How to make a remote team work for you
Remote Teams

How to make a remote team work for you

November 4, 2020
Kai Magsanoc

Working with a remote team has its upsides that can work for you and your business if you know how to run it.

COVID-19 came upon businesses like a thief in the night: unexpected, unwelcome, not (really) prepared for. As of writing, there has yet to be a proven effective vaccine. Until we are all sure that we are safe and protected from the virus that has taken so many lives since March 2020, the goal of many is simply to survive and live through it.

The same goes for businesses. Some businesses had to pivot and change their business model to immediately adapt to life with COVID-19; others had to bow out and resurrect as a different business that suits the ways of working that have been forced upon us. One way of working is one that involves remote teams.

This is where technology, commitment, and dedication are truly put to the test.

While remote working is not really new (the US conducted a telecommuting study on 2,000 federal workers in 1990, according to We Work Remotely), many businesses have been in denial until it was the only option. Sadly, there are still some who do not believe in remote workers — a very dangerous way of thinking in terms of health.

READ: 8 tasks you can hand over to an e-commerce remote assistant

What are the benefits of remote work?

1. Workers tend to put in more hours

Managers may have the initial thought or impression that working with remote teams benefits only the workers. This is incorrect. There are numerous data that show that having remote workers benefits managers and organizations.

In the State of Remote Work 2019 study by Owl Labs, they reveal that remote workers tend to work more than 40 hours per week compared to on-site workers:

Screenshot from Lighthouse

2. Workers appreciate the trust and flexibility

Working remotely means your staff does not have to waste time on long commutes with horrible traffic (not all of them have their own vehicles, and then there is the factor of weather and its effect on traffic).

Workers appreciate the fact that they can be flexible with their time and that they can work in a place where they are able to focus and work happily. This is apparent in Buffer’s 2020 State of Remote Work:

Screenshot from Lighthouse

3. Happy workers are highly productive workers

It is a fact that not all workers thrive in an office environment. Some are heavy thinkers who need peace and quiet. Others may have attention deficit disorder or are introverts who need their own space.

Other workers could be hands-on parents who need to balance work with raising their kids. Others could be suffering from a form of disability that makes it easier for them to work from home.

None of these circumstances affect the quality of their work and dedication, so long as we shift our management thinking to being output-based versus micromanaging. Our trust boosts our employees’ morale, too.

MIT Sloan School of Management’s Executive Education Department conducted a Quality of Life Survey. Then Dr. Peter Hirst of the same department designed a flexible work program, making remote work a common opportunity.

The results as published on Lighthouse are:

  • 90% reported their family and personal life improved
  • 85% said that their stress was reduced
  • 80% said that their morale and engagement improved
  • 62% felt more trusted and respected
  • 93% believed that collaboration was better than before

READ: How to hire a remote assistant for your real estate business

How to effectively manage remote workers

If tough love that involves yelling is your management style, then maybe you also need to change your mindset before you engage remote workers. Working remotely means you rely on the cold medium of chat to communicate and share information, which does not have the social cues of body language to help you understand each other better.

Empathy is key. Remember that people are working through a pandemic which means many other things could be going on at home. Hence, your job as a business owner, leader, or managing also involves patience, compassion, and care for their morale.

1. Hire people who do rather than wait

A bane of remote working is the word “wait,” when workers sit and wait for their to-do’s from you instead of proactively organizing themselves and showing you how they can work best with a system they designed for themselves.

2. Hire people you trust completely

Worrying whether remote workers are doing their job instead of focusing on business decisions you need to make now will cost your business more. So work with people you are confident will deliver even without you following up.

3. Hire people who can express themselves well in writing

Most of the communication in a remote work setting is done mainly through chat or email, so people who can express and articulate themselves clearly with the written word are important. You won’t always have time for a call or video.

4. Hire people who can work without the office interaction

Remote workers probably only have their chats as social interaction throughout the day (or their pets who accompany them as they work). Not all workers are designed for this; some need morale support they can physically see and feel.

BizScale has professionals you can hire for any business requirement, whether they be experts you need for a one-time engagement or virtual assistants who can support your business objectives for a given period of time. We also have bookkeepers who can make sure your business is always financially viable, and so much more.

The effective remote manager

Now we understand the pros of remote working and the kinds of people we need to hire if all we can afford right now are remote workers (and zero overhead).

What will guarantee that they will work well and that they will want to actively contribute even if they are working remotely? This is where you, the remote manager, comes in.

It goes back to basic goodness and decency on your part. You’ll get what you give.

1. Have open lines of communication. Your remote workers should know they can clarify anything with you anytime. But if there are differences in time zones, you can always reply to them as soon as you are able.

2. Have empathy. Remote work can sometimes be challenging, so the ability to place yourself in another person’s situation is key to addressing issues without drama or overreaction.

Screenshot from Weekdone

3. Have consistency. One of the more annoying traits of a remote manager is one who forgets what he/she said or gave as an instruction; one who cannot organize his/her own schedule; and one who does not do as he/she says. Lead by example.

4. Have patience. Onboarding a remote worker is not the same as onboarding a new staff member in a physical office. Be ready for learning curves. Understand that, while not all work the way you do, each person has something to offer.

5. Have appreciation. Business author Amy Rees Anderson said, “A person who feels appreciated will always do more than what is expected.” A virtual pat on the back can spell the difference and go a long way. Be generous with it.

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