There are many reasons why companies of all shapes and sizes are deciding to build a staff of remote workers. People who work remotely have more flexibility, more control over their work environment, no commute, and less exposure to office politics, to name a few. Employers have just as much to gain, as they are likely to see lower bottom line and overhead costs, more cash flow, higher productivity, and a larger pool of talent to choose from.
That doesn’t mean building a remote staff is easy, however. There are plenty of challenges that come with hiring qualified and dedicated workers, keeping all the team members on the same page, developing morale, and establishing company culture. That’s why I’ve put together this list of seven tips to help you assemble and manage a great remote team and keep your business growing.
1. Hire Freelancers
One of the most appealing aspects of building a remote team is the fact that you don’t have to fill your staff with full-time employees—or part-time employees, for that matter. You can build your entire team around freelancers because there are freelancers out there for any business-related task you can think of. This means you can pay freelancers by the project—and only for the projects for which they have expertise. Plus, you’re not required to provide benefits, such as paid medical leave or health insurance.
One of the best ways to find good freelancers is to use a temp agency. A lot of temp agencies will handle the tedious parts of hiring, such as background checks, reference screening, skills training, and drug testing. That way, you can focus on growing your business.
2. Post Open Positions Online
Another way to get qualified freelancers is to post positions that you need filled online. Job boards like Upwork and Fiverr have numerous types of freelancers for pretty much every budget level. You can also post jobs on social media sites like Instagram and Facebook, where people can then share the job posting with others. Furthermore, make sure you have open positions posted on your website, even if you’ve posted it in other places.
3. Conduct Interviews
For each job candidate you’re interested in, conduct a thorough interview to gauge whether they would be a good fit with your company. Also, be sure to lay out guidelines and expectations for things like company culture, work quality, deadlines, and so on. If possible, meet for in-person interviews with any local candidates; for long-distance candidates, you can conduct virtual interviews.
4. Assign Test Projects
Giving job candidates one or two test projects (paid) is arguably an even better way of gauging whether they could fit in with the rest of your team. In fact, some companies forgo the interview process altogether and go straight to a test project (though there’s nothing wrong with doing both). This is mainly because assigning a project to a potential worker will show what kind of work they can do within the context of your business. For example, if you have a candidate in mind to write blogs for your website, give them a short article assignment to see if they have the skills and style you’re looking for.
5. Transcribe Your Call Notes
When your team starts coming together, you will probably experience challenges with communicating and keeping everyone on the same page. Effective communication can be difficult among remote teams, but you can’t be successful without it. For instance, every team member may not be able to make every team call, which is why you should always have call notes transcribed.
This is where using an automated transcription service can benefit your business. With this kind of service, you can have call notes transcribed in minutes, which you can then send to any freelancers who need them. Automated transcription is typically cost-effective as well; for example, some sites can transcribe an hour’s worth of audio for as low $6.
6. Get All The Tools You Need
Technology is the primary reason why businesses can operate with remote teams. Without the necessary tools to communicate, collaborate, and share ideas, it’s virtually impossible to be successful when you have workers in different parts of the country (or world). Make sure you have all the apps and software you need to keep your team members connected and thriving.
Here are some of the most popular remote work tools available today:
Slack – Team members can do a number of tasks with this online chat room, such as brainstorming, sharing files and notes, and chatting either on a public forum or private instant messenger.
Basecamp – This project-management tool is great for tracking the status of projects and helping team members complete them. It allows members to use a to-do list, share schedules, store and share documents, and discuss project details, among other things.
Zapier – This tool connects all the different apps your team is using (e.g., Slack, PayPal, Gmail, Dropbox), automates your work, and builds processes to help your team work more productively and efficiently.
7. Schedule Regular Team Meetings
Just like on-site teams, your remote team will need to have meetings to collaborate and discuss projects, policy changes, and other matters. Find video conference software that works well for your team (e.g., Skype, GoToMeeting, Zoom, UberConference), and conduct regular meetings. Some teams operate best when they meet every week, while others are fine with monthly meetings. How often you have a team meeting is up to you; just make sure you’re consistent. Moreover, planning an in-person team event or retreat once a year can help to build relationships and morale.
Developing a team of remote workers can do wonders for your business. Remember to consider hiring freelancers through temp agencies and online postings, and be sure to conduct quality interviews and/or assign test projects before hiring candidates. Also, use an automated transcription service and any other tech tools you need to be a productive team. Finally, hold regular meetings with the entire team to work together and help everyone stay on the same page. It’s not easy to build a thriving remote team, but it can be a game-changer if you do it the right way.