You’ve done it. You came up with a great business idea, and you were able to bring it to fruition. Now that word of mouth has spread, you find that your customer base is expanding and that you’re now in need of additional hands. Having heard about the benefits of hiring remote workers, you decide to add a few of them to your staff.
So, how do you get started if you want to build a collaborative and effective remote freelance team? It all comes down to a handful of simple yet meaningful principles:
1. Identify exactly how many freelancers you need.
The last thing you want to do is to hire too many remote workers from the get-go.
To avoid this, take an inventory of all the tasks that need to be completed every day or every week, and rank them from most important to least important. Once you’ve done that, go over it and tick off the ones that can still be done in-house. Examine whatever’s left afterwards and then hire no more than the people you need to complete them.
2. Craft your interview process carefully.
The interview process is basically the gateway into your company, so use it to weed out any potential troublemakers. Essentially, you want to design your interview process in a way that determines whether your applicants have the right skills and attitude.
Another thing you should watch out for in applicants is how well they communicate. You can even take things a step further and draft some communications guidelines for your candidates to review before the last phase of the interview, just so you can see how good they are at taking initiative and following instructions.
3. Make communication a cornerstone of company culture (if it isn’t already).
Speaking of communication, you have to establish its importance within your remote team from the very beginning. Regardless of who you end up hiring, be sure to train them to give you periodic status reports on their work, even without your prompting.
Keep yourself in the loop as well by regularly checking for status updates and maintaining a healthy dialogue with your remote workers.
4. Have the right technology in place.
Your telecommuters should be able to contact you should the need arise, as well as vice versa.
There is a wide range of software that’s been designed for remote working communication needs, so pick one that best suits your team’s needs. Slack or SAP SuccessFactors, for instance, can provide you with vital tools and HR infrastructures to allow for smooth and easy communication across in-house and remote teams.
5. Share your vision with each remote worker.
Your remote staff should have a good grasp of why s/he is there in the first place, so don’t forget to brief them on what you built the company for, and what you envision their role in it to be. Share daily, weekly, and big picture goals with your staff, and encourage them to come up with their own too so that they feel both empowered and accountable.
Employees who are fully aware of a company’s vision as well as their purpose in it usually turn out to be more efficient than those who aren’t. That goes for remote workers as well as for their office counterparts.
Building a remote team has both advantages and pitfalls. Hiring telecommuters allows you to leverage on the vast amount of global talent out there, and can thus grow your business significantly. On the other hand, it can also result in communication issues and cost inefficiencies if incorrectly implemented.
The key, therefore, is to ensure that you get started on the right foot, and that’s precisely what you need to keep in mind as you build (and possibly expand) your remote team.