The COVID-19 pandemic accelerated a trend that was already underway, namely the move to remote work. Nearly every industry has been impacted by this culture shift, making remote work increasingly an employee expectation. If your company’s been toying with the idea of going fully remote, it’s an endeavor worth pursuing. Companies that offer remote work can attract the best talent, reduce overhead costs, and retain satisfied, engaged employees.
However, traditional on-site companies may not know where to start, making the transition to a remote team seem like a big feat. While you may not have a time-tested road map at the ready, there are three things to consider before you switch.
1. How Remote Can Your Team Be?
When your company recruits new talent, most candidates maintain a home base within driving distance. But when you open up your talent pool to remote workers, prepare yourself. Applicants are likely to inundate you with resumes. This can be a welcome problem, but it also poses an important question — how remote can applicants be?
Traditionally, to recruit global talent, you’d need to offer sponsorship to immigrate. But if remote work is an option, you may be able to hire otherwise inaccessible talent. If your organization would benefit from global recruiting, consider using global payroll providers to manage the complexity. This added resource can help ensure you comply with foreign laws and regulations for your global hires.
Additionally, you’ll want to determine whether your remote team members can be nomadic. Many people with a penchant for remote work also love to travel, meaning their portable workstations may cross the globe. Depending on your line of business, the security needed, and technology requirements, your approach may differ.
Meet with your leadership team and technical experts to develop parameters and best practices for your remote team. Ideally, you’ll define overarching rules for your organization. However, some roles can be hard to fill and may require specific considerations. If your primary employees must reside or work within your country’s boundaries, it can make filling specialized roles difficult. Create criteria for exceptions, and share the need for different rules with candor, providing transparency for your team.
2. What Hours Will Your Distributed Team Maintain?
With the flexibility of remote work, many employees find themselves logging on in the wee hours of the morning. This found time may boost individual productivity, but it can put a pinch on real-time collaboration. Assess your organization’s collaboration needs, customer availability, and work types to determine scheduling requirements.
If it’s clear your business requires core hours of operations, consider pinpointing a range of hours that are manageable across time zones. Defining core hours where team members are signed on and available to collaborate can improve efficiency. Employees can plan their days knowing when meetings might be scheduled and reserve off-hours for deep work.
Global teams have found that asynchronous work makes collaborating across time zones effective. With no core hours defined, team members can start and end work when it best suits them. Those who find peak productivity outside of the traditional 9-to-5 can thrive without a rigid framework. To be most effective, asynchronous teams must develop collaboration processes and procedures. They can no longer tie these to 1:1 communication.
No matter your choice, make organizational expectations and needs clear for everyone. Ensure customers know when your front-facing team will be available. Set expectations on the best ways to connect, collaborate, and share information. Collaboration tools, messaging systems, and shared databases all allow teams to work together, no matter the hour.
3. How Will You Manage Equipment, Training, and Team Building?
In an in-person setting, getting a new hire up and running is arduous enough. Day-long onboarding sessions, desk setups, and equipment assignments can quickly absorb the new hire’s time and that of their colleagues. But when your company is fully remote, what’s the best way of integrating a new team member?
Remote teams will have to develop processes that manage both the business risk and employee needs. Technology teams must collaborate with human resources to develop guides for setting up equipment and ensuring information security. If there are security requirements associated with work location, work station, or connectivity, you’ll need to identify them now. Develop a guide that covers how you’ll deliver equipment, communicate expectations, and provide guidance for self-installation.
Create a robust remote training and onboarding program that involves more than a day-long webinar. Develop an onboarding dashboard that enables new employees to access benefits, commonly used business tools, and company news. Work with your internal communications team to create a strategy that centralizes information and resources for recent hires.
Thankfully, a remote workplace eliminates the threat of team-building events full of trust falls. However, work distributed across locations doesn’t negate the need for solid relationships. Remote work increases the need for high-performing, collaborative teams. These teams trust one another to accomplish their work on time.
Facilitate team-building opportunities in a way that makes sense for your organizational culture and job types. Host a hackathon focused on an aspirational business need to spark creativity and collaboration in a fun environment. Shared experiences like this create lasting bonds that can result in more cohesive and effective teams.
Launching Your Fully Remote Workforce
Now that you’ve considered all the details, it’s time to go remote, right? You may have thought about your transition to remote work backward and forward, but the process doesn’t end there. Launch your remote work plan with a strategy, schedule, and opportunities for feedback. Prepare for issues to arise, and commit to managing them with patience.
While few things in life are guaranteed, you’ll likely encounter situations that require a pivot. When that happens, work with your leadership team throughout the transition and discuss employee feedback. Adjust your approach as real-life issues make themselves known, flexing just as remote teams are known to do.
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