You don't need to be at the scale of Google or Uber to provide your team the option of working remotely. However, doing so does require some initial planning. It may seem that remote teams are a no brainer to give your startup the competitive edge in obtaining top talent, but make no mistake, remote teams require structure, resources, and the right culture to give them the best chance of success. Luckily, we've combed through the playbook of some of the most successful remote-based startups to put you on the right path.
1.) Use The Right Tools
When working with remote teams, one of the important things to consider is what ways you will need to communicate. Consider the following tools to get your remote team started:
Slack - Ideal for day-to-day communication.
Trello - A useful tool for setting up a simple workflow with a card-based project tracking system.
Google Docs - Allows for documents edited in real-time by multiple contributors and removes duplicative work siloed on individual computers
Timezone.io - A tool to help you know where your team is and what time zone they are in
Google Calendar - Easy access to everyone's availability to set times for meetings and events
Internal site/blog - Aside from the basic nuts and bolts tools above, think about ways everyone can keep up-to-date without combing through pages of updates. Some companies such as Automattic use an internal blog coupled with an alert system akin to Google Alerts to keep their team in sync.
Once you decide what tools to use, make sure your team understands how they should communicate and how often.
2.) Define What Working Remotely Means For Your Company
You want productive, happy employees, right? If you were in their position, what would you need to know to do your best? These are the questions you want to consider when defining the scope of your startup’s remote work culture. Companies such as Buffer openly champion their culture of mutual respect and trust, and often cite how remote work plays a significant role into their success. Though their team members might be in different time zones, the company is committed to bringing everyone together through retreats taking place at various locations every five months. An important takeaway from this example is that employees know what they are getting. They also know what they need to give and your commitment to follow through on them, then they have a standard to guide their efforts.
3.) Communicate and Collaborate Often
Whichever communication platforms you choose, build in opportunities to check on your team on a regular basis. Daily standups can translate into a chatroom or Slack channel, so problems get resolved in real time. Additionally, make sure teams are available to each other, regardless of the time zone for at least a certain amount of hours each day. This way, questions aren't left unanswered for the next day. If you're not able to meet your teams in person, empower them to meet virtually via Google Hangouts or other collaborative channels to develop rapport across the organization. As the leader of the organization or the person in charge of managing teams, take an active role in checking in with each member working remotely on an individual basis. Calls could cover work-related topics and can also extend into the same kind of conversation you would have with colleagues you see on a daily basis. Sometimes people just want to have a casual chat, and that can make all the difference in how they view the work they do no matter how far away they are.