Out of office: how to manage a remote team
Remote workers, be they freelance or employees, are a fact of life in today's connected world. (Image via Continuant)
The idea that work can only take place between 9-5 in an office seems quaint and old fashioned in today’s world.
With the advent of technology allowing people the freedom to connect anywhere at any time, it was inevitable that working patterns would change.
In much of the rest of the world, flexible or remote working has risen exponentially as companies and employees see the benefits of reshaping how and when work takes place.
In the Middle East however, the idea still persists that face to face is better and there’s an underlying mistrust of so called ‘flexible working’; employers often prefer to actually ‘see’ the work taking place in the office.
There are several drawbacks with this approach, not least the fact that the world has moved on and the most talented people may not be satisfied with this method of work. In order to stay ahead of the curve and attract the best talent, modern employers must alter their thinking - following these tips is a good start.
Be clear about your requirements
This is perhaps the most important point when thinking about managing any team but especially one that’s off-site. A good brief means half the job is already done and will avoid a lot of frustration later in the project. Sometimes it feels easier to discuss job requirements face to face, but the very act of writing outcomes down will lead to greater clarity which will in turn lead to better results from your team.
Identify the best talent
The biggest advantage of hiring remote talent, whether full time or freelance, is the range of talented specialists you can tap into from the Middle East and the world. Freed from the need to have your team in one specific location, you can hire the best people for the job and get access to expertise that may not be available in your market.
Be clear on timelines and deadlines
Be clear upfront about the processes that you expect remote workers to follow, and agree on project timelines and deadlines at the start. This will save any confusion later in the project and will ensure timely delivery of work. Ensure you schedule regular updates so that you avoid a last minute panic, and give your freelancers timely and clear feedback.
Use communication and project management tools
There are numerous tools that can help when managing a project delivered by remote workers. Skype is one of the obvious ones if you want to have a face to face meeting but are in different locations. Slack is an excellent messaging tool to help disparate teams communicate quickly and efficiently with each other. Trello allows you to create an online project board accessible by all team members, allowing workers to see at a glance any updates, messages from other members and to track the progress of tasks. Most of the leading freelancer marketplaces offer a workspace that allows you to collate all your information in once place and keep in regular contact with your team.
Be available for feedback and troubleshooting
If you brief a remote worker on a project and then absent yourself for a few days with no communication you’re likely to run into issues. Make yourself available for feedback and troubleshooting in order to ensure the smooth, timely delivery of the project.
Trust your team
You’ve hired these people because they are experts in their field. They’ve been vetted and interviewed, you’ve seen their previous work and you’ve hired them based on it. Their reputation is on the line so it’s not in their interest to produce substandard work at a slow pace. Trust your instincts in hiring them and their passion for their chosen field and let them do their job.
Remote workers can prove to be your company’s biggest asset. Not only will the right freelancer deliver high quality work in a timely fashion but they don’t require the fixed overhead spend that in office employees do. Although it may be daunting at first, putting the right processes to on-board and work with freelancers can add great value to your company and your top line.