Three Key Things You Should Know Before Hiring a Remote Team
Hiring remote developers definitely has benefits, although it can turn out challenging. The key to success is knowing the peculiarities beforehand.
There are three important steps of working with a remote team: hiring, interacting, and controlling. Today we will share the tips that will make each step work smoothly, guaranteeing the success of your project.
1. How to hire
Choosing your team wisely is, by far, the most important ingredient. It takes great dedication to work well in a remote environment, and it is definitely not for everyone. Looking for the right employees can be challenging and time-consuming, but it is ultimately the difference between failure and success.
As a manager, you should first clearly define the number of members, their roles, and responsibilities. If such details are hard to figure out, consider the goal of your project, and then work backward as you imagine your ideal team. Setting expectations early will help build the team faster and monitor their progress later.
Then it all comes to finding the best candidates. Here’s what to look for in remote workers:
- Independence. If you stop controlling the process for a moment, such people will continue working. They will always find something meaningful to do, even without a task list. A propensity towards action is an immensely valuable trait.
- Ability to prioritize. Remote workers often have to deal with unclear priorities due to flawed communication. You need people who know how to focus on the right tasks.
- Writing skills. In a remote situation, most communication happens via text (email, chats, private messages, etc.). If a candidate cannot write clearly and concisely, it will likely create many inconveniences.
- Trustworthiness. Remote work will not work without trusting the person on the other end of the line. Not being able to see such a person every day will cost you a lot of time and worrying, while you should be focusing on the product.
- Supporting themselves. You need people who have their own social support system. If a person is heavily reliant on the workplace in terms of socializing, a remote environment will likely make them go crazy.
This list should help you narrow down the list of your top candidates. We also recommend using a skills assessment that speaks closely to the actual day-to-day work of your future remote employees. And of course, considering if the team fits together. For example, you might give a say to your current workers.
2. How to interact
Once you build a team, it is important to establish the working processes correctly. You can break it into two parts worth considering: tools and rules.
A choice of digital tools for remote teams is very individual; we recommend trying several combinations and gathering the team’s feedback. Each company has its own favorite products that work best for them. Here are the types of tools you might want to consider:
- A chat tool like Slack is good for synchronous (constant) communication and real-time connection.
- A shared digital workspace like Trello allows tracking the progress and assignments of different workers.
- A video meeting tool, like Zoom or Skype, is an absolute must for remote teams.
- Cloud-based open document storage like Dropbox will save you a lot of time providing shared access to the needed files.
- A common team calendar like Google Calendar with due dates, important launches, shared meetings, and holidays will remind of important things and show people’s availability.
Having chosen the tools, you should remember to use them wisely. For example, instant messaging is good for urgent questions, phone calls are good for explanations, and lengthy or difficult conversations should be saved for video chat.
To make it work, you need to clearly outline what each tool should be used for and when. Call it a Communication Strategy or Charter, and document it in an open and accessible place.
You can include rules on:
- Key deadlines
- Work hours
- Respond to messages etc.
Of course, this document should not be carved in stone. In fact, it would be very useful to check in on it together, say, on a quarterly basis. You can also use these tips to make communication work:
- Check-in daily (and predictably)
- Find time for team building and fun
- Stick to working hours to avoid burnout
- Establish the buddy system
- Shout out success
- Focus on outcomes, not the activity
- Create opportunities to meet in-person
Find more tips on how to communicate with an offshore team here.
3. How to control
Remote team members have a lot of freedom, which, from one point of view, is a plus. But how do you know if they are working and going to deliver everything on time? For managers, it is one of the biggest fears. However, it can easily be tackled through transparency and accountability.
Of course, you can track key metrics of the project and try to oversee problems. Following our advice from the above will give you even more control, visibility, and transparency. For example:
- Setting up clear roles and responsibilities
- Making their specific goals clear for the team members
- Setting up ground rules for schedule and communication.
If you want even more possibilities, you might want to consider solutions like in-house recruiting and outstaffing.
As a manager, you can track the success of a team through many signs apart from a healthy record of activity. For example, if your employees are confident about how to use communication tools, add items for discussion frequently, take initiatives to track and follow the goals of the project, interact with each other easily, suggest ideas, then you can be sure everything is on track.
However, you should remember the importance of trust. It is safe to say that trust is the most important factor of success in remote teams. Yes, it is hard to trust that people you never see are doing what they say they are doing, especially if it is your first experience of working with remote teams. But micromanagement might not be the right tactic.
Instead, try creating procedures for your employees to update you periodically. And trust them, unless they give you a reason not to do so. Think about it: in fact, remote workers are more productive and dedicated and work more hours than traditional employees. If you create the right environment, you can receive outstanding results. It’s up to you!