How can you ensure the success of your remote workforce? 

Being in a software startup where remote work is part of daily life, we get asked this question a lot — by job applicants and peers alike. It's a situation that's near and dear to our heart as Wrike was created to solve collaboration issues among remote team members. So when people ask how they can ensure the success of their remote workers, we draw from our own experience. 

This is how we set up our virtual teams for success in Wrike. 

1. Nurture a Communication Culture

It’s important to have an office culture that makes it easy for an employee to communicate with everyone else whether they’re working in the office or working remotely.

The remote worker should be able to communicate with the rest of the team in an easy way using the agreed-upon technology. Here at Wrike, we strongly believe that the three basic technologies for remote work are: 

  • A work management platform (such as Wrike)
  • A file editing system (such as Google Docs/Drive), and 
  • A screensharing/voice chat software (such as Skype or Google Hangouts).

It should be made clear to everyone in the company that “These are the main tools we use for communication.” And if it's not in these tools, it wasn't communicated properly. 

Get people used to using the tool and communicating when there's a roadblock. In the same vein, get everyone into the habit of sharing their small successes and victories. It serves as an awesome motivator. 

It’s easy for remote workers to feel like cogs in a machine being given orders. Communication helps maintain a good human relationship with them so that they know they are valuable members of the team.

2. Set Metrics

How can you measure success for the remote worker? Metrics. 

Metrics can help you evaluate the success of your remote workers, but try to boil it down to the metric that really matters. Take our support team as an example: we measure the time it takes to respond to a ticket, how long it takes to resolve, how many tickets come at which time of day, and many more, the most important one for our support organization is our Customer Satisfaction (CSAT) score. As long as our CSAT score is high, we can safely assume that all individual contributors are performing at a high level. But we have the data available to report on individuals or subgroups if needed. And by comparing metrics from week to week, we can monitor how well we're improving our customer support processes.  

3. Ensure Face-to-Face Interaction Happens

Here's a truth you need to face even when working with a virtual team: nothing can replace in-person interaction. So find a way to meet regularly. Or at the very least, be able to see each other's faces on a regular basis via webcams.

Some suggestions:

a) Make webcams a necessity for remote workers. 

Being able to talk to someone's face is essential to building camaraderie and reading non-verbal communication.

b) Call instead of write. 

Remote workers tend to write a lot of emails, and this takes time. If you want to speed up the process, opt for voice communications and video calls over emailing or instant messaging. 

c) Schedule times throughout the year to actually meet in person. 

Being able to work side-by-side in the same office environment for 3 to 5 days at a time can provide a better understanding of your teammates' habits and personalities. 

How Do You Make Remote Teamwork A Success?

Remote work will always be a challenging situation for both the company and the individual worker. But following these three guidelines will help ensure that your remote workers are given the chance to succeed at their work — despite the distance. 

Image credits: Geekgrind on Flickr. Some rights reserved

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