September 13, 2017
Businesses have more freedom to source the very best workers today, rather than simply hiring candidates from their local talent pool. The proliferation of online project-management tools, file-sharing software, and various communication platforms make remote working far easier than ever.
Last year, 43 percent of employed Americans worked remotely for varying periods of their time in 2016. This figure is likely to grow, as more businesses realize the benefits a remote workforce brings (reduced overheads, more diverse talent). Managing a freelance team might appear daunting at first, but it’s actually far easier than you may imagine.
Concentrate on Workers’ Productivity
When you have an in-house team, it’s easy to gauge an employee’s commitment by their punctuality, enthusiasm for projects, attitude, and their behavior. The most important thing, of course, is their productivity – and this should be your core focus when managing remote workers.
Concentrate on the work your team delivers rather than how much (or how little) time they seem to invest into it, or how skilled they are in communications. Freelancers paid at a ‘per-task’ rate are likely to complete work faster, and to a higher standard, than desk-bound employees who get paid regardless.
Embracing Collaboration Technology
Keeping in touch with your remote workers is key, but ensuring the team is in-sync can be a challenge. Collaborating on tasks together helps to secure consistency and build a stronger bond between workers.
With project-management tools, you can assign tasks to individuals or groups, while platforms like Google Drive make collaborating on projects in real-time simple. Teams of all sizes can access the same files, make changes, and share ideas from across the globe.
Many of these tools are mobile-friendly too and encourage collaboration at any time, any place.
Checking-in with your remote workforce is critical, and it’s easy with online communication tools. Try to host regular voice or video meetings with the full team to discuss upcoming projects, brainstorm ideas, share feedback, and generally build a stronger bond.
It’s important to keep these meetings tight to avoid wasting time on digressions, and allow anyone who wants to speak have the chance to do so. You may want to do this once or twice a week, to keep everyone on the same page.
Utilize Video Conferencing Tools
Using video to speak on a face-to-face basis is more engaging than emails or phone calls, and visual aids can be utilized when discussing concepts. Businesses might use platforms like Skype or Google Hangouts, but network connectivity can be problematic when calling workers in other countries.
Tony Zhao, CEO of video chat company Agora.io, emphasizes the importance of clear connections:
“Video chat can help businesses foster strong relationships with remote workers, share ideas, and manage workflows, but clear connections are essential. Weak signals and brownouts will only lead to frustration, wasted time, and ineffective management.”
Build Strong Rapport and Trust
With an in-house team, it’s often simple to see when employees are struggling with a particular task or need support. This is obviously far more difficult with a remote team, which makes building a rapport and trust from the beginning vital.
Make sure your remote workers know they can tell you if they’re unable to meet deadlines, are unsure how to complete a task, or have any other issue. When you trust them, and they trust you, working together is much easier and more rewarding.
Always try to be available for your team when they need you.
Balance Schedules and Time Zones Fairly
Working with people from all over the country, even around the world, means you’ll be on a different time zone to your team. This may be just a couple of hours or half a day, but compromise is a must, either way .
Everyone involved needs to be considerate of these differing time zones when scheduling meetings and calls. You may need to get out of bed a little earlier, or stay up a little later, but if your workers commit to this, you’ll build a stronger team.
The same is true of schedules: don’t set a deadline for a task when certain workers are likely to be asleep or on their well-earned downtime.
Create an Inclusive Company Culture
Nurturing a company culture is fairly straightforward when a business’s entire workforce operates under the same roof.
With a remote team of freelancers it’s far more complicated. You want your workers to feel united, to be aware of the goals they’re working towards, and feel like an important part of your company.
You can still do this, but it takes a little more effort. Keep your teleworkers aware of changes in your business (minor and major), and allow them to have input into their department’s working processes. Ensure they feel valued, and they’ll show more loyalty to yourself and the brand.
Read more on how to manage a remote workforce at TechCo
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