As a newly-remote team, we at Mäd have been thinking about how our virtual workplace can operate more efficiently.
Managing a distributed team can be challenging for any organization, whether it be a digital consultancy like ours or otherwise. With the increasing availability of tools to support remote collaboration, though, this alternative work setup has become more common.
If you’ve decided to shift to remote work, you will find that managing off-site teams requires different strategies than working with staff in person. And if you’ve just started building and running a business, then, ideally, you can follow a more direct process that might make implementation easier.
Let’s jump straight to one of the following scenarios: you are either recruiting a remote team from the very beginning or hiring new (off-site) people for your existing team.
Talent acquisition for distributed teams can be challenging: it requires a thorough search for candidates who have the right skill set and experience, along with the ability to work independently and communicate well in a remote arrangement. Just as not every company is able to operate fully remotely, so may different individuals work more or less productively in this setting.
So, when recruiting, it’s helpful to look for candidates who already have experience working remotely. This will make the transition process more seamless both for you and the new hire and help ensure they’re able to adapt to the unique challenges of remote work.
Fortunately, there should be no issues running virtual interviews — for many organizations, this has become the norm after the pandemic.
Once new team members have officially joined, take the time to run a comprehensive and informative virtual onboarding. This should include setting clear expectations for their roles and responsibilities, providing the necessary tools and resources to work remotely, and defining key procedures. Don’t forget to introduce new hires to the company’s culture and values, and help them foster connections with other team members — they won’t be working in the same physical location, but they’re still a team.
Now that you’ve assembled a remote team, you will need to dedicate some time to training and keeping track of performance.
Whether your company has an HR department that handles learning and development (L&D) or you are a manager/supervisor working directly with team members, providing ongoing guidance and upskilling opportunities is important. This will ensure that each individual is able to perform their roles effectively, and can include both technical training (like learning how to use specific tools and technologies) and soft skills training (such as improving communication skills and time management).
Training opportunities may come naturally when working in an office environment, but will likely require more deliberate, well-planned efforts to benefit a remote workforce. If possible, make use of collaborative tools (which we’ll touch upon later) to set up and run virtual workshops, webinars, and training sessions.
In addition to training, routine performance management is key for productive distributed teams. This includes setting clear KPIs, engaging in feedback loops, and evaluating outcomes. Since your team is remote, regular check-ins with all team members via email, text, or Blue can help ensure that everyone is on track and allow you to address any issues or concerns.
This cannot be emphasized enough: make sure the quality of your company’s service delivery is not compromised in a remote setup. If your team is newly remote, work quality and productivity can be an issue without adequate planning and preparation.
To mitigate this, set clear standards for service delivery, then monitor performance against these standards. If your company works with clients, regular client feedback can also be valuable to identify areas for improvement and ensure customer satisfaction. Regardless of the product or service you offer, consider investing time and effort in quality control and assurance to deliver consistently high-quality results.
We always highlight the importance of people and company culture as a key part of running a successful organization or initiating change.
Fostering a strong remote team culture is essential for building a cohesive and productive distributed team. This includes creating opportunities for team members to interact and build relationships, such as virtual team-building activities and social events. Regular communication is also essential, both for work-related updates and maintaining connections. If all or most of your team is based in the same country or city, try to schedule team lunches or even face-to-face coworking sessions.
Apart from maintaining team culture, it’s also important to ensure that everyone is aligned with the company’s mission, values, and goals. This can be achieved by involving team members in the company’s strategic planning process, for example, and keeping everyone informed on the business’s performance.
While team-building is undoubtedly more complex remotely than on-site, you might actually find that your business and your people will benefit from working with a more diverse, interdisciplinary team.
And finally, here are some practical tips to boost remote collaboration.
Take advantage of all the available tools and technologies to help team members work and interact effectively. This can be hardware and devices like laptops and tablets (which companies will often send by mail to their employees and new hires), video conferencing software, project management tools, and collaboration platforms.
Also, try to establish clear communication protocols and expectations to avoid misunderstandings — especially if your team is spread across timezones. This could mean setting guidelines for when and how team members should communicate (i.e., through email or instant messaging?) and establishing processes for sharing documents and other files.
This is one of those situations where over-communication is acceptable! Although, if you are a leader or a manager, make sure you avoid micro-managing and let (trained and experienced) team members focus on delivering results rather than strictly reporting activities.
In regards to tools, at Mäd, we primarily use
Managing a distributed workforce comes with a unique set of challenges and can be a risky pursuit for newly-remote organizations. However, our collective experience of the pandemic has shown that cultivating a productive remote team is possible — regardless of the type of company.
Having the right strategies and tactics in place is essential. To build a successful distributed team, leaders must dedicate time and effort to finding, training, and supervising talent, and invest in innovative tools for collaboration and quality control.
While micro-management is inadvisable, regular communication is key to keeping your team productive and happy. Fostering a strong company culture, leveraging technology for virtual collaboration, and maintaining high-quality work will also significantly bolster the success of your remote business.
Ultimately, operating as a location-independent team should be a rewarding experience for both the organization and its people. With the right approach, companies can unlock the unique benefits of remote work, deliver exceptional service, and flourish.
If you’re interested in pursuing innovation to enhance your company’s strategy and improve operational excellence, don’t hesitate to reach out to us at email@example.com.