OK, so you have decided to work remotely. But, you don’t know how to get started. What are the prime things you need to take care of while transitioning to remote work? How to set up a remote communication system? What about team bonding? And other questions that are confusing you and making it difficult to transition.
I’m running a remote company for the last three years. Through trial and error, I now know the major must-do’s that will help you become a successful remote company. Here are five tips to get you started.
1. Ensure inclusive remote work policies
Many of your employees will be working remotely for the first time. While some of them may enjoy the additional freedom and work-life balance, it can be difficult for working parents to handle their children and job simultaneously.
There might also be some issues for people with a small home and no separate office. So, when you’re communicating remote work policies, ensure you consider them.
To avoid any errors, before drafting the policy, assemble an internal team that will consider various real-life situations (that can disrupt WFH) and entertain employees’ feedback to draft a policy that works for everyone.
Your remote culture policy should let employees know:
a) What freedom and responsibilities do they have.
b) The guiding values.
c) How they should conduct themselves.
2. Build an effective communication system
Communication is the backbone of a remote team. Nail it, and you’ll strengthen team collaboration, improve your organization’s work productivity, and build a culture of doers. But, fail to do so, and you’ll have chaos all around—with zero productivity and people blaming each other.
You don’t want this, do you?
Here’s how to avoid this and build an effective remote communication system:
a) Create a communication guide—that teaches employees how to communicate, ask for feedback, convey decisions, and more—and share it with your team.
b) Fix your default communication stack—for communication (Slack/email), collaboration (Notion), and virtual meeting (Zoom/Vowel)—and ask your employees to use only those tools.
c) Adopt writing as your default communication medium.
d) Make it clear when to host online and when not to.
Read this guide to understand how to communicate effectively in a remote team.
3. Measure performance solely on results
Don’t fall into the trap of tracking your employees’ working hours. It will build distrust among you and your team. Also, avoid judging employees’ output based on the number of hours worked.
Instead, let people choose their working hours, trust them to complete the tasks, and track your employees based on goals/results achieved. Ask for daily/weekly updates (I prefer weekly updates).
Tell your workers to mail you the answers to these two questions:
a) What did you do today/this week?
b) What will you do tomorrow/next week?
How this helps:
a) The employee's self-introspects.
b) You’re updated on their progress.
c) It encourages deep work. How? Employees aren’t distracted by the constant email notifications. They can decide their productive slot and focus their attention on work.
4. Be intentional about socializing and team bonding
The major drawback of remote work is the lack of team connection. Unlike an in-office environment, remote work doesn’t offer many chances for small talks, socializing, and instances of getting to know each other. And these are important to build team trust, care, and collaboration.
So, what’s the alternative? You should design a system that encourages team building.
Here’s how to get started:
a) Take inspiration from Convert Kit and record a podcast with every new hire. Ask them about their personality, work style, likes/dislikes, interests, and more. Store this podcast on a shared document—so anyone can listen to it and get a head start on building relationships.
b) Pair 2-3 co-workers on a random call for a get-to-know-each-other session.
c) Have different channels on Slack where team members can share jokes, memes, and vacation pics.
d) Host annual retreats. Your team can travel or go out for dinner to socialize.
5. Prioritize mental health
Per, The Atlantic, remote workers face burnout and loneliness. This may affect their mental health—ultimately decreasing their work productivity. So, ask people to take care of their mental health.
A few things you can do:
a) Ask employees to rest when they burn out to recharge themselves.
b) Encourage people to establish work-life boundaries. For example, your employees shouldn’t consistently work beyond their working hours. I
c) Provide free mental health counseling sessions.
Done right, remote work is best for both company and the employees
Remote work has countless benefits. Companies can save on office expenses, access global talent, and increase team productivity. On the other hand, employees enjoy zero commute stress, work-life balance, and flexibility to work whenever they want. But, for all this to happen, it’s crucial to follow the above tips.
So, get started on your remote journey with these tips.