Building a remote team can be one of the most incredible things you do for your company if you do it right – and doing it right can be tough. In fact, an astounding number of companies try to build great remote teams, hoping to have employed a highly efficient workforce, only to be disappointed.
Over the last few years, companies have found themselves lured by the appeal of hiring remote teams. The growth of online platforms like LinkedIn has granted companies the ability to access a vast pool of talents across a number of industries in an unprecedented number of fields. What’s more, this pool of talents has no geographical boundaries!
Remote teams can also be cost-effective, if companies can hire great talent that does not need to be present in the office at all times, they can also do away with additional costs of additional equipment, rent and other office perks.
These are just a few benefits of having remote teams, amongst so many others! Naturally, companies have become increasingly open to the idea of hiring a partially or even completely remote workforce.
If there are so many benefits of hiring remote workers, why are so many companies unsuccessful in building and managing remote teams that are actually productive? Or better still, why do so few companies succeed in building successful organizations using remote teams?
Remote Workers Are Secondary
Here’s one of the top reasons that companies are failing at ensuring optimized productivity and enhanced results when they invest in remote teams. First, remote workers are considered secondary.
This is due to a far bigger problem of not having established a culture that accepts and fosters the concept of remote work. It is important to recognize that the same strategies for productivity in an office culture will not work for a remote workforce. Consider this, many of the perks that you offer at an office like a safe bike room, treats, coffee, beer, or nap pods can not be used to create a cultural environment for remote workers. They already have the best nap pod, their bed, and a sleep mask. Covering the cost of these things is not the same, as it is not set up in an environment that encourages your vision for company culture.
“remote workers are considered secondary”
The only way to meet their needs and promote team member success is to focus on the needs that you can influence like team member respect, mobility, feedback, praise, and teamwork. To create this environment of equality, your entire organization needs to be on-board with the idea that there will be people who have the luxury of working from their homes and there will be team members that are staying put in an office space for 8 hours at a time. It is important for the employees who work from your office every day to understand the value of having remote workers.
Often, companies are unsuccessful in showing their existing, physical team of employees the value of having remote workers, leading to the digital workforce being treated as a ‘secondary’ workforce. This makes remote workers feel more isolated than ever, so their satisfaction levels are significantly lowered, leading to decreased productivity, and eventually, causing them to quit and look for more suitable opportunities.
This also gives rise to the belief amongst business owners and their HR departments that an investment in a remote team is not working out for them, without being able to put a finger on what exactly went wrong.
Managers Don’t Hire The Right Personality For Remote Work
Not everyone is cut out for working from home. Some people work much better in an environment with other employees, while some are able to churn out the greatest results working by themselves.
A lot of managers find it difficult to hire the right people for remote positions and often end up hiring people who would be an undeniable fit in the physical workspace, because of their amiability and an expressed ability to adjust to and work well within teams – except, a remote worker does not find themselves interacting in person within a team on a day-to-day basis.
Managers need to find people who are flexible, communicative, and proactive. When hiring remote employees, it is helpful to focus on seeking out an understanding of how potential candidates work on projects, manage them, and handle the different tasks associated with projects. Gauging their ability to use different communication technologies and project management tools and how capable they are of learning new concepts and technologies.
Leadership Sets The Wrong Example
As with any workforce, great leadership is essential for successful teams. Unfortunately without realizing, sometimes leadership ends up setting certain expectations that they have for their remote employees, but fail to commit to the same expectations. Leaders are always on the look-out for employees who are communicative and proactive, but every once in awhile, it just so happens that remote workers often complain about their managers not being available or approachable.
Managers Do Not Put Extra Effort Into Managing Remote Teams
In order to manage a remote team, you need to be conscious of the challenges and be more proactive. What this means is that managers need to go beyond just project- or work-related conversations.
As an employer, it is crucial for the success of your team for you to go the extra mile and make an effort to establish a more human connection with your employees. In addition to putting in more effort, managers need to work on bridging the gap between their physical workforce and the digital one.
The implications of these additional efforts are clear; managers treat their employees as valuable team members, despite not being able to see them very often, which leads to their employees understanding the goals that they are working towards, together. Managers should focus on one-on-one conversations with each remote employee, as much as they should on introducing remote employees to the workforce in the office and to other remote workers.
Not enough companies are adept at putting in the extra effort and that’s alright. It does take time. The key to doing it better is making special provisions for employees you can’t see. It might seem cheesy but additional video conferencing, texting in friendly tones and perhaps even using emojis, are some little ways to better communicate with remote employees.
Managers Do Not Consider Challenges Unique To Remote Teams
Some challenges that remote workers face seem almost ludicrous to employees who work from 9 to 5 in an office. Here’s one. A strikingly high number of work-from-home professionals say that they don’t know where to draw the line so they end up working too much. At Zapier, a completely remote company, employees have often confessed to overworking themselves because they find it difficult to find a balance between their personal lives and their work-life, which would make sense because they do everything under the same roof.
If employees are not building connections with their managers and their colleagues they are at greater risk of remote work isolation. Remote work isolation is an individual’s response to a lack of communication and understanding of where and how they fit into the organization. If a team member can’t see how they impact the company and have a vision for the future at that company they will lose motivation, lower productivity, and likely start looking for work elsewhere.
There is no silver bullet for remote work. Just like an office environment, there are new and different challenges when it comes to employee productivity, happiness, retention. Fortunately, there are more and more software solutions focused on the challenges of remote work. Individuals who prosper in a remote work environment are the same individuals who adopt new software solutions and processes easily. Take advantage of this flexibility in order to take potential challenges head-on with new ideas.
ChatFox is a Slack chatbot that builds remote team culture. Remote teams that only engage through projects, tasks, and deadlines do not foster a culture around shared values and goals. Build a strong remote team culture, improve remote team productivity, and eliminate team member isolation. Use ChatFox Icebreakers to build rapport with team members, use ChatFox Coffee Chats to have meaningful conversations with people across your organization, or use ChatFox Shout Outs to recommend a colleague and endorse their skills. Unlike other remote team solutions, ChatFox looks at remote team culture from a strategic perspective and has created engaging chats for your team that provide management with insights into remote team engagement, skills, contributions, and mobility.remote team mamagementremote work challengesremote work culture