How to find and manage the best remote team
I’ve been working remotely in New York – far away from HQ in Barcelona for Hibox – for almost a whole year now. Hibox’s team is diverse and spread across four countries. And you know what? It works really well for us. We half got lucky and half made our own luck. We have the right tools for productive and organized remote work. But most importantly, we sought out the right people.
The business world is quickly going remote. 30% of workers will be remote in some capacity in the next few years. Remote work saves money both directly in the form of overhead costs, and indirectly in the form of lower attrition rates.
Aside from technological capacity, who you choose to fill remote positions is critical. Nailing the combination of technical skill, self-motivation, and culture fit isn’t easy. With the lack of training time and face-to-face rapport building, there’s little room for error. Luckily, there is a whole new workforce emerging who fill remote roles more naturally than ever.
In our experience, there are some promising tools and methods that have helped connect us with some of the strongest members of our remote team.
Find a team:
AngelList, WeWorkRemotely.com, and WorkingNomads.co:
Since the market of remote workers and freelancers out there has absolutely exploded, there are some really cool sites built just for the purpose of connecting enthusiastic remote employees with companies who need people who know how this works. WorkingNomads.com has a really easy to understand system for doing just that in all areas of business. The most popular remote positions (likely because of their nature) are content management (me) and design positions. There’s no shortage. WeWorkRemotely is the same concept, just a bit more expensive to post. At Hibox, we prefer to train employees at HQ before going full-time remote. I found Hibox through AngelList and consequently did my first few months at HQ. AngelList, “where the world meets startups”, is great for us because, well, we’re a fast moving startup and it helps us attract the right sort of person and talent to match our culture.
Congrats, we’re past step one. From our experience, step two is the most critical to making the whole flow of a remote team work. We actually prefer to onboard in person for two months at HQ to build rapport that lasts through years of remote work. You have to get all the technical information as well as the personal stuff taken care of during this window. The faster you can get someone productively working on their schedule with yours, the better. Sharing one Google Drive doc folder with all the technical information to help employees answer questions themselves has been a big one for us. We use a chat platform (which I’ll get a little more into later) for all work related communication so conversation is as natural feeling as possible and we can get answers and discuss anything immediately. Like with any position, there’s a learning curve. Cloud App is a screen capture GIF creator we use to make little GIFs of how to do technical parts of our process to new employees. We have them saved to send at any time. Wasted time in disjointed communication and misunderstanding is the kiss of failure for any new remote work arrangement.
Build a digital office:
Like I mentioned before, our team uses a chat platform. Actually, we use our own platform for work. Hibox is chat, task management, and video calling all in one. Honestly, I don’t know how other teams work with remote employees without it. One of the biggest challenges of moving work out of the traditional office space, is you decentralize communication and information. There’s a lot more potential for mistakes, miscommunications, and multiple versions of files. By keeping chat, tasks, and files in the same place, we eliminate that issues. Other vital tools include Google Drive and Dropbox (we integrated these into Hibox) that are the same concept – a central digital space.
Keep business personal:
One thing we know is certain: working with freelancers and taking on a remote employee are totally different. Freelancers are in and out, an outsourced task. Working with a remote employee is an ongoing partnership, in which they’re continuously contributing to the direction of the company. It’s vital to make sure they know what’s going on and their place within the company, despite the distance. I think we do a really good job at this. I mean, I know, because I’m one of the remote ones and I still feel like I have a really good connection with HQ on a constant basis. Our full-company group chat stream has been really instrumental in keeping everyone informed, introducing new employees, and bonding as a remote group daily. Video chat should never go underutilized as well. No only is face-to-face time best for certain types of brainstorming and discussion, it’s still the best way to stay personally connected. Sometimes we schedule calls just to catch up if it’s been awhile. Don’t discount it.
Over time, these little things have made a huge difference in the overall success of our remote team. If you’re looking for a digital workspace that sets you and your new remote employees up for success like ours, check out Hibox.