It’s amazing to think that the tech world has made it possible to run a business without paying for an office, or even needing to meet your employees in real life. Indeed, organisations like the Hoxby Collective do just that, with a team of talented individuals from all disciplines working collaboratively on projects across the globe. But of course, running a business where you aren’t sat next to your colleagues has its own set of challenges. Here’s how to tackle them, and triumph.
Easier said than done, right? But if you’re going to let your employees work independently, you need to be able to trust them 100%. Using video conferencing to do your interviews will give you a good idea of their personality, and make sure you hire “doers, not dreamers”, according to business expert Ryan Halliday at Observer. “Only hire people that simply get things done,” he advises. “If the candidate isn’t already self-motivated to get stuff done, they aren’t going to magically become a doer because you hire them. You can teach skills–you can’t teach initiative, discipline or dedication.
If you’ve got staff scattered across the globe, you’ll have to learn to work in a more fluid way. Your team won’t be keeping office hours in the UK, so factor that in when you’re asking them to complete work. Making sure your employees are happy is no less applicable for remote workers. There are a number of tips you can learn for managing teams in different time zones here. But keep in mind that there will be different national holidays depending on what country they’re in. So if you’ve got someone based in the Middle East, remember their weekend starts on a Friday. It’s respecting the small differences like this will make your remote team will feel valued.
Communicating clearly with your employees about your expectations is a key part of any business’ success – but when you can’t actually see what they’re doing, you need to find another way to monitor progress. Luckily, there are loads of great tools now like Basecamp or 15Five that allow you to communicate and run a business anywhere in the world (with internet). “This gives employees a much needed voice in the day to day working of a company, update their boss on their great work and answer important questions. It also gives management a good view from the sky to see what each employee is working and responsible for,” says Ryan Halliday at Observer. “Don’t overthink tools–just pick the ones that work and use them.
It’s not just about your employees hitting targets – you also need to know how they’re feeling, too, and whether things are going well for them. If there are gripes and resentments, you need to hear about them before you lose staff. So, fabricate that ‘informal chat at the water-cooler’ moment with tools that enable both of you to offer positive or negative feedback. If your team uses Slack to communicate, set up a channel to focus on publically congratulating employees for a job well done, and set up regular calls, screen share sessions or web meetings to check in with your staff.
Essentially, to run a business and manage a remote team successfully, it boils down to one key factor – making your staff feel valued, wherever they are in the world. “You must build rapport with *every* member of your team,” says GetLighthouse. “Rapport is what will help you work through problems each team member has, trust they can come to you with things important to them, and give you the benefit of the doubt when you make a mistake or an unpopular decision. Rapport comes from getting to know them as a complete person…taking the time to do this will also make them like working for you more.”