This is a guest post by Elizabeth Weiner, Director of Client Services at BOLD Worldwide, a fully-integrated advertising agency.
Working remotely is the new norm. A recent survey of more than 15,000 adults revealed that 43 percent of employed Americans spent at least some time working remotely, a four percentage point increase since 2012. Those who reported working remotely four to five days a week rose to 31 percent in 2016 from 24 percent in 2012. This new office style introduces a new set of challenges for supervisors, with everything from building a strong team to keeping employees motivated.
As BOLD Worldwide expands to Miami and opens a new office, we look forward to bridging the gap between Florida and New York with a strong remote team. Every company and team will be different, but here are some key tips that I have found to help establish camaraderie, stay organized and increase productivity:
Create a Standard Onboarding Process for New Hires
It’s much harder to onboard new employees when they’re not in a physical office sitting next to you. Prepare by having the right training videos/programs to explain your methods and processes. Make sure your new hires are comfortable in their new role and feel confident in their ability to perform to your expectations. At BOLD, we utilize video meetings to help bridge the communication gap that could happen when having multiple office locations or a remote team member. Being able to solve problems or brainstorm ideas while being “face-to-face” with your team helps add a level of depth to the communication and gives you a sense of being in an office setting.
Build a Strong Culture
It IS possible to create strong company culture even for remote and freelance employees, but it can be difficult to do so through only written words. There is no one-size-fits-all solution for team communication, so determine the best communication style for your team, whether it’s through email, phone calls, video conferencing, messaging platforms or screen-sharing tools. Try to meet in person a few times each year to create stronger bonds, inspire your team, and reinforce your vision and the company mission. Show your employees you care by starting non-work related conversations and acknowledging special occasions. It’s crucial to make remote employees feel like they are not working separately, but are part of a larger team.
Since you’re not meeting with all of your teammates regularly in person, it’s important to make up for the lack of face-to-face interaction. Create opportunities to catch up with long-distance employees instead of waiting until something specific needs attention. Use the right remote workplace tools to keep documents and conversations organized. Most remote teams require not only email and file sharing capacity, but also a project management tools, instant messaging platform and tools and resources specific to your industry. Use chat and video tools like Slack, Skype, and Google Hangouts to encourage productive conversation. This will have a watercooler effect, creating the feeling of a social connection even without the face time.
Manage Tracking, Goals, and Reviews
Making sure employees stay on track is key to the success of a remote team. In a traditional office environment it’s easier to track attendance and work performance. Remote employees expect a level of flexibility, but it’s important to establish a schedule so that team members can easily collaborate. Rather than keeping track of hours worked and simply output of work, focus on the outcome that you’re creating for clients and hold that standard across the board. Developing the best strategy to manage your company will vary based on your business model, company values, and your employees’ needs. It’s important to implement these tips from the start and listen to your team to find out what’s working and what’s not.
Opening a new office across the country doesn’t have to be intimidating for a growing company. Find what works for your team and treat the new members as an extension of your existing group. Finding success working remotely can be as simple as keeping lines of communication open, organizing your team, and making each person feel valued.
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