Being a remote company is one thing. Being a successful remote company is another! Successful remote companies not only follow best practices, but they also aren’t afraid to develop some of their own.
To get you started on your way to being a successful distributed company, we’ve put together eight of the best practices for remote companies and some of the ways you can tweak them to suit your needs. Check them out!
8 Best Practices for Remote Companies
1. Analyze Operations
Pandemic aside, becoming a remote company doesn’t happen overnight. More importantly, becoming a successful remote company doesn’t happen overnight, either.
Whether you’re starting a new remote company or you’ve decided to stay remote after the pandemic, successful remote companies analyze their operations to figure out what’s working and what isn’t, then adjust accordingly.
For example, you may discover that using instant messaging as your main form of communication doesn’t work, and email or in-person chats are more effective. Talk to your staff, see what works, then embrace it, making it a part of your remote work culture while getting rid of the processes and tools that bog things down.
2. Make It Formal
It’s difficult to go half in when it comes to business; you rarely see the return you were hoping for. The same goes for remote policies. Simply saying you are a remote company won’t do the trick; you have to create programs and policies that help to guide the flexible work environment.
While all companies need a policy manual, remote companies need remote-specific policy manuals. In general, remote work policies come down to three things:
- Making sure tasks are completed
- Setting expectations about availability during set work hours
- Defining how often communication happens (and with what tools)
You’ll also need to spell out things like security measures (can staff have client meetings in the local coffee shop?), and define what the company will pay for (like internet or setting up a home office). For more tips, read up on a sample remote work policy.
3. Cultivate Openness and Transparency
In-person companies are often most successful when they are open and transparent, and remote companies should follow suit. But being a remote company means approaching openness and transparency differently.
Regular meetings can help foster an open and transparent culture. But meeting all day, every day may burn out staff and hamper productivity. Regular team meetings that happen once a week or a few times a month give everyone a chance to discuss what they’re working on and the challenges they face.
Also, encourage managers to have regular one-on-ones with individual team members. Checking in once a week or a few times a month will help supervisors build open, trusting relationships with their staff.
4. Harness the Power of Technology
For a remote workplace, technology is more than email or even shared documents. Online meeting platforms, project management tools, and instant messaging are just some of the technologies companies use to stay connected.
Choosing the right resources is vital. You wouldn’t try to weld with rope, so don’t invest in the resources and tools that don’t work for your team. Experiment with different technologies to see what does and does not work. Then create workflows that incorporate those tools. And if your company outgrows a tool, let it go!
5. Incorporate Face Time
Though you may never meet your team in real life, that doesn’t mean you can’t have some face time. Consider using video chat during meetings to help put faces with voices. While it’s not always necessary to see people face-to-face in a remote workplace, for many, visual cues are a great way to learn how to interact with others on the team.
6. Set and Evaluate Goals and Expectations
In a virtual workplace, sometimes out of sight means out of mind. Over time, that could mean managers aren’t providing helpful feedback, making it harder for staff to clearly understand what is expected of them.
In addition to regular check-ins, make sure supervisors periodically review goals and expectations to ensure everyone is on the same page, and nothing is lost in translation. Also, give staff a chance to provide feedback up the organizational chain to help you stay aware of and get ahead of any small problems that could snowball into larger ones.
7. Monitor Metrics
Trust is a crucial component of remote work success. But that doesn’t mean you should skip tracking metrics. Keeping track of goals and output can help ensure everything is running smoothly.
Does this mean monitoring every mouse click of every employee? No. It means companies should look at the big picture and monitor individual activities, team activities, and the entire organization. Simply focusing on the small details (one team member) means you could miss out on the big picture (the whole company).
8. Create Team-Building Opportunities
Most companies have some team-building to help employees get to know each other on a personal level. And a remote company should be no different!
Set up occasional, informal chats for different employees to get to know each other, offer virtual coffee breaks, or develop other interest programs that will help teams connect personally and professionally. Over the long run, this encourages staff to build strong relationships with people outside of their everyday workflow, leading to better cross-functional relationships and a more successful company.
Create Your Best Practices
The best practices for remote companies revolve around much of the same ideas as brick-and-mortar companies: success comes from using the right tools, hiring the right people, and implementing the right policies.
But following a standard set of best practices isn’t enough. Think of them as a jumping-off point. True success for your remote company will come from defining the best practices for your business and your people.
For more advice on running a remote company, check out our Q and As.
By Jessica Howington | December 20, 2021 | Categories: Build a Remote Team