Myths vs. Reality: Managing a Remote Team

Myths vs. Reality: Managing a Remote Team

Across the globe, thousands of companies and their employees have proven that work can get done anywhere, anytime.

The ability to hire top talent without being limited by geographic location, is very attractive to companies, which is why many are turning to a remote workforce in increasing numbers.

There was a 26 percent increase in open remote job postings in 2014 compared to 2013, proving that remote work is continuing to trend upward.  However, some business owners are hesitant to seriously consider leveraging a remote workforce– even though this type of work model has proven to be highly effective time and again. Why?

These 4 myths about managing a remote workforce are often at the root of their resistance. Let’s take a closer look at each one and get to the reality behind what really happens.

Myths vs. Reality: Is it really that hard to manage a remote team? Click To Tweet

Myth 1: Anyone can work remotely

Although the concept of remote work may sound attractive to many, it certainly isn’t for everyone. It all starts with hiring the right people. As Jim Collins writes in his book, Good to Great, “Start not with ‘where’ but with ‘who.’ Start by getting the right people on the bus (your company), the wrong people off the bus, and the right people in the right seats.

Hiring those who are motivated, resilient, confident and strong communicators are all key characteristics of a remote worker. These workers likely need or want to work from home (or a co-working space), know how to work and collaborate as a team.

At Acceleration Partners, one of our core values is Genuine Partnership. We recognize and celebrate our team members who make genuine connections with not only their clients, but their peers. Cultivating this core value has helped us create a culture of people who genuinely want to help and support one another – even if it doesn’t directly benefit them or their department.

Myth 2:  You can’t foster a strong culture in a remote environment

Companies are increasingly putting a high value on culture, but what exactly does culture mean? Ping-Pong tables, free snacks and beer on tap?  Not quite.

Culture is about having happy, productive employees who enjoy what they do, why they do it, and who they are doing it with and for. Engaged and happy employees are the foundation for a successful and sustainable-growth business. There are several ways to foster a collaborative, productive, and dare I say fun, culture in a remote environment:

  • Create a culture deck that is visual representation of your company’s visions, values and the expected behaviors of your team.
  • Conduct face-to-face meetings to bond and create memories
  • Be transparent. Leadership that is transparent, credible, respectful, and fair, fosters a culture of trust

Building and developing a strong remote culture is not easy, nor a one-person job. But neither is building a great culture in a physical work environment. It takes a leadership team that is invested, engaged and naturally able to lead by example. Top-down, everyone needs to be in sync for your culture to grow roots and prosper.

Myth 3: It’s difficult to communicate with your staff

Thanks to advances in technology, open, engaged communication between remote workers has never been easier. Today’s software, hardware, and other tools can support advanced information sharing and make communication easy. For example, some of the latest and greatest software we use at Acceleration Partners include:

  • Skype allows staff to communicate in real time through phone call, video call or chat. From daily communication on projects and sending files to simply saying good morning to peers or seeing how their weekend was, Skype is a great tool for everyday use.
  • Zoom video and web conferencing can be used for internal company calls or client calls and allows people to only see each other, but also share screens, making it easier to interact and collaborate.
  • TinyPulse uses anonymity and simplicity to assess how workers feel about everything from their job and team members, to what they’d like to see from the company’s leadership team. Staff can also address any issues/concerns they might have or even send “cheers” to their peers to recognize hard work or thank them for being such great team members.
  • Project management software such as Basecamp and Asana help to increase productivity and share files

Myth 4: Remote workers get distracted and work less

This myth actually circles back to myth number 1 – not every person is fit for a remote job. If you put in the time and effort to hire the right people, where and when they work should not be important. Having employees who are accountable, responsible and self-managed is what helps to create a successful, trustworthy remote environment.

Most people are more productive outside of the office. In a national survey, 86% of people responded saying they prefer to work alone to reach maximum productivity. Founder of Basecamp and author of Remote: Office Not Required, Jason Fried, compares work to REM sleep – they are both phase-based events. Your body goes through phases before falling into a deep sleep and you can’t get a good night of sleep if your interrupted the entire time. That same notion applies to work. How can we expect employees to work well if they get interrupted all day at the office?

By managing your team based on results, rather than the number of hours they put in, you give your staff the flexibility they want and need, but also hold them accountable to deliver those results.

Now that you’re aware of the realities behind each of these myths, I hope you are able to see the potential advantages of developing a remote team and perhaps even start exploring how you might incorporate remote workers within your organization.

Now that you know managing a remote team is possible, check out how to hire and onboard new people who will help you take your business to the next level.

 

This post by Robert Glazer of Acceleration Partners is part of Hubstaff’s “Remote Work Month” series. In them, some of the most authoritative sources in the world of remote work, share their best advice on how to succeed as a professional, and a team, while telecommuting. Follow and participate in the discussion on Twitter with #goremote.

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