An increasing number of businesses are allowing their staff to work remotely. Some are choosing to operate without a physical office at all. As technological advances make it easier for employees to perform their roles away from a traditional office, more companies are realising the benefits of this way of working. Staff are happier and more productive, overheads reduce and companies become more eco-friendly as fewer people are jumping in their cars for a daily commute. But how can you build a remote team that is effective and efficient?
- Make Communication Easy
Employees who work remotely can quickly become isolated and feel cut off from the rest of the company. This is not only likely to affect employee morale, but it’s also bad for business. Without an effective communication system, people start working in silos with the risk of missed opportunities, duplication of work and professional misunderstandings.
A virtual telephone number is a great way for companies to present a professional image while enhancing communications with customers and remote workers alike. A virtual number is not tied to any specific device. Calls can be routed to a relevant staff member wherever they are working from, ensuring remote workers never miss a call intended for them. Virtual phone numbers also provide a wealth of additional features and functionalities that can make remote teams more effective and efficient. Audio conferencing, which enables multiple people to participate in a call, means remote workers can join in team meetings.
Communication is key for keeping remote employees in the loop, maintaining morale and ensuring a business achieves its goals.
- Explain the Big Picture
People tend to perform better if they understand the purpose of what they are doing and how it fits into the company’s broader business objectives. When employees are dispersed, tasks can be allocated without an explanation of how this work contributes to a project or goal.
Employees working together in an office can see how their work aligns with that of colleagues or other departments. They can easily convene to discuss the scope and objectives of projects, allocate individual roles and address any misunderstandings.
Managers of effective remote teams take the time to explain the business challenge they are trying to address and how each person’s work will contribute to a solution. Employees feel valued and are driven to deliver their best as they understand that their tasks are not an end in themselves but part of the bigger picture.
- Recruit Top Talent
A remote team can only be as effective as its workers. You need to trust each member of the team to give their all, regardless of whether they are in the Manager’s line of sight or not.
Give careful thought to recruitment practices and the employment package on offer to ensure your company attracts top talent. People who are highly skilled and experienced are more likely to be driven to deliver their best and achieve their targets.
For niche industries, it’s often necessary to enlist the services of a recruitment agency. This comes at a cost, but recruiters will provide a better pool of talent than word-of-mouth marketing or job boards.
- Set Clear KPIs
Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) can help you monitor the performance of remote staff. They are also a useful tool to help employees stay motivated and track their work. A KPI is a measurable value that helps a company monitor its performance regarding key business objectives.
Individual employee KPIs should feed into high-level business KPIs (for departments and the business as a whole). In this way, KPIs support the goal of keeping remote workers in the loop with regards to “the big picture”.
Start by reviewing current business goals and consider how a particular employee is expected to contribute to that. For example, the company may have a target to increase sales by 10% in quarter one. The KPI for a remote sales agent could be to make a minimum number of outbound calls to prospects every day for that quarter or to increase the number of sales they close by an agreed percentage. There must be a means of accurately tracking KPIs for them to be useful. This is especially true for remote workers who managers cannot easily monitor in the same way they can in-office workers who they see every day.
- Provide Opportunities to Meet
Depending on how many remote workers you have and how geographically dispersed they are, arranging in-person meetings and events can be a great way to boost the effectiveness of remote teams.
Scheduling an annual social gathering can boost team morale and enhance employee loyalty to a company. Employees will have the opportunity to improve professional relationships with colleagues and make new relationships, which can lead to more effective ways of working.
In-person one-to-ones are often the best way to conduct performance management meetings, address issues or manage sensitive situations.
Holding a meeting at a central location allows employees the opportunity to bounce ideas off one another and gain a better understanding of the different roles in the company. In-person meetings also foster creativity and the generation of new ideas.
Remote working offers many benefits for businesses and their employees. Flexible working schedules are becoming a common expectation of candidates applying for vacancies. Companies must consider this when compiling employment packages if they wish to attract top talent. Remote teams can be highly effective and efficient if the business implements the correct systems and strong leadership provided.