In this digital era, more companies are open to work with offshore team member. While you think it will be easy with the wide internet connection available, the reality can be trickier than you think.
Webkos has worked with several overseas agencies; providing resources from project manager, designer, developer, to data entry staff. Based on our research and experiences, here are 10 tips for you to get the best from your remote team members.
1. Introduce them to your company handbook
A company handbook is vital for both onsite and remote team members. While it can be quite easy to inform a new on-site team member about the company’s processes and procedures by having an induction session, it will be much harder for a remote team member. Having a handbook that is accessible by both onsite and remote team members can help you point them to the “whats” and “hows” of your company and they can then refer back to this documentation whenever they need to understand the company’s rules.
2. Make them feel part of your team
Remote team members can often feel like they are on their own – the distance or different time zones they are in can contribute to this. It is extremely important to introduce the remote team members to the on-site team. Making them feel welcome by the team can help boost their sense of belonging to your company. They should be included via video chat in all team meetings and regular sessions should be organised to share ideas.
3. Trust in your team
When working with a remote team, it is very easy be suspicious of your team member. You can’t watch them work, and you may be wondering if they really do work the number of hours they claim to. While there is always the chance that some people might act this way, there are more honest people in this world and hopefully your recruiting process and instincts should have helped you choose the right people. Believe in yourself and them; instead of being suspicious of them, review their work and if you feel the amount of work delivered doesn’t match the time spent, have a one-on-one conversation with them to understand their struggles, and help them overcome any difficulties.
4. Regular sync up
Having multiple team members working on a single project can be tricky when all the team is in one location, let alone multiple locations. Schedule and commit to regular sync-ups to keep all project members up to date about the project, where they are, and where they are going. It is strongly advised to use a collaboration tool to help them communicate in real time.
5. Hold non-work related communication sessions
All work and no play makes for a dull day. This holds true for both staff in an office as well as for your remote team members. Everyone needs an outlet to relieve stress occasionally. Use your collaboration tools to create a channel dedicated for random non-work related communication for team members to engage.
6. Create a buddy-program
If your remote team member is relatively new to a working environment, they will likely need guidance from senior members to help them in their work and also to better understand how your company operates. Create a buddy program between remote team member and on-site team members. This will also help the remote team members to understand the company’s culture more quickly and well as building up comradery.
7. Implement a good change management procedure
In the digital agency business, one development project can be done by multiple developers. The risk of one developer overwriting the other dev’s work is quite high when you don’t have a proper change management procedure in place. Appoint a senior team member as the Release Manager who does code review and deployment to the test site in order to minimise the risk of having the test site broken by a wrong code being pushed by the developer. This especially holds true when having remote team members that can’t easily walk over to another team member’s desk and chat.
8. Make use of Project Management software
There are countless PM systems available. Choose one that helps you manage the team’s schedule, project’s data, communication, and workflow in a single system. Ensure everyone uses the system to keep them all in tune and remove the headache of having to trace your email history for project communication from last year!
9. Acknowledge and Recognise
When a big project finishes, it is time to celebrate – don’t forget your remote team members. Acknowledge their contributions and provide them with recognition to show that you value them as part of the team. Don’t always wait until the end of a project – receiving even a simple thing such as a thank you note will make a difference to someone’s day and will boost their morale & energy helping deliver better work.
10. Meet them in person
You communicate regularly with them via chat and video calls, but there is no better way to truly know someone until you meet them in person. Try and plan regular trips to visit your remote team members, or better still, book them a flight to visit your office. It’s an effective way for both you and them to build rapport and to experience each other’s culture – you will both discover better ways to collaborate.