A number of both large corporations and small companies having almost no staff is increasing. This is the impulse of new times that many call “uberization”. The phenomenon was named after Uber - one of the largest public-transportation companies whose drivers all are independent entrepreneurs aka freelancers. Such a structure allows Uber to work all over the planet through operating remote teams of drivers in dozens of cities simultaneously. Uber shows the way how to run a successful business when your employees are thousands of miles away from your office. Once Uber can cope with dozens of thousands of workers remotely, anyone who needs a smaller remote team can follow in Uber’s footsteps. “It works” as they say, and if so, some tips regarding what is worth remembering about remote workers wouldn’t hurt.
1. Can’t have too much communication
You won’t be able to touch your remote workers, pet their shoulders, and shake their hands. It seems a disadvantage since a lot of useful information expressed, for instance, in a natural body language will pass you by. In order to build important emotional connections with your remote team, the only reliable approach you have to apply is continuous communication. Talk to your team via phone, chats, video conferences, and messengers. Create your virtual presence among your distant employees. Imagine them sitting right behind the wall of your office. Spatial, cultural, and temporal barriers between you and your remote team should be blurred if not destroyed if you dare to expect an effective cooperation.
People are accustomed to ask questions when they face problems - make yourself permanently accessible for your team if delays due to misunderstanding are far from your agenda. We are living in the days when diversity of communication channels represents us an unprecedented flexibility and customization of how we can reach people. Want to inform all members of your team about an important idea but have no time to call them all or write emails since you are on the way? No problem: create a group chat in Telegram and send a voice message - you will reach the whole team instantly. Don’t be afraid to bother your team too much since “the more the better” fits remote communication as little else does. Isn’t it in your own interest to avoid regretful misconceptions? Be always on - the mighty Internet will come to your aid.
2. Intense challenges make sense
Set up truly challenging tasks before every member of your remote team. Although a project manager or a team leader bears full responsibility for a given project, every team member expects a personal attention from you. Remember that all of them are both individuals and professionals (otherwise they would hardly appear in your team). They all know well how to deal with their personal parts of the work. But what they may overlook is the height at which you raise the bar in a current project. Make them all stand on tiptoe, keep pushing your team toward unprecedented goals, encourage everyone to outdo oneself.
The almost impossible challenge can clearly show your team how confident you are in all of them. The goal standing right at the limit of their professional capabilities is the best reflection of your respect towards your people. The more challenging tasks you set, the bigger appreciation you may expect from your employees not to mention the quality of work. How to maintain a proper balance in the intensity of efforts your team should make to meet your requirements? How not to fall into exaggeration? Get to know as more as possible about everyone in your remote team.
3. “Who is who” critically matters
Always keep in mind that you work with a group consisting of individuals. The diversity of personalities is rather an advantage than a drawback in a team game. This is why Mother Nature created thousands of different species instead of a single set of unified cells - competition and, therefore, evolution is possible only between diverse creatures. Try to get to know all your team members individually in order to understand what a unique contribution each of them can make in a shared endeavor. You will be able to set goals right only when a holistic picture of who is who in your team is available.
One can add passion to your group work while the other one helps not to lose rationality - a team game is about multiplying individual impulses without getting into a destructive resonance. When everyone in your team starts feeling a personalized attitude from you, mutual understanding will inevitably grow boosting efficiency of a group work as a result. Since ignorance regarding our capabilities is the last thing we appreciate, spend time and effort to investigate the strengths of every worker in order not to compromise a full potential of your team.
4. Don’t skimp on praise
Start every morning with kudos to your team even if the achieved progress is almost undetectable. Once you know what all of them are worth, the given tasks seem at the limit of their capabilities. Let them know that you are fully aware of the great efforts each of them are making within a project. Show your team that even the slightest achievement is worth a reward. Fairness in assessing their labor along with justice in a distribution of your gratitudes can encourage your people for a further striving.
Underestimation of own capacities may be covertly present in some of your team members, but you can hardly read in hearts. So, practice “pre-emptive” strikes against hesitations and doubts - articulate how impressed you are with their work, never tire to repeat what cool professionals are gathered in your team. Charge your people with confidence. Inspire them through recognition of their merits. Remember that unhappy workers deliver nothing but loss. Besides, every praise from your side gives you a credit for a criticism that will appear necessarily sooner or later for fine-tuning your team’s workflow.
5. Your personal engagement is a must
Never use empty rhetoric and platitudes in communication with your remote team. Your workers can take it as a sign of your fake involvement in the process. Professionals are very sensitive about the issues they work over. They should feel your deep practical interest in their competencies. Any shallow discourse is intolerable when you, as an ultimate beneficiary of a project, discuss operational details with a dedicated team who is assigned to transform the project from just an idea into reality.
This is about empathy, on the one hand, and equity, on the other hand. Empathy splits you and your team together, equity shows that nobody from your team differs from you at a human level. We all are made of the same stuff, and the engagement of both you and your workers must correlate. Moreover, the harder work you personally demonstrate the more respect you earn from your employees. Many superstars in a contemporary business are sheer workaholics - just look at Elon Musk who even sleeps at his factory. Show your deep personal engagement, and your leadership along with the right to seek the results of the work from your team will never be called into question.
6. Communication beyond work is important
If your communication with a remote team is limited to only work issues, you run the risk to never gain a real understanding of the environment from which your current project is to be born. It is useful and important to spend some leisure time with your remote team somewhere in a virtual playground or in a chat box where your workers can stop playing their roles for a while. When people relax, you can catch some hidden features of their personalities from unexpected angles.
This is a part of an effective team building when your workers are positively surprised by your proposition to do something together beyond their day-to-day working routine. You will definitely benefit from a more precise knowledge about your people. Your team will have a chance to express something valuable for all of you in an informal manner. Besides, having fun together with a group of smart guys is always an exciting recreation.
7. Creativity is “cost nostra”
Seemingly simple solutions can easily offend perfectionists. There is always someone in your team who sees things differently. But there is always an obstacle which prevents a remote worker from busting into a boss office with “Heureka!” - a distance. Of course, the pre-planned brainstorming sessions when your remote team tries cracking some working problems together via Skype are useful and beneficial. But the true creativity tends to emerge spontaneously - the valuable “aha” moments oftentimes happen when nobody expects.
Arrange communication with your remote team in such a manner that all teammates would be able to express their sudden epiphany instantly even if the subject of their insights does not belong to their narrow proficiencies per se. Create a virtual “dispute box” to where everyone can drop a line whenever inspiration descends. Remember that self-realization rather than salary moves real professionals forward. Remove all distance-related obstacles which can potentially suffocate creativity of your team - who knows from whom of your remote workers a real breakthrough will arrive.
The very landscape of a labor market keeps changing these days that makes traditional employer-employee relationships seek new patterns. Freelancers and remote dedicated teams constitute a growing army of new-style workers. Some specific features of cooperation with remote employees can hardly be ignored if a project implies a high operational efficiency. The above-mentioned tips and tricks constitute just a small fraction of a wide practical experience Indeema gained over years. Being well-tested in field, they are not a dogma, nevertheless - so many projects, so many approaches. Sharing our vision on a remote teams’ employment we just encourage you to use your own imagination: practice remote employment without hesitation since only walking makes the road. Good luck!