Among the many perks of working remotely, some of the most popular include no long commutes to work, access to a larger talent pool, being able to work your own home (or anywhere), and lower overhead.
Today, more and more employers are allowing their teams to telecommute, either occasionally or full-time. Our company, Firefly Partners, a digital marketing agency for non-profits, has been fully remote since our founding in 2008.
Even with all of those benefits, being a location-independent team does come with challenges. How do you meet with team members? How do you ensure people are accountable? How do you create team spirit? How do your team members get to know and trust each other? These are all realities that we have worked hard to conquer at Firefly, and we’re proud of the results (both within our team and with our clients).
Whether you currently have a remote team or are considering the option, here are four tips for ensuring that your location-independent team succeeds.
Remote Team Tip 1: Communication is key.
Communication is important in any sort of work environment, but it’s even more so in a remote one.
The face-to-face interactions that happen naturally in a traditional shared office are gone. Instead, you need to choose your method of communication based on what you are trying to communicate. For example, short, easy to understand messages might work in an instant messenger, but longer discussions might require a phone call. Figure out what method works best for the message you’re sending, and use the tools you have to connect with one another optimally and often.
There can also be a higher risk of misunderstandings in a remote environment. Take the time to think about your messages and convey them clearly—even on your fast-paced days!
For five tips about how to effectively leading your team, check out this blog post.
Remote Team Tip 2: It’s a different company culture.
Let’s be honest: There will be times when remote work is isolating. Some people are not a good fit for this way of working, and that’s okay. To have a strong remote team, you need to find people who will thrive in this environment.
Be sure, though, not to send your team off to their virtual corners and never reach out to them again Team members need plenty of opportunities to engage with one another.
Checking-in often doesn’t come naturally in a remote setting, so you need be proactive and schedule regular times to touch base with your team members—and both with their work lives and their “out-of-office” lives.
Remote Team Tip 3: Find ways to stay accountable.
Our team at Firefly spans three time zones—and sometimes more! This has helped us find and retain great talent, though juggling so many work schedules can be challenging. When is each member of your team working? You need to always know!
In addition to tracking your team’s work hours, you also need some way of tracking productivity.
Nobody wants to be micromanaged; however, productivity tracking can help keep a team on task and focused. Plus, it helps easily aware of where projects stand.
Remote Team Tip 4: Trust your team.
You already do your best to hire people who are the right fit for your organization. The surprising challenge for a remote team leader is simply to trust them to do their jobs—even when you can’t see them doing it. Don’t use Skype statuses of off-hours emails to prove how hard they work; let the proof come from the results of the work they do.
Creating a collaborative atmosphere is important for team morale, and it will also motivate your team to be productive. After all, no one wants to let their team down! The understanding of “you have my back and I have yours” is crucial to our success as both teammates and as a business at Firefly.
What are some of the challenges you’ve faced working or managing remotely? Share with us in the comments.
Could you and your remote team use some help making your digital marketing goals a reality? Click here to set up a free consultation with Firefly Partners.