Especially for those who do the bulk of their work independently and on a computer, going into a far-away office — taking on a draining commute, strict office hours, distracting desk neighbors, and no-pajamas policies — can feel like a burden. Many companies nowadays are offering remote work days as a option for employees, and 43 percent of American employees say they spend at least some time working remotely, whether that’s from home, a co-working space, or a coffee shop.
And the cost savings is real: on average, office space costs around $1.74 per sq ft per month. Take that and multiply by how many employees you have, plus space for conference rooms and reception, and we’re talking serious overhead.
So, why isn’t everyone jumping on-board? It may be due to any number of common concerns about remote work, which range from employees slacking off to ineffective communication and lack of productivity.
Kimberly Barnes, the founder content marketing agency ContentPark, knows working fully outside the office is not just an option, but a completely strategic way to run a business — her team is fully remote, in fact. From hiring the right people to fostering team spirit to tracking results, we talked with Kimberly to learn the best ways to build and manage a fully remote team.
Craft your job description carefully
We’ve proactively geared our hiring process to find experienced remote workers who can self-manage and meet deadlines. Ensuring we attract the right candidates begins with a well-written job description. We want potential candidates to get a feel for both the position and company to which they are applying.
Throughout the hiring process, we pay special attention to communication skills — especially written — as we develop a rapport with potential team members. Written communication skills are a must-have as the majority of the way we interface will be through writing.
Use tools to get organized
A remote team isn’t much different than an on-site one — it’s comprised of living, breathing, feeling humans who are eager to do their jobs well. As a manager, I do my best to treat them as such, and that means I must get creative in terms of the tools I use to organize and communicate.
When it comes to how we organize, we use a lot of SaaS products, many of which are integrated, in order to streamline processes and give team members what they need to accomplish their daily tasks from anywhere.
Be an over-communicator
To compensate for the fact that I don’t bump into my remote team at the watercooler, I do my best to “stop by their desks” in the same way you would in a physical office space by [doing things like] making time for small talk, doing a daily check in with each member of the team, remembering birthdays, asking about vacations or important life events, celebrating a task well done, and picking up the phone every now and then. And since so much of communication is nonverbal, I use (and encourage my team to use) bitmojis and gifs liberally to ensure nothing is lost in translation.
In addition, I work to proactively provide our team with opportunities to build rapport with one another by creating a safe space for the team to talk virtually and setting a comfortable, casual tone for everyone. Ultimately, transparency, authenticity and vulnerability build community. It’s a gutsy combination, and it works.
Build team spirit — and don’t fear competition
Team building is imperative. As humans, we want to feel connected, valued, a part of something. Foundationally, we work on all projects as a team. We rely on each other to contribute, critique and cheer. And we recognize that each of us plays an important part in getting projects across the finish line.
Aside from our day-to-day work, we don’t shy away from a little friendly competition. Apps like MapMyRun make clocking miles on the track easy, in addition to revealing the most competitive of our team members. Pulling together to donate books, supplies or money to a cause (even from afar) also contributes to our cohesion as a remote team.
And we hold an annual in-person team retreat. While there are considerable hurdles to getting a remote team together, the meaningful relationship building that occurs when you and your remote team share a meal, movie or a game of TopGolf together goes far beyond a weekend.
Make a flexible schedule a strength
Slack is our office — we rarely use email to communicate with each other. The “always on” aspect of Slack supports the “round the clock” option that so many remote teams enjoy. Night owls can report in at midnight, while early risers can do the same at their schedules’ convenience.
No matter the time of check in, communication and information are at the ready, so no team member misses a trick. And features like the sleep notification lets the team know when another team member needs the zzzzs.
Track results of everything
We track everything, every project, every deadline and certainly each step of progress toward delivering great service and products.With respect to our team members, we track development.
We’ve gamified making deadlines through our customized app so writers can see their progress in real time. Writers are also able to access client satisfaction and feedback to guide future work. And because we care about the humans behind the laptops on our team, we’ve added a career and life coach to help guide professional and personal development.
When it comes to ContentPark’s values, we operate on the “know better, do better” model.
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