The rise of remote work is transforming the way we do business and paving the way for a new era of flexibility and productivity. Companies can cut down on operational costs, reach new markets, and hire the best talent from around the world. Remote teams no longer worry about commuting, work more efficiently, and have better flexibility between their work-life balance.
Needless to say, the perks of remote work are well-documented, but it can be difficult to establish the foundations of great remote working, or knowing where to begin on the journey from a more traditional working space.
We believe that remote working is a better way to run a business and makes sense for many, but it doesn't come without its challenges. There are several different aspects to take into consideration when planning or establishing a remote team, and this blog aims to break down the key factors through our own remote working experiences. So whether you're just starting out, or have already begun your journey, let our blog serve as your remote work guide through our learnings!
Tips for creating the best remote working environment
Establish your remote goals
It is well worth the time to consider whether you want work and communication to be conducted asynchronously, synchronously, or some ground in between. There exist pros and cons to any of these choices, and there is not one right answer. Building a vision for your company and then establishing these plans from the start with your team will set the right expectations to those in your company or looking to join your company.
Document everything, and then document it somewhere else again
If there is anything new founders and business leaders should take away from this article, it is the importance of documentation in remote working spaces, especially those taking a more asynchronous working/communication approach. Documentation must be easily accessible, organized, and referenced in more than one spot. I always tell my colleagues, for remote work there is no such thing as too much documentation. Over communicate and over document processes, references, projects, updates, etc.
For our team this looks like having a central tool for our internal documentation. We use Notion as the “RevPipes Wiki”. Even with documentation being made and stored here, we often reference memos or other sections of Notion on our communication and task management platforms.
Create unity in the way tools are used
What good are apps and software when everyone uses it differently, or there is a lack of use altogether? Make clear expectations and guidelines of how tools should be used, especially around documentation and project collaboration. Focus less on the nitty gritty details of every tool; instead outline key areas and functions that need to be used and how often (with reason) should everyone be checking in on each tool. Always leave room for individual preferences in each tool, as everyone has different needs.
For example, if your company uses Asana for project collaboration and task management, it is important to establish milestones and regularly use the status update functions in project boards. Team members are expected to stay up to date with their projects every week. It may be less important how task sections are organized or how each team member formats their tasks.
Results > Time
You want to know that your employees or contractors are getting the job done. What you're worried about is missing timelines and project deadlines, not how much time they spent working. When monitoring your team's progress, quality and completion are more valuable than measuring the time spent working on projects or tasks.
Managing a remote team
Implementing guidelines and setting expectations for remote working is only one piece of the puzzle. There is no “one perfect way” of how to structure a remote team, and it will look different for each company. As a leader, it is important to manage your remote team effectively and often evaluate whether the methods you have chosen to use for a remote environment are working for your specific team – or if they need some adjustments.
Lead by example
Internal processes will eventually fall apart if you are not following the guidelines you set for your company. The way in which your company chooses to communicate and use various tools may be different than what some people are accustomed to, especially if they have little experience with remote work. By demonstrating how you want your team to approach these areas in your company, you are not only motivating your team; you're also vulnerable to discover if there are any challenges that come up in the set guidelines. From here, you will have the opportunity to adjust where necessary.
Feedback is necessary
As previously mentioned, there is no one-size-fits-all approach for structuring a remote working company. Through experience and experimentation, there will be processes that work well and some that completely flop. The key here is receiving feedback from your whole team. Do so frequently and in a variety of ways, such as in a 1-1 discussion, an anonymous survey, and in group settings. Ask constructive questions:
- Does your team like their workflow and how projects progress?
- Do they have suggestions on how to improve certain processes or workflows?
- Are their tools that they suggest using over the ones you currently use? Do they have suggestions on how to improve the overall use of certain tools?
- What are some challenges they are facing with remote work?
- What are some challenges around your company’s processes?
- What are things they enjoy about remote working and the processes your company follows with remote work?
Maintaining best practices
Once you have reached a point with your company where you are in a good/stable spot with remote work processes, how can you ensure that these guidelines will stick? Again, you may be able to narrow down processes that work well, but always remain open-minded as they will often continue to evolve with time and as your company changes.
It's essential to periodically reflect on your progress and assess how well your remote work efforts are aligning with your goals. Take some time to consider where you started, where you are now, and where you want to be in the future. Be open and transparent about your team's progress, and involve them in discussions about how to improve and continue moving forward. This transparency will help your team feel more engaged and motivated to work together to achieve your shared goals.
Feeling remote work ready?
To conclude, remote work offers many benefits for businesses, but it is not without its challenges. Establishing a successful remote team requires careful planning and attention to several key factors such as documentation and assessing processes often. By focusing on these areas, business leaders can help their remote teams thrive.