Hiring remote workers can help you recruit talented professionals from across the United States -- or the world. Not being limited by geographic region means that you have a vast pool of qualified candidates to choose from. And because working from home is the dream for many, you may be able to attract some of the best and brightest.
But while having a remote staff brings ample benefits, there are challenges too. You want your workers to feel like part of one big team, even if they don't share a zip code -- and you want to ensure they're all working to exceed your expectations.
Fortunately, there are best practices to manage your remote team to foster success. Here are four tips to try.
1. Establish clear expectations from the start
One of the best things about having a remote workforce is that staff members must be judged on performance, not just face time. But for your remote workforce to succeed, it should be clear to all parties what your expectations are.
From day one, remote workers need to know the metrics for success... which means you need to know what objectives you want them to accomplish. Have an onboarding process just as you'd do for in-office workers and work with team members to set goals for each day, week, or quarter.
Ideally, goals should be quantifiable and measurable, like hitting a certain sales quota or writing a certain number of articles, so there's no ambiguity when determining if work is being done.
2. Use the right tools to stay connected
When you have a fully or partially remote team, communication is key. Fortunately, there are endless tools to manage projects and to "meet up" for some face-to-face time. Trello or Jira can help you keep on top of tasks, for example, while Slack facilitates informal chats and Zoom is ideal for meetings.
Every team has different needs, but the important thing is to develop appropriate channels of communication to facilitate collaboration and encourage team members to speak up with questions, concerns, or innovative ideas.
3. Engage in team-building activities
For remote workers to be invested in the success of your company, they need to feel they're actually part of a team. Fortunately, positive company cultures can be built even when your team crosses multiple time zones.
The key to team building with a remote workforce is to invest time and energy in making connections outside of formal business meetings.
One of the best companies I ever worked for had a 100% remote workforce -- and a strong team because they hosted virtual happy hours on Fridays, started weekly meetings talking about weekend activities, and did fun team-building activities like step contests using company-provided Fitbits.
There are lots of ways to encourage informal connections, whether that means starting a company book club, having everyone post pictures of their pets in a special Slack channel, or chatting about everyone's favorite movies during Zoom sessions. Whatever you do, just make sure you're somehow providing a virtual "water cooler" for staff members to make connections.
4. Provide the support remote workers need to succeed
Remote workers also need to know you're invested in their success if you want them to give the job their all.
This can mean providing funds for remote staff to buy office equipment and tools; paying for workers to attend conferences to meet industry professionals; or providing a monthly stipend to pay for educational materials so staff members are incentivized to keep learning.
Your remote workforce can exceed your expectations
By establishing your expectations and making remote workers part of the team, you're likely to find that a remote staff excels. Companies are increasingly hiring remote workers to reap the benefits of access to a nationwide talent pool, and your business can jump on the bandwagon now that you're equipped to manage a remote team effectively.