For startups now, it can be especially challenging to get your business off the ground without conventional office dynamics. With most people working remotely, it’s tough even for established businesses to adjust to a distributed workforce. Here are some tips to give you the edge and help you get started if you’re just trying to get the ball rolling.
The notion of operating a fully remote organization is fraught with peril for typical founders and team leaders. Yeah, there is a chance to minimize overheads and hire from everywhere, but is it really worth it at the cost of creating a consistent brand culture under one (literal, physical) roof?
Many organizations had to quickly figure out if they were operating remotely (for obvious 2020 reasons), but many successful startups understood the advantages long before a pandemic forced their hand. When it comes to WFH, companies like Buffer, Mozilla, and Zapier have blazed a trail, while tech giants Twitter and Google are now giving their workers the chance to work remotely forever.
There are few main elements to getting it right, as we will discover in this article, namely in the stages of recruiting, rising, and managing. And the three non-negotiable core values of remote working are woven throughout: faith, teamwork, and communication skills.
1. Recruit and hire new talent remotely
The great thing about remotely developing your startup is that you're not limited to your pool of local talent. You can spread your net far and wide to find the best candidates for your situation, no matter where in the world they're located.
Yet, while the selection of candidates is certainly greater, the purpose of recruiting for a remote job is not all that different from recruiting in-person. Ultimately, spotting, vetting, and interviewing talent are always tasked with you, you're now doing it completely online.
Any recruitment campaign should aim for identifying and hiring individuals you can trust. But for a fast-growing startup, doing this remotely adds an aspect of time pressure. On social media, you can not always stick an ad up and wait for an influx of applicants. You need to go out there often and find the best candidate yourself, easily.
The good news is, there are a range of designed interactive channels for this. For low-skilled, one-off, or short-term needs, websites such as Upwork, Fiverr and others are strong choices. On these pages, you will typically find a confirmed freelancer with very little fuss for basic graphic design, data-entry, or copywriting tasks.
On the other hand, recruiting remotely for high-skilled, core team positions requires a somewhat different strategy. Instead of simply delegating smaller tasks to hourly freelancers, there's more risk involved when developing your squad. You need to make sure that everyone you introduce to your payroll has the right mixture of expertise, character, and community to hit the ground running, or you're back to square one.
New platforms are starting up and shifting the game beyond the traditional freelance or contractor recruiting sites by managing the responsibility of due diligence and screening out anyone who does not suit your needs and profile. They implement stuff like stringent vetting, the use of professional reviews, video interviews, and reference checks. This decreases the amount of time and resources you spent on determining a candidate's suitability or reputation, and ensures you can recruit better, faster.
2. Give your employees the right tools
When it comes to working successfully remotely, you need to make sure your team has all the best tools for their home offices. That’s why it’s worth investing in smart ergonomic office tools like a SmartDesk 2 or a Kinn Chair so that your employees work productively and comfortably from home.
It’s been shown that a sedentary lifestyle can kill your health, mood, and productivity. That’s why it’s important for startups working remotely to ensure all their employees are working the the latest and greatest ergonomic office tools.
3. Communication: consistent and regularly implemented
As we have stated, connectivity and cooperation are non-negotiable when it comes to productive remote working, along with confidence. To allow for efficient collaboration, you need consistent communication processes. You will need the team's buy-in; each of them must realize the value of frequent communication with their colleagues.
It is, therefore, a good idea to start with a team check-in at the start of each day. Much like you would have a stand-up meeting or a scrum in the workplace, the first thing to jump on a video call gives you an opportunity to answer questions and concerns, guarantees that everybody understands what they're doing, and gives the team the opportunity to see each other and talk to each other. This also avoids the creation of siloes, or people being lonely or disenfranchised.
4. Effective remote management methods
It is not without its difficulties to run a remote team. And maybe the most critical of these is the fact that you don't get as much face-to-face time with your workers in person.
Yeah, you can jump on a video call, but if you were sitting in the same room, it can still be hard to pick up on subtle emotional signals and body language shifts that you might detect. This means that you will miss out on recognizing the workers who most need your assistance.
You need to ensure that your workers are inspired by meaningful work to protect against this, that they know that you care about them (professionally and personally), and that they have an opportunity to raise concerns, ask questions, and provide input.
5. Keep your team motivated for optimal results
It's up to you to do non-boring stuff. And, in general, the best thing about working in a startup is that each person has a very specialized, essential growth-oriented position. Everyone can see that what they do has an impact.
And when you're developing your startup remotely, this must remain true. As you pursue the next growth milestone, every single employee should have visibility (and be visible). They cannot be allowed to work in a silo, wondering if it really matters what they're doing.
Also, you can't let a personal or group win slip under the radar without a bit of fanfare to keep your startup team motivated, particularly when you're working remotely. Anything as easy as public congratulations on your overall Slack channel (with all your favorite emojis and gifs) will easily draw attention to good work and those responsible. To make it extra sweet, you might even spring for some perks.
Plus, celebrating success publicly indicates that you are paying attention (employees feel valued) and that you really care. The same goes for highlighting significant achievements in the personal lives of your workers. Offer birthday shout outs, charity work, family events; show that you're involved in more than their success at work.
6. Maintain a transparent performance review process
If you have set expectations and explained what success looks like, a remote performance review provides each employee with a designated, organized touchpoint to focus on their job, their performance, and look forward to the priorities and goals of their next cycle. What's more, performance reviews provide the employee a voice for expressing complaints or giving you honest input about how you are performing.
A safe remote working climate is conducive to this structured one-to-one, but it should not be the only opportunity for conversation. Try to arrange daily, casual check-in meetings regularly over a (virtual) coffee, which will give you the ability to catch any minor problems early before they mushroom into real issues.
You should not only pay lip service to the basic values of remote working if you're going to succeed in developing your startup remotely. You need coordination, teamwork, and confidence to eat, sleep and breathe, putting them into practice at any opportunity.
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