HR Management & Compliance

Tips and Tools to Manage a Remote Team

Remote work is here to stay, which is good news for everyone. Being able to ditch the traditional brick-and-mortar office to work from home, the beach, or a coffee shop is a dream come true for the modern workforce. And as it turns out, it benefits employers, too, by helping to save costs.

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Running a remote business and managing remote employees can be scary, though. Things aren’t exactly straightforward when your team (or clients) is scattered halfway across the world. So, here are a few things to keep in mind as you run your remote business.

  1. Start with the right team.

One of the perks of running a remote business is that it opens up a larger talent pool to choose from. While this is mostly a good thing, it can also be a bane if not managed properly.

The success of your remote business depends largely on the people you’re working with. If they’re positive, savvy, and hardworking, that’s really good news. If they’re quite the opposite, then you’ve got a real problem on your hands.

So, what do you do? Choose carefully!

When seeking to collaborate with or hire people, consider two things: talent and attitude. As tempting as it may seem to focus solely on talent, please don’t! Having a talented but negative/lazy person on your team is a recipe for disaster.

So, once you have an initial draft of qualified candidates to choose from, set up an interview via video conferencing to find out if they’re disciplined and self-motivated. In the end, you should go with candidates who are talented and self-motivated and have a positive attitude.

  1. Set clear goals.

One of the major challenges of remote work is maintaining the drive to work each day, as there’s no supervisor looking over your shoulder. So, how exactly do you keep your team motivated? It’s simple: Set goals.

Setting clearly defined goals for yourself and your employees is a surefire way to achieve success in business. Ideally, goals should range from daily targets to long-term goals that span across months or even years.

However, you need to make sure your goals are realistic and measurable. If you can’t measure them, you might as well ditch them because you won’t achieve them. But the good news is that there are tons of tools that can help measure daily performance and the extent to which you realize your goals.

  1. Set up a solid communication plan.

If your team is scattered across the world, then one thing you absolutely must get right is communication. It can make or break your business—literally.

For starters, if you’re managing an intercontinental remote team or you’re working with clients in different time zones, you need to account for the time difference and adjust your communication schedule accordingly.

You also need to know when and how best to reach your team members. Tools such as Skype, WhatsApp, Telegram, and Google Hangouts are a great start. But sometimes, an old-fashioned phone call does the trick, as well.

  1. Select the right tools.

Physical files are a luxury you can’t afford when running a remote business. And at the same time, your team members must have easy access to all necessary documents when required.

This is why you need the right set of tools to ensure effective communication and collaboration. Of course, it goes without saying that you need a laptop, a secure Internet connection, and smartphones.

You’ll also need an array of business software, which may be either free or paid. Here are some tools you should probably check out:

  • Communication tools: These make information dissemination seamless and efficient, e.g., Skype, GoTo Meeting, FreedomVoice, etc.
  • Project management tools: These allow you to assign specific tasks—and their respective due dates—to individuals or groups within the team, e.g., Basecamp, Dropbox, Slack, etc.
  • Productivity-/time-tracking tools: These help to measure the day-to-day, on-the-job performance and productivity levels of team members.
  • Payment processing tools: These make it easy to send and receive local and international payments, e.g., PayPal, Transferwise, Payoneer, etc.

The Bottom Line

Running a remote business isn’t as scary as you think. With the right tools and technique, success is definitely achievable. Utilize these tips, and you’ll be on the path to success.

Liam Martin is a cofounder of Time Doctor, a time-tracking and productivity-monitoring software designed for tracking the hours and productivity of remote teams.