In an ever-growing, digitally dependent world, traditional office settings are starting to become obsolete. The power of the internet has created unparalleled opportunities for a variety of business models, and has given business owners more power to create the perfect team without the overhead of an office space. With the help of social media and digital management systems, it’s now easier than ever to grow a team that supports your growing business and fits within your budget.
With all this opportunity, it should be no surprise that today’s employment pool is filled with hard-working individuals who prefer working from home, and actually flourish in that environment. For employers, growing a remote team of employees or freelancers is a great way to add talent that you otherwise couldn’t have found or afforded. It also allows for you to grow within your limits, and bring in the necessary expertise to meet all your business’s goals.
Thinking about giving this new school business method a try? We’ve got the tools you need for a growing and successful remote team.
Key tools for success
Communication is key in any successful relationship, both working and personal. Make sure you set the tone of communication from the beginning so that there’s clear expectations on availability, billing and hours. Take the time to thoroughly brief your freelancer on projects, this includes deadlines and any other specific instructions pertaining to the task. Remember, since they’re not in the office for regular updates, they’ll only have the project details as complete as the ones you’ve provide.
As time goes on, remember to update your freelancer regularly, provide feedback as needed and always leave the door open for questions, should they have any. Rather than email back and for, consider using an online communication tool, like Skype or Hipchat for quick questions, and always make time for a phone call when more details or clarification is needed.
Pro Tip: Before you begin the hiring process, consider creating an onboarding checklist for freelancers. That way you have all the information you need to outline, discuss and explain before the work begins. This will help you stay organized and ensure that no information slips through the cracks.
Having all your files easily accessible to your entire team at all times is a must. Since freelancers have the ability to make their own schedule, they aren’t confined to traditional work hours and may need access when you’re not around. Make sure files are readily available via a cloud server like Dropbox that’s easy to use, update and organize.
You’ll also want to create a virtual to-do list for collaboration purposes. To help your team stay organized with tasks and track progress of assignments, use project management software like Asana or Teamwork so your remote worker is still part of the team. This is a great way to keep everyone on the same page to create a team that works well together.
Pro Tip: If you are concerned about the way your freelancer may be using their time when on an hourly contract, consider using a time management software like Time Doctor. This application allows for time tracking by project and will take screenshots while work is being completed. Should you choose to use Asana as your project management software, you’ll be able to seamlessly integrate this app into your workflow.
Create a Team Player Environment
Even in a virtual scenario, it’s important to create a team player environment. Freelancers and remote workers are often isolated from the team, and other things going on within the company. They usually only know about the project they are working on, which can lead to a lone wolf mindset that might not gel with your company’s environment.
Consider bringing your freelancer in for production and team meetings, when relevant to help encourage input and remind them that they’re part of the bigger picture and not just the projects assigned. Social media is another way to engage with your team. Make sure you connect on Facebook or LinkedIn and engage with your team online.
Pro Tip: Create a Facebook group for your team where everyone can share personal tidbits and big announcements can be made. This will help create a mini social media timeline that keeps everyone updated and engaged with one another.
Plan an In-Person Meeting
Even though you won’t be working together in person on a regular basis, nothing beats a face-to-face meeting (no matter how digital things get). Set aside time for in person meetings when possible depending on both the role and the location of your freelancers. This will help you get to know your remote team members better, and if possible it’s a great way to bring your team together for an all-around in-person meet-up. Talk about team building!
Pro Tip: You should plan to see remote employees who work more than 20+ hours a week quarterly at least. If you’re big on keeping your team remote yet local, make sure you mention location requirements in your job posts so that these meetings are a little bit easier to accomplish.
Overall, transparency is key in a remote team and freelance environment. Make sure you’re hiring freelancers you can trust to be available when you need them, deliver on deadlines and work well with your existing team. All in all, creating clear expectations through strategic communication and organization will make for a successful remote team building experience.
Do you have any tips for freelancers or experience with remote teams? Tell us your story in the comments below!