An Insider’s Experience Working with a Remote Team
It is becoming increasingly common to employ remote workers. No matter where your team is based, there is the tyranny of time zones, distance, culture and remoteness, creating significant challenges for the agile and start-up businesses.
I have been successful in deploying teams of remote resources people across India, the Philippines, Sri Lanka, Europe and USA for many years.
Here are common issues, I get asked by people considering remote staff:
Whether remote work is changing how staff are welcomed and supported at the start of their roles?
Remote Work is becoming increasingly common as according to Thomas Friedman in his book The World is Flat, the main drivers of moving work to this mode are offshoring, outsourcing and technology.
Companies in the Philippines and India provide wholesale BPO or (business process outsourcing). Then there are project style platforms like Upwork or Freelancer that provide one-off or recurring remote resources.
If it’s BPO, then the provider has dedicated team and provide its own onboarding programs but if it’s the latter, then there are different mechanisms to welcome and support people, subject to location and the size of the remote team
- Video messages from the team leader or CEO. These can be short-form videos uploaded to Vimeo or YouTube and served to the new remote employee by way of private links. Messages include a welcome, the vision of the company and to the project or team
- For short task related teams, it’s more common for them to get a welcome and then get more short term video on the project
Serve this content via email, via collaborative software of SMS with short links to the comms piece.
Any advice for building company and team loyalty if staffs work in different countries?
Have teams of no more than 7 in number. Once they get to that split them into smaller and newer teams.
Remote is harder to manage as it is by definition remote.
The most important things are:
- Clear role definitions: job descriptions and expected deliverables, deadlines and lines or accountability must be even more clearly defined due to the tyranny of time zones and distance as, language and remoteness.
- The manager of the resource needs to check in early and often to ensure there is 110% comprehension and alignment here. If not then things will go awry all too quickly.
- Ideally, recruit people in similar time zones so they can be a port of the project induction and onboarding. When people are spread out geographically, the time zone issue alone makes it harder to manage live/synchronously.
- If there are not in the same time zone, record any training piece and then ensure the remote staff acknowledge they have watched the training. Eg its easy to do this with Zoom or Webex or GoToMeeting platforms.
- Use of collaborative platforms such as Trello, Asana, Slack or Google Docs helps people add to the project and keep the team focuses on the project.
Are there any risks to a fully remote workforce that employers should be wary of?
Biggest risks are:
- Lack of clarity of job role, expectations and deliverables.
- Abdication of vs delegation of responsibilities by manager.
- Cultural misunderstanding.
- Poor recruitment methods and getting the wrong person in the team in the first place.
How would you build rapport with staff if you have never met them in person? (One of the startups in this piece has a situation where not all staff have met each other because they work in different countries)
Encourage new people to share via private link video with the rest of:
- the things they like best or worst
- a fun fact about themselves
- a bit of their own history
- why they are involved in the project and what they can bring to it that they are excited about
Greg Weiss is Australia’s Leading Career Coach. He is the author of “So You Got The Job! WTF Is Next?”. The book prescribes a proven, practical 7-step framework for new employees so they succeed, rather than fail their probation periods and beyond. Find out more about the book at https://www.wtfisnext.wtf/
He is the Founder and Director of Onboff an online training and coaching platform that helps HR specialists, coaches and recruiters to deliver exceptional onboarding and offboarding experiences for employees.
He also hosts The Keep: The Employee Experience podcast and runs CareerSupport365.