Remote and location independent work is becoming more common in Australia and across the globe, and can be a lifesaver for start-ups in countries with high salaries. ComplyX is a service provider to the financial services with a combination of onshore and offshore staff, and over the last 3 years we have been slowly working on perfecting the art of managing diverse and remote teams.
Project management is stressful enough, but managing remote projects adds an extra layer of complexity in juggling timezones, not to mention people management, when you can’t actually see your people. Whilst we certainly experienced teething problems, at ComplyX we have managed to build a successful remote team that works seamlessly with our onshore staff. The tips in this article are shared from experience to help other businesses owners with their remote teams.
1. Plan everything before you hire
Before you bring on remote employees, you need to plan how you will manage their work and communications. Research the systems that other companies are using and speak to business owners about what type of communication works for them. You will also need to consider basics like internet access, how to pay your offshore employees, and whether their country has cultural holidays that you will need to incorporate into your business schedule. Only once you have researched every detail should you advertise for the new positions.
2. Build the right team
The right people will be integral to a successful offshore team. Rather than solely considering cost, write out your ideal employee’s skills and values and search for people who fit this mould. Ideally, your new team will have experience working remotely, however it is more important to hire people that you can trust to complete assigned work to the best of their ability.
3. Build relationships
As you bring on more staff, either onshore or remotely, work on building relationships between yourself and the team. With an “open-door” approach, your team will grow to trust you and be open with any problems, saving you time and money down the line.
4. Create a team atmosphere
It’s easy to feel isolated when working remotely, and this can lead to a drop in productivity and lack of motivation. If your budget allows, organise for your team to travel and meet in a single location prior at least once per year so that they can get to know one another and build a sense of team companionship.
If your budget does not allow for team travel, there are still ways you can promote a team culture. Use videoconferencing rather than phone calls so that your team can get to know each other visually, and encourage online social interaction through team competitions and apps such as Slack or Yammer.
5. Use communication & tracking software
There are a huge array of tools available allow remote communication between teams. Try Slack or Trello for instant messaging organised into threads, Skype for online chat and video calls, G-Suite tools to share updates and BaseCamp to manage time and costs. For smaller teams and projects, you could even get by with just Excel, G Suite and Skype. The important point is that your team commit using the tools as a part of the normal work day, so any member of staff could pick up their work in the case that they are absent or leave the role.
Setting up a remote team can be daunting, but it is a major opportunity for Australian businesses to help get started at low cost. The tips in this article will help in the initial stages of set-up, just remember that communication is key as your team grows and you will be set for success.