So, you’ve decided to continue working remotely. Office life wasn’t right for your business, and the pandemic helped you realize that your best work gets done when you let your employees escape the mother ship to work on their own time.
Working remotely is a benefit to both employers and their workforce. You have less overhead when it comes to maintaining an office, they have a more flexible schedule. But, a remote set-up isn’t the kind of thing you set and forget. You still need to think about how a remote workstyle is going to affect how your business operates.
Here are some things to consider.
Hire with Remote Communication in Mind
When you’re looking to add a new person to your remote team, you’re going to have a new set of requirements on top of the typical interview questions. How well can this person stay on task? Do they have a stable place to work from? How do they deal with distractions? Do they have experience working independently? How are their communication skills?
This person is going to be working closer to home than most people—figuratively and literally. And there are a lot of factors completely independent from the ability to perform the job that will determine if someone is the right fit for a remote position. For instance, their interests. Someone with hobbies or interests outside of work shows a higher motivation than someone who clocks out and sits in front of the TV until bedtime.
Working remotely can have its fair share of communication issues and misunderstandings. Be sure that you institute an open door policy between the team, yourself, management, and within the team itself so that everyone feels comfortable clarifying and comprehending anything necessary. Planning ahead for a remote employee instead of an office-based employee is going to save you a lot of grief in dealing with communication mishaps down the road.
Come Together, Even When Working Apart
No employee is an island. Nobody is going to feel satisfied clocking in, not talking to any of their coworkers for eight hours, working head down at their home office all day, and then clocking out. Even when you’re working remotely, you need to find ways to create a team environment.
If your team is composed entirely of locals, make time to hang out outside of work hours, either after punching out or at the office, if applicable. You don’t need to work too hard at this to be successful. It doesn’t really matter what you do, the team will just be happy to get out of their houses and have some fun on the company’s dime.
But, if your employees are spread out across the country and can’t all meet up to go axe throwing or on a brewery crawl, there’s still plenty that you can do.
Be a Trusting Leader
Try and strike a balance between over-managing and going ghost. Do not micromanage your team, but always be available when one of your employees has a question.
Nobody flourishes when their boss—virtually or in-person—is watching them like a hawk. But also, if you’re too distant and they feel like they’re bothering you every time they send an IM, you’re not creating a hospitable environment for them either.
You hired your employees, you should be confident in their ability to deliver on time. I don’t constantly impress the importance of deadlines on my staff because I don’t have to. They know what things need to be delivered to a client, when campaigns are launching, and what emails can wait until morning.
Also, budget time in your day for Zoom calls. Emails are cold and intimidating—they lack the human touch and are very open to misinterpretation.
Show Investment in your Team
I actively encourage our Go! Agents to seek out training materials that would benefit them. As we’re not in the office, it’s can be hard to know what skills someone needs to brush up on or who would benefit from learning something new.
When you talk to your team about their future plans, moving up with your company, and their career goals, they’ll feel less like worker drones that you could replace at any time. And that worker drone feeling is pervasive in remote culture—you need to prune it the minute you see it, or it will fester and you’ll lose some of your best employees.
Keeping a business going from the comfort of your own home is a convenience, but I wouldn’t call it a luxury. I’ve made the decision to open up the office again on an intermittent basis so that the team can come back and reforge that collaborative spirit they had pre-pandemic. But for companies who might not have that option, you can be successful running your business remotely. You just have to pay close attention to what matters most: the people doing the work.