Working with different time zones, building a solid company culture, ensuring work-life balance, and team monitoring are, amongst many, a few challenges of remote work startups. So how do you resolve them?
Well, my team and I reached out to experts in the industry and gathered 7 practical tips for managing successful remote work in startups. If you’re a CEO of a new brainchild, then keep on reading.
These tips will help you overcome remote work obstacles, unlock the employees' productivity, and ultimately, help you successfully grow a fully remote startup.
Let’s get into the meat of the story.
1. Hold Weekly Check-In Calls
Managers or CEOs should do a weekly check-in call – where everyone joins the meeting, from top to bottom. The call doesn't necessarily have to be in-depth but rather a general overview of what has happened in the last week and the priorities for the next week.
Everyone should share their progress, what they’re up to, and their game for the next assigned task. Everyone will feel involved and will be on the same page.
The weekly check-in calls are also a great place to find out if any team member is facing any obstacles. They should share it here so that the relevant department can fix it ASAP.
For instance, if a copywriter wants a specific online tool that can double the productivity game, ideally, managers should provide it.
2. Go In-Depth When Assigning Tasks — Even If You’ve to Record Screens
Communication is everything in a remote work setup. Especially when you’re a startup, you’re constantly in a rut to meet deadlines. Therefore, it’s always best to save time on revisions or ‘back and forths’ with the team.
Ideally, you should be allocating new tasks via Zoom calls. Record the screen, and then share the recording with the relevant team members — so they can always have the reference point.
Tom Miller, Director of Marketing at Fitness Volt, says, “When I assign new tasks to my graphic designer, I record my screen, explaining everything I’d like in my design. I’d show competitors’ examples and our previous best-done examples and set up clear expectations on what I’m looking for.
Then I’d also share relevant links and resources where my graphic designer could take help from. Finally, even if they still have questions, I give them a free hand to ask. Doing so saves us time on constant back & forth, and they get to understand exactly what I’m expecting.”
An interesting study by Mckinsey discovered that employees feel five times more productive if they receive detailed communication from their employers. In addition, clear communication helps employees understand the projects better and feel included and valued.
3. Create Personal 'Hangouts' Groups Besides Work Channels
Working is important. But bonding as a team is also super important. Especially when everyone is working virtually. Remote work is flexible, and everyone might love it on your team, but one of the downsides of it is that it cannot substitute a ‘real world personal touch’.
Steve Rose, Vice President at MoneyTransfers, puts it like this; “Those in-office watercooler gossips, scary pranks with colleagues, surprise pizza parties, shouting together with excitement when the new launch goes live, and singing happy birthday songs — all of this is important to build a collaborative, connected, and passion-driven team.
You can’t do all of that virtually. But, fortunately, you can create personal messenger groups of teams where they can share photos of their personal lives; cooking dishes, eating outside, doing something funny, and more.”
Even as simple as creating ‘watercooler’ Slack channels can be fun; teams can share their day-to-day activities outside of work, inspirations, hobbies, or even memes. Since it's a fully remote team, chances are some of the team members are working while traveling around beautiful locations. They get to share adventurous photos, inspire others to explore, develop confidence, or even do meet-ups in different parts of the world.
4. Hire The Right Team
Anyone who has worked remotely can attest that it takes a certain type of person to succeed at it. Startups are often composed of young, ambitious employees who are passionate about their work and driven to succeed.
To manage a successful remote team, it is important to hire the right people. Look for candidates who are self-motivated, organized, and good at communication.
Tom Hamilton-Stubber, Managing Director of TutorCruncher says, “Not everyone is cut out for remote work. Some feel distracted at home. Some might not have the necessary quiet rooms in their homes.
Some of them might not own fancy laptops or have fast, stable internet connections. Therefore, you must filter only the right candidates who are driven on their own, are passionate about working remotely, and have the necessary setup.”
5. Invest In Your Team
Investing in your team is one of the most important things you can do to ensure the success of your remote work arrangement. You can help your team members feel confident and capable in their roles by providing training, mentorship, and support.
In addition, regular check-ins and feedback will help to keep everyone on track and accountable. Finally, investing in your team will set them up for success and ensure that your remote work arrangement is productive and sustainable.
They’ll also feel valued and will be willing to grow with you. In fact, LinkedIn’s report shared that if you invest in the employee’s career growth, 93% of employees will stay longer than usual at your company. So it’s an investment that secures your long-term gains, which is much needed if you want to succeed as a startup.
6. Allow Them to Work on Non-Traditional Hours
As odd as it might sound, I believe there’s no such thing as a ‘perfect’ work-life balance. There will be days when you’ll be overworked and overwhelmed. There will be days when you’ll need to resolve an urgent client’s or customer’s issue at 2 AM.
There will also be days when you’ll be checking out at 2 PM. This is life. I’m not suggesting you completely forget your boundaries, but in the real world, such scenarios can appear.
While you definitely can’t expect to work your employees as hard and as passionately as you, you sure can keep remote work flexible. Understand that when your team is feeling burned out, overworked, or stressed.
If possible, try giving them relaxation and a sense of control. Let them set their own work hours. Some people are morning junkies. Some are night owls. The only concern you should have with your employees is meeting deadlines or achieving yearly goals.
7. Use Apps to Keep Track of Everything
There are tons of great apps out there that can help you track your tasks, projects, and team performance. These apps can be beneficial in keeping everyone accountable and on track. Our favorites include:
- Zoom, and
- Google Drive.
You can seamlessly share files, communicate, assign and manage tasks, and monitor teams. There is even software that allows you to record employees ‘check-in hours’ or their desktop screens.
Some of your employees might feel uncomfortable while being recorded, so it’s absolutely essential to communicate that clearly upfront. You don’t want to get into lawsuits of ‘recording employees unethically’.
“In a remote work setup, you must maintain a level of trust. You’ve to give your employees a sense of control. That’s what actually differentiates remote work from in-house setup.”
The future of work is remote — and that’s not us saying research by Upwork in a study discovered that 73% of all teams will likely be remote by 2028.
The future of work is shifting drastically. The only thing you can do now, as a remote startup, is to embrace the new workplace norms. Implement the above 7 practical tips to manage a fully remote team successfully.
How long have you been operating as a fully remote startup? What have been your experiences and findings? We’re always interested in learning directly from our audience. Comment below. Keep the discussion going.