Written by Maxwell Hills in collaboration with Wayviator.
Remote workforces are no longer the anomaly that they were years ago. Businesses in nearly every industry worldwide have continued to evolve their operational formats to afford the ability to implement and support remote and hybrid workforces - and for good reasons.
Remote workforces can significantly benefit businesses looking to scale their operations while managing their costs and remaining more agile. However, a fully remote workforce does need special attention and care in order to maximize productivity levels and avoid conflicts that can occur between isolated teams.
Breaking down the complexities of managing a fully remote team requires a fundamental understanding of the potential pain points associated with these working arrangements and what you can do as a business leader to minimize the downsides of remote operations if you're not careful.
The value of proper communication within a business environment can never be overstated. The level of communication an organization has or doesn't significantly impact every element of its operations state. It doesn't matter whether you work in front-office or back-office roles; no one moves toward the same objective without proper communication across all necessary channels.
Many companies struggle to find the right balance of communication across their teams when everyone works in the same building, let alone when teams are isolated in remote working environments or spread across multiple time zones. This means businesses need to take extra steps to ensure their remote workforces have a healthy method and cadence of communication across all necessary business systems and platforms.
One way this can be achieved is by establishing standard operating procedures (SOPs) associated with communication best practices that all team members understand and agree to. This ensures that the value of staying in regular contact, whether through team meetings, video conferences, stand up sessions, or roundtable discussions, is adequately expressed and enforced across all groups.
Goal Setting and Tracking
It can be difficult for anyone working in a remote setting to understand how they are performing in relation to the business's expectations. It's common for disconnected teams to keep their heads down, stay in their own lane, and follow their daily routine. However, as the needs of the business change, remote employees need to have a clear sense of their priorities and how they can continue to show they're contributing in progressive and profitable ways.
A great way to ensure both employer and employee are on the same page when it comes to expectations is by activating, setting goals and tracking important milestones with employees.
This requires dedication on the management team's part to ensure they spend adequate time with their employees and establish clear expectations on what type of deliverables they need to provide when working in a remote environment.
This clarity and acknowledgment of objectives being reached help reinforce the importance of structure for staff members who manage their own time. It also gives opportunities to build morale through commendations, rewards, or bonus structures.
While having the flexibility to work out of their home or setting a working schedule that works for them can be a great benefit for employees with remote or hybrid working arrangements, it can quickly become discouraging if they constantly feel "out of the loop" on what's going on with the organization.
Unfortunately, this can be a potentially dangerous scenario that usually occurs behind the scenes, eventually leading to remote employees "checking out" of their roles, no longer giving their best, and possibly leaving the company altogether. Employers can reduce this risk by actively looking for more ways to collaborate with "all" of their team members as often as possible.
There are a variety of tools and services that businesses can adopt to help their staff maintain healthy levels of collaboration with one another. For example, instant messaging apps like Slack and Microsoft Teams are great ways for teams to interact with each other regularly, while video conferencing tools like Zoom and Google Meet allow for face-to-face meetings.
These tools can be used for regularly scheduled team meetings, brainstorming sessions, and one-on-one interaction with managers or co-workers. Keeping a regular cross-department collaboration routine helps ensure everyone has a platform to share their ideas, concerns, and work progress across the whole company regardless of where they work.
As the owner of a family law firm managing a fully remote team, effective communication and coordination are paramount. To ensure seamless collaboration, I would leverage various digital tools and strategies. Regular virtual meetings, conducted via video conferencing platforms, would be scheduled to discuss ongoing cases, provide updates, and address any concerns or questions.
Additionally, we would maintain constant communication through messaging platforms and email, encouraging open dialogue and quick responses. Implementing project management software would help track tasks, deadlines, and progress, ensuring everyone stays on the same page.
Building a Strong Remote Team Culture
Some businesses have the misconception that giving employees the ability to work off site either permanently or through a hybrid working arrangement is enough to ensure a strong team culture. Unfortunately, the truth couldn't be more opposite than this belief. In fact, businesses with remote workforces often have to work even harder to ensure that company culture remains strong and consistent.
However, this doesn't mean you can build a great team culture even though your employees don't all work in the same building. Instead, team culture starts with remote teams sharing a common goal or objective while recognizing and accepting each other's strengths and weaknesses.
One way to help foster this type of working environment is by promoting trust, openness, and transparency across your employees. For example, regularly timed pulse surveys are a great way to give your team a chance to provide feedback and voice any concerns or ideas about the company.
You can also look for ways to create fun virtual events for employees, such as remote happy hours, virtual game nights, treasure hunts, or online quizzes that bring everyone together for one unified activity. This helps to establish strong bonds with each other while also cultivating an environment of inclusiveness and appreciation.
Manage Your Remote Team The Right Way
Remote workforces are becoming more commonplace, and businesses are wise to start making concessions to accommodate more flexible working arrangements whenever possible. This helps avoid costly overhead and lets the business benefit from a wider talent pool.
But to ensure the successful management of a remote workforce, employers must take active steps to foster collaboration and team spirit among their employees while also creating an atmosphere of trust and accountability. By doing this, businesses and law firms can reap the benefits of working with remote teams while also cultivating a strong and vibrant team.
Maxwell Hills is the founder of Hills Law Group, a premier Orange County divorce lawyer law firm with a concentration on high net worth divorces. Max’s entrepreneurial career stretches back to his teenage days when he had his music used in Grey’s Anatomy and ESPN. Today, Max has used that experience to build Hills Law Group from a startup firm with zero customers and no revenue to a respected firm in the industry.