4 Things You Need to Know About Managing a Remote Team
BY Laura Montini
An entrepreneur who runs a completely remote marketing company lists the key moves that make the arrangement work.
The best perk of working remotely just might be the peace of mind it brings. The ability to skip the stressful morning commute, roll out of bed, and jump onto the computer can make you feel infinitely more productive.
"I work all the time--remotely. But I don't feel like a workaholic and I'm not going to burn out. This is the great privilege of running a remote business," Betabeat editor-at-large Ryan Holiday wrote in a recent post. Holiday runs the marketing company Brass Check, and for the past three years he's lived in four cities and hired remote employees in at least five different states.
Speaking of hiring, that's another perk of the remote office--you have access to great talent regardless of where they're located on the globe.
However, while the idea of running a company in your pajamas from a cozy little home office sounds like a utopian work environment, it can take a lot of effort to make it work for your company. For this reason, Holiday compiled a long list of lessons learned from the past three years of managing employees from afar. Here's a few of his tips:
Rethink What it Means to "Work"
"People tend to think that what they do at the office is work, and everything else is not work. In reality a lot of things you do in your life make you more successful at work," Holiday said. For example, extensive reading and long walks can help to stimulate creativity and generate new ideas for the job. So why not let employees do those things during work hours? Allowing your employees to control their routine will allow you to get the best out of them.
Pick the Most Efficient Tools
Holiday uses project management software Basecamp for assigning tasks, Google Docs for creating documents and a reporting tool called 15Five for getting employee feedback. Holiday's tip: keep it simple and only use the tools that work for you.
Fit in Real Face Time
When you're in town for a meeting or conference, kill two birds with one stone. Make time to visit your nearby employees. "Having a drink with an employee every few months can mean months of seamless remote work," Holiday said. And when you're unable to see everyone on your travel schedule alone, fly them in for a company retreat.
Before booking your next business trip, always question what you'll get out of it since travel can significantly zap your energy and productivity. If you can't avoid the trip, then make sure you set a schedule beforehand that will help keep you effective. For example, stick to your exercise routine, eat healthy, and don't sacrifice sleep.
LAURA MONTINI is a reporter at Inc. She previously covered health care technology for Health 2.0 News and has served as an associate editor at The Health Care Blog. She lives in San Francisco. @lmmontini