Remote working is becoming a big thing. Companies, big and small are taking a serious interest in adapting to work remotely. And it is not just so that they can save money on office space and other operating expenses. It is also about being able to offer more to employees when it comes to freedom and work-life balance.
Setting up your team in a remote environment is a challenge but keeping it organised and maintained is a whole new obstacle. The ones in the forefront of this, are usually the project or product managers, but the bigger piece of the pie is handed over to HR specialists to juggle hiring & recruitment, managing employees, training and development and everything else in between that’s required to keep the wheels turning.
Here are some Human Resource tips to build an awesome remote team:
Tip 1: Set Clear Expectations When Hiring & Onboarding
Hiring is one of the most extensive tasks of an HR manager whether remote hiring or in real life. Finding the right talent affects not only the company’s performance but also its core culture. In a remote team, there is added pressure to find the right person because reliability and initiative are two traits that become incredibly important.
When onboarding, HR managers are tasked to not only make the new hire feel welcome but more importantly, be aligned with the vision, mission and purpose of the company. Ensuring your new team members are conscious of time zones, rules and working processes are vital to giving them the best chance for success.
Aside from the administrative tasks, for successful onboarding, there are a few crucial interpersonal touchpoints involved:
- Make them feel welcome
- Be their point person (not only on company-related stuff)
- Set up a clear plan to integrate the new person into the team since this doesn’t happen easily organically with a distributed team
- Set clear expectations upfront, especially on remote working
- Provide recommended guidelines on how you work and what’s a good set up to have (e.g. time zone tools, labeling conventions, scheduling parameters)
Honest communication with everyone is essential. When hiring, it is best to communicate with applicants the same way you communicate with the rest of the team, no matter how long you’ve been working together. This way, expectations are set, and team members become aware that they can talk to you. Doing this is especially important when it comes to remote onboarding as it is easy for a new hire to feel isolated when they are not in physical proximity to their new co-workers when they are first finding their feet.
Keep organised so that you can make quick decisions. Have information ready or know where to find it when faced with questions about salary, benefits, the company’s long-term plans, and project strategy, and more.
Tip 2: Keep Employee Details in Order & Up To Date
With today’s technology, there is no longer the confusion of messy stacks of paperwork. Everything can be stored in the cloud safe and secure and entirely (well, mostly) paperless. Stay organised and be consistent with file naming. Doing this will make your life easier as no matter where you need to access it from, you will know where to find it.
Also, if your team consists of people who are always traveling, be sure to update their HR file to include their most recent details – Local phone numbers, current addresses, and emergency contacts are details that are seldom used but are important to have when a need for them arises.
Tip 3: Have Consistent Feedback Sessions
Feedback sessions are vital to maintaining employee happiness and growth – and this means feedback in both ways! A conscious effort needs to be made to ensure important matters are discussed and that there’s always follow through on both parts.
Since you’re not in the same physical space as your team, issues can quickly accumulate because you don’t see a person often enough to realize something might be wrong. The key to overcoming this is to set up recurring check-ins to happen frequently. One-on-one sessions are a great way to facilitate this, and being remote should not be an excuse to forget them.
When it comes to remote sessions, it can be challenging to gather well-rounded feedback due to the nature of the dispersed personal interactions that is part and parcel of working remotely. To manage this, encourage everyone to openly talk about anything they want the other person to know and not only focus on work stuff. Peer reviews are great avenues to say and hear many things that are otherwise not discussed in team meetings.
Tip 4: Manage Disputes Immediately
Disputes can have the potential to go unresolved in a remote team. It’s all too easy to walk away from your computer when you get upset in a Skype call and leave issues unresolved until it eats the relationship away.
When disputes arise, it’s imperative that the fire’s extinguished quickly. Do this by talking to the people involved individually to understand the facts. Be sure to get them onto a video call with their cameras switched on. Many things can go unobserved when you’re not able to see each other’s faces.
Once you are aware of everything that transpired, get them together to openly talk about what has happened and what led to the misunderstanding.
From there, mediate and help parties find common ground in starting to fix the issue. Open and honest communication is crucial, and you need to make sure that you do not leave any stones unturned to uncover the truth and resolve the conflict.
However, this is not where the work ends as you need to make sure that what’s settled is indeed settled. To do this, make sure you check in with both parties now and then to see progress. Mini check-ins help the team stay on track. Remember that you have to be always aware of the first signs of conflict, so you can step in immediately before it gets any worse.
Tip 5: Handle Exits Graciously
Employee exits are never fun be it talking to someone you’re letting go of or someone who has resigned. A lot of emotions come to play especially for small teams that work closely together. Saying goodbye to someone via Hangouts is as hard as it is in real life.
Some things to remember in exits are:
- Remove employee access from tools for security purposes
- Be gracious!
- Offer to give recommendations (if it’s the truth)
- Keep in touch
As with exits in regular companies, an exit interview is often a great way for closure even with a remote team. Having videos turned off in a call makes it easy to feel disconnected, so switching your cameras on is the best way to ensure an honest, healthy and fruitful last conversation.
Human resource is an old science practiced since the beginning of the industrial era. Adjusting to a remote setting can be tricky, but it’s not impossible. With proper mindset, these non-negotiable skills and a good understanding of the challenges your company and you might face, obstacles can easily be overcome to create a happy and united team.
Remote working is an integral part of Melewi, if you want to learn more, please read our blog or feel free to reach out to us on Twitter at @melewi.