Remote work has gained a lot of popularity since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic. When most businesses were forced to adapt to remote work as the world went on lockdown, business owners, leaders and employees alike started to understand the benefits that remote work has to offer, with better work-life balance topping the list.
But while there are many upsides to running a remote workforce, there are several issues that entrepreneurs and business owners may encounter when trying to build a totally remote company. Here, nine members of Young Entrepreneur Council discuss the potential solutions to those issues and why they’ll help set you up for success.
1. Draft A Company Playbook
Fully remote companies are discovering that they can’t rely on perks and swanky office spaces to drive company culture; management styles, policies and business tools are your culture. When choosing them, start by drafting a company playbook, stating your purpose and mission for each key aspect of people operations, and make sure that your decisions align with the type of culture you want to foster. Remind managers to lead by example and make sure they understand why each policy is relevant so that it doesn’t get lost in translation as it trickles down the company. You can also build culture through the remote collaboration tools offered to employees. Certain tools show your employees where you stand on flexibility and autonomy and what you as a leadership team value and prioritize. - Luciana Safdie, Spot Meetings, Inc.
2. Create A Strong Culture With Key Gatherings
One issue you may run into when trying to build a totally remote culture is creating a strong culture. We have overcome it with three consistent meetings: 1) A daily "roll call" on Zoom where all employees are invited to show up and ask any one question. It's been so fun getting to know everyone and what they are up to; 2) A monthly two-hour town hall. We start with a 30-minute Zoom game, followed by our extended level-10 meeting. We review scorecards, condensed financials, VTO, rocks (goals), to-dos and issues; 3) An annual all-company retreat. This year, we hosted at an all-inclusive resort in Florida. We are accruing this expense all year instead of paying rent. It was a great three-day opportunity to update our annual plan and vision, get to know each other personally and have some fun. - Ashley Ingle, Profit Matters
3. Hire The Right Employees
I believe there are employees who are more "right" for remote work than others. It has to do with whether or not they do well with self-direction. When I'm hiring, when I'm forming partnerships, I look at my relationship with the other person and my ability to communicate with them as the foundation of the hire or partnership. I'll have multiple conversations with that person so that I can have a clear sense of their expectations and how they think and communicate. I'm looking for the type of compatibility that will be the foundation for a great remote team member. As long as we have that communication in place, the rest is easy. - Tyler Bray, TK Trailer Parts
4. Use People Management Tools
While many point to culture and communication, they are missing a bigger issue: their company’s people management tool. We use monday.com, which stores everyone’s tasks in one location, visible by the entire team. This single source is where marketing plans their social media posting, development communicates with their project managers about tasks created and where our management asks resources to complete tasks. Through this single source of truth, our culture has been born out of how we communicate in the people management tool, saying “please” and “thank you.” Each task has a “who viewed this” feature, which allows us to stop asking, “Did you see this?” because our global team is in different time zones. When your company has a people management tool, remote communication is no longer an issue. - Andrew Amann, NineTwoThree Digital Ventures
5. Host Intentional Meetings And Activities
One of the biggest advantages of having an in-person team is that it helps more easily build close bonds and camaraderie among teammates. In-person interactions help build friendships outside of work. As founders around the world are looking to build remote teams and grow their companies, culture-building will be top of mind. For us, we are very intentional in how we build company culture and encourage relationship-building among co-workers outside of work-related settings. Several strategies that we have used are also used by many of our advisors (CEOs of multibillion-dollar companies). They are: 1) Having all-hands-on-deck meetings once a month; 2) Quarterly three-day on-site meetings; 3) Weekly online trivia; 4) Weekly PechaKucha, where someone on the team presents a 20-slide presentation of their lives. - Dennis Chang, RoadFlex
6. Prepare Detailed Training Information
Training people remotely is really difficult. Employees end up wasting a lot of time working on tasks that don't fully align with your business or brand, which can be quite costly. Getting everyone on the same page when not in the same room is really tough. Doing the work on the front end, by preparing more detailed info and references about your business and your expectations that employees can refer to down the road can be really helpful—though it can also create a lot of work for the manager. - Maryana Grinshpun, Mammoth Projects
7. Have 'Welcome' Video Calls
One issue that had come up for us as we were transitioning to a fully remote company was bringing new employees in and making them feel welcomed and included. Something that has helped with these transitions is having “welcome” video calls where a new employee has a chance to meet everyone in a relaxed, fun meeting. I also like to create several channels on Slack that contain small groups of different combinations of employees so that everyone can get to know each other and have a chance to collaborate with different people. - Reuben Yonatan, GetVoIP
8. Use Scorecards With KPIs
Accountability is key. It is extremely important for companies to have a practical set of tools that gives everyone in the team a number. From entry-level positions to senior executives, the entire team needs to be laser-focused in hitting specific measurables and knowing exactly how the pieces of the puzzle are getting connected. It is instrumental to use a good, ever-evolving scorecard that includes key performance indicators (KPIs) that reinforce the clear, shared-by-all vision of the company and the roles, responsibilities and expectations that the organization has from everybody in it. - Adrian Romero, Cápita Works
9. Implement Collaborative Software
Effective collaboration can be a problem among remote teams who are using a variety of tools to track projects, share documents and so on. To solve the problem, determine what tools your employees will use and specifically what they’ll be used for. Make sure all employees are trained on the process so they can collaborate efficiently and effectively. For example, use Slack for things people need immediate answers on. Use a project management tool like Asana or Trello for all communications related to specific projects and tasks associated with those projects (this is where the collaboration really happens). Use email for non-immediate communications. - Jonathan Prichard, MattressInsider.com
Young Entrepreneur Council members offer solutions to common problems faced by remote companies. PHOTOS COURTESY OF THE INDIVIDUAL MEMBERS.