforce their learnings and patch up any knowledge gaps. Once guides have been made, give the team full accountability for updating these guides whenever a process improvement. Candidates with a high compliance component from the DISC profile model can be instrumental in ensuring key documentation is up to date.

Building effective remote teams may feel like additional work in the beginning. By giving your remote team clear expectations on how to perform, aligning them with the company mission and manufacturing an environment for them to scale in, you’ll find that your business will be scaling within 3-6 months.

Think this sounds too good to be true? Leave a comment below or email buildadreamteam@gmail.com with your questions.