With the COVID-19 pandemic continuing to wreak havoc and turn our world upside down, it looks like many businesses may find themselves operating indefinitely with a remote workforce. According to Gallup research in October 2020, 33 percent of U.S. workers are always working remotely. Moreover, almost two-thirds of them want to continue to work remotely (Brenan).
#Strella Social Media has relied on outsourced professionals who work remotely for over a decade; that has been a part of our business model from the very beginning. In fact, our core team consists of independent contractors. When business owners outsource a role, they may question whether outsourcing to another business owner would provide the same commitment that hiring an employee would bring to the job. I’ve found that if an independent contractor aligns with your values… then yes, that contractor will be just as dedicated to serving you as a client as you are to serving your clients.
As #Strella is now growing—globally—having a remote working environment is vital for attracting and retaining top talent. We have several generations included in our team—folks in their 20s, 30s, 40s, and 50s—and several countries represented, including the U.S., Canada, United Kingdom, and Australia. Everyone brings something unique to the group, and everyone is accustomed to working together virtually.
However, I realize that many businesses struggle with how to manage their team and keep them engaged without the in-person connection of being together in an office. Here are some tips that might help you if you're dealing with those challenges.
Four Tips for a Successful Remote Work Culture
1. Leverage Your Company’s Core Values.
Core values are essential regardless of your working environment, but they become even more critical when managing a remote team. When you have a solid set of core values to establish expectations and drive performance, your team will have a foundation of accountability and integrity to aspire to. I encourage you to read the blog post our team member Sidney Hardin wrote, which describes how #Strella’s core values drive teamwork and performance. Having a culture that supports technological innovation is key. A tech consultant can look at your organization from an outside perspective to better identify where you can use technology to become more efficient.
2. Make Remote Team Members Feel Special.
Whether your people are across town, the country, or the globe, they need to know they are valued members of your team. Find ways to keep them informed and included. For example, at #Strella, we have a private Facebook group for all of our team members. It serves as the heart of our internal communications. It's where we share team member awards, celebrate birthdays, recognize achievements, post company updates, and industry news, and share other fun stuff.
3. Take Time to Onboard Remote Talent.
I would argue that a fine-tuned onboarding process for remote team members is as critical for remote team members as for those on-site; perhaps even more critical. You can't be with your remote team members to guide them in-person, so you'll need to ensure they have detailed information about their responsibilities, the systems you use, your customer base, other team members' roles, and more. For instance, #Strella's onboarding process for any candidate to join our team begins with a sample assignment. Should that work out, we send a written agreement detailing the team member's responsibilities; schedule onboarding meetings; share information about our team, clients, systems, and processes; and provide technical guidance if needed. I've also been advised to use a virtual office as they are a great way to get total privacy when you run the business from home. So for a business in Liverpool, I chose one of the best virtual offices in Liverpool and it's just awesome, they forward my mail and I get to keep my home postal address private so it's just great.
Getting new remote team members up to speed is essential. However, for the arrangement to be a win-win for them and your company, you must continue to engage and interact with your off-site team members. Ongoing communication is crucial. At #Strella, we have team check-ins, monthly surveys, virtual meetings (core team and all-team), and other methods and tools for communicating daily, weekly, monthly, and annually. We also recently started a mentoring program within our team—currently, with three mentor-mentee pairs matched for this quarter.
Your Offsite Team Can Yield Out-of-Sight Results
A remote team can benefit your business in multiple ways as it brings diverse experience, perspectives, skills, and talents to your team. The key is to stay focused on the "team" element, regardless of whether you're managing off-site employees or independent contractors. By facilitating collaboration and empowering remote team members to perform optimally, you will chart a course for achieving—even exceeding—your goals for growth and success.
Brenan, Megan. “COVID-19 and Remote Work: An Update.” GALLUP, 13 October 2020, . Accessed 3 January 2020.