Remote work is quickly becoming the norm in many industries, and the latest technological advancements are making remote work easier than ever. However, along with the benefits of remote work are a number of problems for companies:
- How to find the best talent
- How to organize team communication
- How to facilitate collaboration
- How to stay connected as a team
In this article, we’ll explore five problems that remote teams face and the tools and solutions that can be used to solve them. Let’s dive in.
Problem 1: Finding talent
One of the most important advantages of remote work is the ability to attract global talent: A company can be located on Continent A and managed on Continent B, all the while planning its expansion into Continent C. This advantage, however, can also be a problem: The number of possible candidates is overwhelming. How can you make sure to hire the best fit?
Solution 1: Use hiring platforms specific to your industry. For instance, when looking to hire a web developer, use sites like Toptal, Talent, or Soshace. These companies make the hiring process easier by vetting the candidates in terms of both hard and soft skills, only inviting the best of the best to join the pool. Essentially, they guarantee that the work you pay for will be of high quality. Naturally, these guarantees come at a higher price than the other solution we’ll discuss.
Solution 2: Use freelance marketplace platforms like Upwork or Freelancer. These platforms offer a large pool of candidates that, on the surface, seems like a great thing. The trick, however, is finding the right candidate. The fees and prices on these platforms are significantly lower than the platforms mentioned in Solution 1. In the end, it all boils down to this question: Are you confident in your ability to assess a candidate’s skill set? If yes, go for this solution; if not, the first solution is your answer.
Problem 2: Communicating effectively
Alright, so we’ve hired the right professionals, and they’re part of the team. Now there’s another question: How do you ensure that they communicate effectively?
Solution: Slack, the self-described “collaboration software that moves work forward,” is a powerful communication tool. Some professionals like to use it to discuss new ideas with each other; others use it to interact with work documents, and some simply want to chat. Slack’s channels satisfy everyone.
Essentially, each channel has a specific purpose: project discussions, brainstorming, water cooler chat, company updates, and so on. Additionally, each team can set up their own channel to discuss their progress. Thanks to a convenient message management system and integration with almost every software service, Slack is the go-to tool to ensure that your team communicates well.
Problem 3: Collaborating the right way
When working on several documents, spreadsheets, services, and reports, you have to make sure that collaboration is seamless and efficient.
Solution: Google G Suite is a great way to organize work files. It’s an all-in-one solution that includes cloud storage and a plethora of productivity apps like Docs, Sheets, Calendar, Slides, and more. With the ability to set groups and manage rights, G Suite allows team members to collaborate without worrying about accidentally deleting something important. You can even sync your forms to Google Drive.
You could also add Agile-related tools to make team collaboration even easier. The main Agile principles — flexibility and fast response time — fit nicely into a remote workflow.
A Kanban board, which visualizes the progress of various work tasks, divides tasks into stages like “Backlog,” “To do,” “In progress,” and “Done.” With Kanban boards, team members can see at a glance what their colleagues are currently doing or planning to do — saving time.
Problem 4: Keeping remote employees engaged
Remote workers often feel disconnected. Lacking face-to-face communication with their colleagues, they can feel excluded, undervalued, and underappreciated. How can we help team members feel more connected?
Solution: Although salary is an important factor, it doesn’t govern someone’s actual interest in the job. Think about the professionals you know. Does money keep them engaged and help them overcome their struggles and challenges, or is there something more to it?
Everyone wants to feel valued and appreciated. To keep remote team members engaged, you need to prove that they’re an equal part of the team:
- Organize fun remote activities. For every offline get-together, make sure there’s an equivalent event that can be held online. Some examples are quarterly book clubs, streaming movie nights, and team-building games like guessing personal facts about each other.
- Show your appreciation with small gifts. They don’t have to be expensive; instead, make sure they’re useful and thoughtful.
- Ensure equality between remote workers and their onsite peers. For example, when in-office employees join a meeting from the same room and device, this makes their remote colleagues feel excluded.
- Ask remote employees how they’re doing with feedback forms. The mere act of asking for feedback can make people feel valued, but you definitely need to follow up on employee feedback.
Although remote work offers many benefits, it’s hardly a panacea. Simply switching to a remote workflow isn’t enough — managers also need to think (and rethink) their work processes through to ensure the best results.