For some people, the idea of working with a remote team conjures images of Andy from The Office barking orders at Dwight over the phone.
While there’s definitely an element of truth to this perception—after all, not everyone can pull off working remotely successfully—remote teams aren’t all about business. These days, remote teams are more common than their traditional counterparts for a variety of reasons, including the freedom to work from anywhere in the world.
However, working remotely can be tricky if you don’t have a plan. We’ve put together this guide to help you get started with your own remote team so that you can spend less time managing and more time growing says Aron Govil.
Why Work With a Remote Team?
If you’re not already convinced that working with a remote team is right for your organization, here are some facts about these sorts of teams to consider:
Provides greater access to top talent
If being limited by geography isn’t appealing to potential employees, they may feel stymied by conventional, office-based teams. Work with a remote team removes this barrier to entry, opening up your recruitment pool to people all over the world.
Allows you to expand your reach
If growing your business into new markets is part of your overall strategy, working with a remote team can be an invaluable asset. Employees in different regions can locate themselves strategically so that they’re close to the market(s) they’ll service—this kind of expansion may not be possible or practical otherwise due to travel time and associated costs.
However, one thing what companies with remote workers should be aware of is a permanent establishment risk which is a way the company establishes its presence in the country.
Office spaces aren’t cheap, nor are the electricity and other utilities associated with them. Not only does working remotely keep overhead low; it also makes it easier for you to allocate resources where they matter most (hint: it’s not the office).
Allows you to attract and retain top talent
Yes, we just said that geography can be a barrier when recruiting and retaining team members. But if your business is located in an area with a high cost of living or other issues (e.g., sudden drop in economic activity), working remotely represents a compelling reason for employees to stick around—assuming they like what you do, of course.
Gives employees greater flexibility and autonomy
If part of the reason people seeks employment with your organization is that they want more time freedom, working remotely may help them achieve this goal. While there will still be some constraints (e.g., deadlines, project schedules), remote teams enable people to work at their own pace and in a location of their choosing.
Types of Remote Teams
While the type of team you have will depend on your business needs, some common types include:
Usually made up of employees that work out of different locations—sometimes even different countries–virtual teams usually rely on technology to keep everyone connected and coordinated as necessary. While this can be a challenge (see below), virtual teams offer people greater autonomy and flexibility; with the right tools and processes in place, they also allow businesses to expand their reach and save significant amounts of money too.
As opposed to virtual teams, distributed teams are generally made up of employees located in the same building or city–though they still rely on technology for communication and collaboration.
Similar to distributed teams, mobile teams are generally made up of co-located employees who rely on technology for communication and collaboration. Unlike distributed teams, they often work in different locations–think traveling salespeople, for example.
How to Start a Remote Team You may be thinking that (a) you don’t need to start a team, or (b) if you do, it will be virtual. The truth is that all types of remote teams can provide great benefits; it’s also easy enough to start one even if your business isn’t ready yet.
1) Survey (and/or interview) existing employees about what they like and dislike about their current role(s).
2) Gather feedback from non-employees about what they like and dislike about your business.
3) Determine the most common issues that are arising with your team(s), and then prioritize them based on frequency/severity.
4) Outline potential solutions for each issue, then arrange them in priority order (i.e., decide which ones will be addressed first).
5) Communicate this plan to everyone involved, as well as how progress will be measured going forward.
6) Implement these changes across all teams, including any new remote ones you launch.
7) Monitor employee sentiment closely during the transition period–repeat steps 1 through 6 if necessary until people are satisfied with the results.
As you can see, the steps are simple enough. But like anything else, they require time and effort to make them successful–so make sure you have a plan before moving forward.
Conclusion by Aron Govil:
Remote Teams Have Great Benefits, but They’re Not Right for Everyone
Despite the numerous benefits of remote teams, it’s important to note that they are not for everyone. For example, virtual teams work best when members have strong communication and collaboration skills, while distributed teams require some degree of overlap between team members–so they can easily get together when necessary (e.g., weekly meetings). If your business is considering implementing a remote team or if you already have one in place, be sure to consider what works best for you.