The tricks to building a scalable remote team
I remember when I first found out that buffer is actually a 40-person, decentralized, worldwide team. Their product, content, social media presence and customer service would absolutely not suggest that. My mind was blown at how well they’ve been able to manage and – more importantly – scale a remote team into a flawless organization.
No overhead costs and hiring the best people around the world? Brilliant.
Cool, but I thought it was a rare case. Most offices I’ve worked in couldn’t get things done properly in the same room.
Then I joined a startup in Barcelona, Spain with a decentralized team and became a remote worker myself.
So, what do I think now? Well, I think it is absolutely possible to build an engaged, productive remote team and scale.
You just have to take these few things into consideration.
1.Hire the right type of person. Not everyone is meant for this
You’d think there’s no one who wouldn’t want flexible hours and to work from wherever they want, but surprisingly, that’s not true. There are more people than not who are not satisfied working remote and, as such, do not it as well. It takes a very autonomous and self-motivated person. Many people are motivated by a group, a physical office, and company they can physically see and be a part of. And that’s ok! It just means you need to hire the opposite. Here are our best tips on how to do so.
Some of the characteristics of those who kill it at remote work:
- They’re working on side projects
- They have experience with telecommuting in the past
- They have experience with solo projects
- They are quick communicators and use informal methods of communication
As you can see, some of these don’t exactly line up with the corporate employee personality. Remote employees are best a little unconventional, like remote work.
2. Develop great remote managers
Working online, it can be difficult to restrain yourself from micromanaging everything and “doing it all” yourself if you’re growing a remote team. It’s nerve-wracking when you feel distant to and not in control of the work going on. There comes a point where, just like in office, you’ll have to have others help delegate and manage other remote workers to keep things running smoothly, whilst also adding additional employees. Online, there’s actually a great opportunity for this, as daunting as it may seem.
Using a task management system with chat stream options makes it easy for you to keep in touch with managers and for you to get a quick overview of what each team is working on. We use Hibox to separate employees, remote and in office, by projects and departments. Employees can manage themselves in groups and are able to report easily what’s getting done with task lists.
3. Set a precedent for excellent communication
Communication is the make or break of any remote team or remote work situation. It requires ten times more conscientious and clear communication to work remote than in office. It’s so easy to forget that all of your thoughts have not been heard by the rest of the team when you’re behind a screen. Right away, you need to establish clear communication standards and routines. We use Hibox for all communication and simultaneous task management.
Some ideas that I’ve found work:
- Weekly video conference calls in Hibox
- Weekly goal sheets shared in Google Docs
- A main group stream for all announcements (made frequently to keep everyone involved with updates)
4. Scale using outsourcing and digital assistants
The best part about remote work is cutting costs on overhead. With a team that is used to communicating virtually, it’s also relatively easy to manage outsourcing and virtual assistants quite well. To scale your remote team to look like a team of 100 and save, try finding a few part-time assistants around the web to help you out with non-essential tasks.
Here are some of the best places to hire for just about anything:
I’ve found that when things start to lack in these three areas is when productivity starts to dip and frustration with remote work sets in for any remote team. Following these three guidelines, however, can help you build a remote team that is engaged, scalable, and incredibly productive. Any type of company can use remote work to cut costs, get the best talent, and scale faster than ever – not just trendy startups!