How to lead remote work teams: three steps to effectiveness

Stating that companies and professionals are increasingly choosing remote work teams is not a matter of opinion –it’s a fact

As Morgan Stanley points out in this article, the remote work shows the fastest growth of EU (European Union) labor market, considering that the number of freelancers doubled between 2000 and 2014. Something similar occurs in U.S., where freelancers already represent 35% of the nation’s workforce, and this figure could exceed 50% by 2027.

According to Google trends, search terms such as “remote work” and “hiring freelancers” have increased their popularity by 200% over the last five years, mostly in Latin America. Similar terms in English have experienced a search increase of up to 400%.

However, having a higher demand of independent professionals doesn’t mean that building remote work teams is free of some specific challenges.

For instance, many business people and entrepreneurs don’t dare give it a try as they feel they’re going to lose control of their procedures. And some others who’ve already tried out this working style have faced leadership or communication problems.

All the same, the potential setbacks of hiring a remote work team are really low if compared to its many advantages. Besides, those risks might be reduced or even removed with best practices for remote leadership.

The advantages of a remote work team is not just related to the comfort and living standards of your workers but also with saving up to 35% on recruitment needs.

As a way of example, Forbes points out that companies that manage remote employees start to enjoy from:

  • Costs reduction and cash flow increase.
  • More productive, diverse and creative work teams.
  • Schedule flexibility and happier workers.
  • Great availability of specialized talents.

The magazine also highlights that remote work teams tend to be more innovative and productive than traditional employees, as they perform within a technologic environment which allows them to optimize their time.

What’s more, a recent survey has proven that remote work minimizes attrition rates (therefore, its costs), and to workers, it outweighs the income issue when they are given the chance to keep their jobs.

In this article, we’ll give you some advice about successfully managing remote employees, so that you can fully profit from it.

We’ll first focus on the myth of lack of commitment of remote workers, which is why many entrepreneurs avoid taking a chance with freelancers to boost their business.

The myth of lack of commitment of remote workers

The most common myths that we hear about remote work have to do with lack of control, communication and commitment. However, these problems are not related to remote work itself but to bad management of work on the whole.

According to a research by consulting firm Kronos, lack of commitment of on-site workers is mainly due to:

  • Their incapacity to balance work and life.
  • Bad communication with their line managers.
  • Unrealistic deadlines for their work loads.
  • Being demanded to perform tasks not related to their job duties.

Actually, remote work has the potential to tackle the most frequent causes of lack of commitment and low productivity, because:

  • It allows workers to have a better time management.
  • It uses technology to keep efficient communication channels.
  • It’s goals-oriented, within agreed deadlines.
  • The worker is focused only on their duties.

Above any other form of employment, well-managed remote work can lead us to real productivity and commitment. In order to achieve that, we have to follow the three steps to effectiveness.

How to successfully manage remote employees? The three essentials to effectiveness

The three basic essentials of effectiveness pose a management strategy based on a triad of virtues that feed off each other and let you keep fluent, efficient and motivating work processes. They consist of:

1. Trust

This means giving each worker clear assignments and responsibilities, but also making sure that each of them understands how their non-compliance would impact on the rest of the team or even on the global project.

An environment of trust allows workers to feel free to make their own decisions, but also to be fully accountable for their own performance. According to specialists on human talent from Acsendo, trust is one of the key components of motivation.

Building trust in remote work teams means a high level of communication and above anything else, it means having very clear objectives and goals, providing accurate feedback on the go, and encourage relationships based on respect and empathy.

2. Communication

Assertive communication with a remote team means using technologic tools to communicate fluently, orderly and straight-forwardly with your employees.

Whenever possible, choose the “workchats” of special apps for teamwork  (Slack, Workplace on Facebook, Evernote, among others), since there you can hold individual work chats with each freelancer or with the team by project.

Don’t forget to take down written note of every agreement from your virtual meetings and avoid the never-ending ping pong of files and their corrections through email. Instead of that, use the cloud and shared documents.

3. Motivation

Motivation within a remote work team means that your employees firmly believe in the advantages of doing their best so they are genuinely committed to your project.

A good freelancer is highly oriented to commitment, but there’s no harm in keeping your team about individual and team achievements, providing assertive feedback and encouraging healthy competition.

Frequent, positive reinforcement can also prove very important to keep ongoing motivation. You can offer this sort of reinforcement by simply sending a message to acknowledge every time that your employees finish an important assignment. Go and explore positive feedback!

How should you monitor the assignments of your remote team?

Besides the three basic essentials of effectiveness, there are some other points you might take into consideration to successfully manage and monitor the assignments of your remote employees:

Identify whether you can deal with your own workload plus the team management. Remember that managing a remote team means dedicating additional time and effort to your daily duties. Many project leaders do not just manage but they also have some key role within the project and they end up overloaded with work.

That is why it is of vital importance to assess from a realistic perspective whether you’ll be able to be on top of everything. Otherwise, you can always count on a virtual assistant on Workana to help you out.

Use specialized apps for team working

There are lots of online apps, for free or paid, which can help you keep communication and control of remote work. Among them you’ll find Trello, Asana, Google Drive, Evernote, etc.

For instance, on Asana you can create group projects with allocation of tasks and deadlines, so that each of your employees knows exactly what they have to do and when it should be delivered. Besides, the app allows them to identify their role on the workflow, and resorts to positive reinforcement every time a task is fulfilled. In this way, it helps you keep good levels of motivation and responsibility.

Use shared work files

Files shared on the cloud let you see the progress of your employees in real time and also make changes or comments without generating new files. Another option, mostly if you work on an hourly pay basis, is using the tool Workana Time Report.

It’s a very light and safe software that your employees have to download to their computers, enabling to monitor their work through screenshots during the time they state to be spending on your project.

Conclusion

Hiring a remote work team is one of the best ways to contribute to your business growth, reducing costs, having access to top talents and promoting a healthy shift in the labor pattern.

Workana is a platform where you can find freelancers and rest assured about their expertise, knowing that they are used to an efficient style of remote communication and that they are highly motivated to build solid long-term working relationships.

If you’re still doubtful, please get to read about some of our success stories from SMEs owners who have embraced remote teamworking, among them, the case of Mindvalley Hispano e Innominatum.

 

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