Extended Guide for Building a Remote Team from Scratch

Sep 23, 2021
Extended Guide for Building a Remote Team from Scratch

In today’s climate, more and more companies are building remote teams. Not only can remote teams help bring in worldwide talent, but they can also help employers cut costs and avoid the stress and complications that come with having employees on site. Over 80% of remote workers feel less stress. Plus, the same percentage of millennials also desire the flexibility to work remotely. 

Building a remote team introduces some unique challenges. You will need to look for different qualities while hiring remote workers, invest in the right kind of training, and spend effort in creating a communicative and open work environment without anyone necessarily meeting face-to-face.

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Why A Remote Team?

As previously mentioned, remote teams can potentially cut costs drastically. If your company is all remote, then you do not have to pay out for an on-site building and company equipment. There is no rent and utilities to pay on a corporate building.

Oftentimes, it starts with some employees choosing to work from home. That is how Gitlab, the world’s largest all-remote company, began. Working from home offers freedom and flexibility to spend more time with family. As more of their employees chose to work at home, the need for an on-site team fizzled out. 

Whether you are starting and building an all-virtual team or making it a viable option, you need to plan, organize, and grow your remote team. This all starts with hiring the right people. 

Hiring For A Virtual Team

Hiring remote workers is tricky. There are few extra characteristics that you need to look for when hiring an employee for a remote position that you do not have to necessarily look for the same position that is on-site. Your employees are at the center of your business, so it’s really important to choose them wisely. 

Challenges of remote recruitment

There are few extra things to take into consideration when creating a remote team. One challenge is that you may not be able to conduct an in-person interview, making it more difficult to assess their abilities. Another thing to consider is that it is not just their technical abilities you need to pay attention to but also their ability to communicate virtually, work independently, and staying committed to their work. Lastly, due to employees being hired from various parts of the world, it is extremely difficult to make any comparisons between their education, professional certificates, or other received credentials.

How To Hire A Virtual Team Member

If you want to build a virtual team, then you need to pick the right people for the job. One of the distinct advantages of hiring for remote positions is that you can simply hire the best candidate for the job, rather than by a willingness to relocate for the job itself. Here are three pieces of key advice for hiring the best team members.

Conduct in-person interviews where possible.

In-person interviews, even if the employee will be working remotely, are almost always better. Face-to-face interviews allow the hiring manager the ability to assess the interviewee’s body language and get a good idea if they are a good fit for the team or not. If the potential new hire is nearby, meet them at the office for an interview or suggest a nearby coffee shop. 

If not, conduct a video interview using Skype or some other video streaming service. This is the next best thing for hiring a remote employee since you will be probably hosting online meetings, so it is nice to get the employee first-hand experience of the software and being in front of a camera.

Use online assessment tools to test competencies.

When hiring a new virtual team member, it makes sense to use some online skills assessment tools. Elance and Odesk, for example, offer tools and quizzes which evaluate worker’s abilities to make sure they’re qualified for the job. If you have shortlisted a few candidates, you can make your own final task, that would best represent the work that your company would be doing to see which candidate is the best suited for the job.

It is always a good idea to check the potential new hire’s references. LinkedIn testimonials, previous employers, and personal recommendations make it far easier to see which candidates have the skills that best suit the position. Speak directly with the references your candidate provides where possible, as it will help you quickly assess whether they are the right fit.

Evaluate your potential hire’s self-motivation.

Virtual employees need a lot more self-motivation than in-person workers. There aren’t any co-workers or bosses present to help keep them on task. Working independently is an essential skill for a virtual team member. Here are a few ways to evaluate a potential employee’s self-motivation: 

  • Employees are much more motivated to stay on track if they’re sincerely passionate about their work and employer. Get a sense of their level of interest in the company by asking the right interview questions. Their eagerness should also show during the interview process.

  • Have your potential hires take an online test that specifically measures self-motivation. Psychology Today has a great 102 question test on its website, or you can ask them to take the MMPI (Minnesota Multiphase Personality Inventory).

  • Think about how proactive the potential candidate was throughout the hiring process. Did you have to reach out constantly or did they show initiative on their own?

  • Asking open-ended questions to see how they’d handle specific issues can also help determine if the potential new hire is the right fit for the job. If they show initiative and do not wait for instruction from their supervisors, this can indicate a good independent work ethic.

Remember, there’s always room for improvement in your hiring process, so make sure to review your current approach to ensure that it’s effective in helping you find outstanding talent that will strengthen your remote team.


Communication Is The Foundation Of A Great Remote Team

Whether you are working on-site, in the field, or remotely, communication is one of the foundational skills needed to run well. However, communication is also one of the biggest challenges facing remote teams. Due to the global nature of most remote teams and not seeing each other face-to-face maybe ever, you have to rely on technology to remain in contact and stay up-to-date on projects. Sometimes, communication channels can break down. Some examples of other barriers to communication are:

Different time zones

If you have a global team, chances are there might be different time zones to consider when planning video conferences with your team. The more time zones you add to this equation the harder it will be. It is worth taking this into consideration when hiring new remote workers and planning how to get around this for any video conferences.

Language barriers

Global teams mean different languages and that can cause communication barriers if they don’t speak your main language fluently. While this doesn’t affect some positions, it can lead to miscommunication issues within your team. It’s important to be realistic about where you can hire from in the world to avoid this issue.

However, despite these barriers to communication, there are plenty of things you can do to avoid these issues altogether.

 Establish effective communication processes.

This is the best practice to ensure that everyone is on the same page. Having a defined set of processes of how you will communicate with each other makes the system more transparent. This makes it super easy to follow and ensures your remote team is using the same communication tools and following the same procedures. An example of this is a lot of companies have a ‘camera always on’ policy. 

Choose the right communication tools for your remote team.

Understand that not all videoconferencing software, to-do list software, note-taking software is alike. Different teams will need different software to have the best workflow outcome. Communication tools are no different. Maybe your team really needs to have a video conference, so Zoom or Slack might be a good fit. Maybe you can get by with fewer video chats but a really good email client. Knowing which tools are the best and selecting them with care will make your communication smoother in the long run. 

Creating A Virtual Culture

Remote teams pose several interesting challenges to building a work culture. There are some things a good remote manager can do to help foster a great work culture. 

Share the company vision.

Communicate your vision and expectations from the onset. Use collaborative tools that your employees can access and reference your vision at any time to help foster a sense of unity. The details of your company’s vision in order to be effective should include the following information:

  • A clear mission statement highlighting your company’s primary goals.

  • Standing operating procedures for addressing common challenges

  • Employee guidelines that ALL employees should follow.

Avoid any ambiguity about your company’s mission statement and employee guidelines. Address any and all questions about these immediately. Creating this unity helps the foster connection.

Help remote employees connect virtually and in person.

Authentic connection within your team is essential for creating a healthy, happy, and productive remote team. One way to do this is to create little team rituals which help people get to know each other. Another way can be to host little virtual meet-ups that have nothing to do with any projects or work. 

If a majority of your virtual team lives nearby, then having some in-person meet-ups is a must. Allocating some of your budget and resources to help team members meet for dinner, drinks, or even doing volunteer in the community can help foster that team unity within the virtual work set up as well. Even if you are a bit more spread out, chances are there are a few workers who live close to each other, allowing them to meet can only be a good thing. 

A happy team is a productive team, which leads to the final step of building a remote team, using the right tools to measure productivity.

Using The Right Metrics

When employees are on-site it’s easier to gain a sense of how much time is being spent working and where you can improve productivity. This is not the case when you are working remotely. It’s important to know how to track your team’s productivity and what metrics to measure. 

Time tracking

This is a good way to hold remote workers accountable for meeting expectations. Not only that, using time tracking can actually help you determine the price of your products that you are producing, which employee is on track and who needs more structure, and even help identify project workflow inefficiencies. 

There are many apps that make time tracking super easy for your remote workers to do which are free. Some of these apps can even be integrated with other tools, including you’re the project management software that you are currently using. 

Productivity tools

As previously mentioned, it’s really difficult to tell an individual worker’s contribution remotely. Productivity tools can help with this issue. There are a number of great tools that you can use to track productivity among your staff, like TimeDoctor and Tickspot.

It’s not all about productivity and time, it’s also about making sure your remote workers are meeting project and organizational goals as well. There are plenty of project management tools that help with this, like BaseCamp and Asana which will allow you to incorporate your time tracking tool of choice. 

If you do choose to use these methods, be sure to periodically review the logs so you can quickly identify any longstanding productivity issues. 

Final Thoughts

Technology has changed the ways in which we live and work. Remote working is the future and knowing how to build and manage a successful virtual team is a vital part of any company.

About Author: Emily Henry is a content writer for Essay Writing Service. Emily writes on a wide range of topics, including social media posts for restaurants.