Even as digital nomadism is on the rise, it is clear that companies are caught between an incredible opportunity and rampant uncertainty. On the one hand, working with a remote team can be far cheaper than hiring in-house employees as it allows an organization to forgo setting up costly infrastructure. A company will also need to only pay for work done and not a fixed income which not only saves them money, but is well known to increase productivity, too.
Though the advantages of having a remote team are well understood, getting it to work is anything but. For starters, working with people on the other side of the globe means knowing how to adapt to disparate time zones. No doubt, having a team in different time zones means that your company can work round the clock, however, making all those different time zones adhere to one deadline is going to be a significant challenge.
Next, a remote team is going to be made up of people with diverse cultural backgrounds. In such cases, the common sense of one culture often doesn’t apply to that of another. Simple phrases and metaphors that can seem harmless to one person can be interpreted as rude and insulting by another. Since most communication is via text messages and email, it can be hard for a recipient to envision what the writer had intended.
If any of these challenges sound familiar, then you’re not alone. Making a remote working work is easily one of the bigger work culture issues facing modern industry, but not one’s that’s insurmountable. Let’s take a look into how you can dodge some of the more prevalent issues and get yourself a stellar remote team…
- Communicating With a Remote Team
- Monitoring a Remote Team’s Performance
- Scheduling With a Remote Team
- Remote Teams are the Future
Communicating With a Remote Team
As your team is no longer around you to ask for directions if they need to, you can end up wasting a great deal of time explaining and fine tuning things. Instructions are rarely immediately received and it usually takes a few back and forth over email to help sought out issues. And since it can take some time for people to respond to emails, you can be looking at significant timeloss. The problems don’t stop there. Differences in personal and cultural expressions can lead to misinterpretation, and let’s not forget that body language is no longer a part of the conversation.
The use of cloud based collaboration software can help to a degree as it can consolidate all your communication under one roof. Not only can each project can be managed from one central location, but managers can get a snapshot of the entire direction their efforts are taking with the help of advanced, customizable dashboards.
Fostering a culture of communication also becomes paramount when working with a remote team. Simply using authority, brute force and one-time instructions to get things done can prove to be a fatal mistake here. It’s best to expect miscommunication and ensure that your remote workers are communicating as much as possible. Setting up weekly teleconferencing meetings to conduct check-ins and coaxing your team members to ask as many questions as they feel can greatly help ease them into a project. If at all possible, get your team together once a year so that they may meet each other face to face.
Monitoring a Remote Team’s Performance
The elephant in the (digital) room is of course – performance. How can a company effectively monitor an employee’s work when they’re not even in their premise? And since it’s well known that enhancing productivity of regular in-house employees is hard enough, then doing it with remote workers then be over level 9000 difficult, right? Sort of.
Firstly, with a remote team, it’s virtually impossible to track what each employee is doing. Yes, cloud based productivity solutions can help you keep tabs on a team, but there are plenty of ways around every technical solution. Not to mention, no one will like the idea of being monitored.
The only solution left is to focus on the deliverables. For instance, Best Buy implemented the ROWE (Results Only Work Environment) model created by Cali Ressler and Jody Thompson where the company tracked only the output of each employee rather than their presence. And, boy did it work! Wasted time was reduced by 35%, while employees reported being more satisfied at the end of the day.
This doesn’t mean that you should stop bothering with time tracking altogether. You need to know how many hours it took to bill your clients and find inefficiencies. Rather, time tracking is simply a small part of a larger productivity equation, so, it’s best to use it for what it’s worth and move on.
Scheduling With a Remote Team
Speaking of tracking time, working with people in different parts of the world is bound to present more than a few hurdles. The biggest one being how do you arrange virtual meetings when it may be 2 AM for one of your colleagues?
If you are using spreadsheets to monitor deadlines, then you will need to include all the different time zones and understand how they correlate with your own local time. This only becomes more tedious when you factor in delays, answering to customer queries and crucial emails.
Cloud based time tracking tool can help you out greatly here. Runrun.it for instance can automatically factor in different time zones. When signing up, each user has to enter their respective location which sets their time in the system clock. So, while you may assign a task and expect to receive it in your local time, the user it is assigned to will see the hours corrected to their own time zone.
This way, you do not have to spend any additional mental bandwidth on managing an exceedingly complex schedule as the software does it all for you in the background. Furthermore, alerts are automatically sent to a worker when a task is due and managers can see all time spent on a project in their dashboards.
Remote Teams are the Future
Given the advantages of lower costs, higher productivity and greater flexibility, remote working is bound to gain greater acceptance. Not only can this trend help companies unlock their potential like never before, but it can also melt boundaries and bring people closer together. Working in a remote team opens us up to new perspectives and knowledge, paving the way for greater creativity and assimilation of ideas. And while the new opportunity comes with its own set of challenges, they are by no means insurmountable.
Runrun.it is all about enabling companies to expand their horizons and unlock new potential by accessing talent globally. We have built a suite of tools that can help you not only bring together people, but help them coordinate their efforts effortlessly. Don’t take our word for it. We have a free trial running so do take a look inside.