It’s 2018 folks. The traditional 9-5 with an hour commute each way is long dead. Thank God it is too. In the traditional company, you are limited by your location. Prospective employees will want to know how easily they can commute to your office, or what type of package you could provide to help them transplant. Gags. In today’s world, thanks to the wonder of the internet, we have the ability to work anywhere, which allows small businesses and teams to scale up faster than ever. With this ability comes the need for some tips on running a remote team because it’s not a batteries-included setup.
At Blog Trackr we’ve had some success in running a remote team given most of our employees haven’t seen our office. That’s not a problem though. As you’ll see from this post, it’s a good thing. In order to start scaling up your team though we’ve prepped a few tips that should help get things started.
Communicate Early and Often
The number one killer of any functional team, remote or otherwise, is a lack of communication. I’ve been in offices in person where communication was terrible. I’ve worked on remote teams where communication was stellar. It all goes back to how freely you encourage and facilitate communication.
When you’re running a remote team, however, there are no ‘water cooler’ conversations. There’s none of this:
So how can a remote team thrive? We’re really on the cusp of what’s available as new technologies emerge every day that can help foster remote communication. Conferencing software like Uber Conference, Zoom, LogMeIn, and more make it easy (and in some versions free!) to hold conferences with your team.
Messaging apps like Slack make it simple and fun to manage team communication, either one on one or in ‘rooms’ you can create. Using Blog Trackr as an example we have development rooms, product rooms, marketing rooms, and more to facilitate conversation on the team.
This one goes hand in hand with the above, but is worth having it’s on section.
You can have as many avenues for communication as you want, but if you are not using them then you’re on a quick road to going nowhere. When teams start holding on to information and not sharing it, you start running disjointed mini-companies rather than a unified force in the right direction.
Companies are a bit like ships – you need to push the ship in a single direction to be most efficient rather than have different forces pull at it or use multiple course-corrections. It’s when you’re moving in a unified direction you move fastest and most efficiently, running your team should be no different. When it comes to Blog Trackr, we try to overshare.
We share financial data. Marketing insights. Plans for the future. Product research – you name it we share it. We do this to be transparent because being transparent is good. But mainly we do it because we want everyone on our team to know exactly where our company is heading.
We have no illusions or rose-colored glasses about remote work. Remote employees can be great, but with great power comes great responsibility. Uncle Ben wasn’t just talking about superheroes, it applies to your remote teams as well.
I’ve worked from home and while the distraction of a noisy tea-sipper or the chatty desk neighbor may not be in my way, Netflix, Youtube, and my need for sleep are more than happy to take their place. When no one is watching over your shoulder it can be hard to stay motivated. Sure, I could clock in a bit later and clock out a bit earlier and no one would really notice but when the week ends and the work isn’t done or the quarter ends and goals are not met everyone notices. When you want to run a remote team, you need to ensure the people you hire are up to the challenge of working on it.
At Blog Trackr we look for entrepreneurially-minded individuals. People who value and respect autonomy. And people who have a track record of success and the attitude that they want to get sh*t done.
Pure and simple.
If someone doesn’t seem like a good fit- maybe they cut corners, or take the easy way out (there is a difference between the smart and easy way out) then we move on.
Our tips on running a remote team are by no means exhaustive, but it’s a start. The best and brightest people may not live in your city and that’s okay. Thanks to plenty of new technologies on the market and a few best practices to keep in mind you can turn your startup to a scale up with minimal real face time. Just make sure to keep the team alligned, communicate as often as you can, and put the right folks on the job.
What’s stopping you from getting your remote team up and running? Check out our post on recruiting team members to put some of your expansion efforts to practice.