What are the challenges of building a remote team?

Question: What are the challenges of building a remote team? Read answers from remote workers to learn.

Interview with Nathan and Connor, owners of Freeeup

Motivation. When you’re in an office, you can be a hands-on leader more easily. You can pop over to people’s desks, hold meetings together, etc. When running a remote team, you can still do all of those things, but it becomes more difficult. That’s why having great communication channels set up is so important.

Skype chat can be the equivalent of stopping by someone’s desk. Just have everyone on your team on Skype when they’re working. Then that check-in is simple as a chat. Schedule weekly meetings where you meet with the entire team and then smaller groups of people. Do it in a Skype group chat or using a tool like Zoom.

The challenges are definitely there, but with today’s digital resources, there’s a solution to all of them. You just need to figure out which ones work best for you and your company.

Thinking of creating your own remote startup? See how Nathan and Connor built a successful and effective remote team from scratch.

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Interview with Ayush, a CEO and avid remote team builder

The challenges in building a remote team are very similar to the difficulties in building a local team. For example:

  • Finding people oriented to your vision. For remote, you will have to reinforce the mission and the vision further. Once that is done it is easier to ensure you do not commit common mistakes of managing remote workers.

  • Taking the time to invest in remote workers. Make sure that you spend enough time and attention to the training of remote workers

  • Creating a culture of collaboration. You need to build an ecosystem with remote workers collaborating just like you would build out locally.

Ayush is a CEO that is committed to helping companies build successful remote teams—see his process and tips for developing location independent teams that thrive.

Read full interview from Interview with Ayush, a CEO and avid remote team builder.

Interview with Gino, a founder skilled in building remote teams

Many of the challenges are the same as building an in-office team.

One, we are focusing heavily as of late on talent sourcing. Many recruiting managers overlook the importance of sourcing. They think it’s a numbers game.

I think the more effort you put into this stage, the more fruitful the rest of the recruiting process will be. If in the sourcing stage you are putting low-quality candidates into the flow, the interviews themselves aren’t going to do much to make them better candidates.

A lot of recruiting companies and hiring teams place low-level team members on the sourcing side. That makes no sense to me.

What good does a great recruiter and closer do down the line if in the very beginning of the process low-level team members with no technical expertise are putting candidates who are clearly not the right fit into the process?

If I had to focus on some remote-specific challenges when it comes to building a remote team, it could be the hiring manager’s reference network.

If I hire someone locally, I might have a better feel for the reputation and weight of the candidate’s references or past employers. If the job is open to remote candidates and I want to interview a candidate who is based in Buenos Aires, Argentina, a hiring manager in the U.S. could have a harder time placing weights on the reputation of the candidate’s past employers, references, etc.

This also applies for hiring managers who might be in Los Angeles, and they are interviewing a candidate that lives in Miami, Florida. Perhaps the hiring manager doesn’t share many past connections with the candidate, and it’s harder for the hiring manager to get more meaningful references.

Gino realized how important remote work could be to finding the best talent—see his strategies for building remote teams.

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Interview with Hrishikesh, an entrepreneur helping to shape remote work

The challenges are multifold. It begins with hiring the right set of people who can comprehend extensive documentation and communicate (in written form) effectively in a remote setting. Once you have them on board, it is critical to have the right alignment from the beginning.

Synchronous, as well as asynchronous modes of communication and the corresponding rules, need to be defined.

For example, at Flexiple, we use emails primarily to communicate with each other. Only if there is something that warrants a discussion, do we go-ahead to schedule a meeting (mostly on Skype). This makes sure you respect the other person’s time.

We still need a channel where we can expect a response quickly. For this, we use Google Hangouts and Whatsapp for mostly personal chats. However, everyone is aligned that this channel needs to be used sparingly and almost always as a fallback after you haven’t received a quick response on email.

It is also critical that you still have in-person interactions whenever possible.

Most of the freelancers that we work with also travel to attend meetups in other cities. We make it a point to meet up with them whenever they are in Bangalore.

Hrishikesh's platforms are helping to shape the world of remote work and the gig economy—see how he mobilizes his remote teams to facilitate this new future of work.

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Interview with Kristi, a CEO and remote team leader

Finding people who are motivated and driven to get incredibly high-quality work done on deadline is a biggie.

Everyone wants to work remotely, but not all pros are wired to be productive outside of an office environment—or at the very least, many will require a ramping-up period.

Another challenge is communication: though I'm not into phone calls (as my husband can attest!), I will call a teammate or client at the first whiff of a misunderstanding. I've found that it has staved off confusing circumstances and has strengthened relationships.

Kristi is a CEO, remote work author, and speaker. In this interview, she shares the impact of new motherhood and remote team leadership on her work.

Read full interview from Interview with Kristi, a CEO and remote team leader.

Interview with Vivek, an entrepreneur building a virtual office for remote teams

Truthfully, it's much easier to build a culture in a physical office. Water cooler chats and bonding over lunch seem like inconsequential events, but they collectively build a strong sense of community that energizes a team.

But, that doesn't mean that you can't recreate those important bonding moments virtually. Managers have to be especially diligent about the tools and processes that they introduce to make sure that teammates feel like they have an outlet to bond.

Hosting office hours and happy hours virtually can be a great way to make people feel more connected.

The long San Francisco commute sent Vivek into remote work—hear about his three strategies for eliminating distractions & his must-have tools.

Read full interview from Interview with Vivek, an entrepreneur building a virtual office for remote teams.

Interview with Saibu, an HR content writer for a remote company

Challenges? There's a lot. Communication, collaboration, monitoring, to mention just a few. But these challenges aren't just about remote work. Even office-based teams face these issues as well, even when they're in the same building. It all boils down to how good you're in managing your team.

And that's where human resources come in.

I think the biggest challenge, now and in the future, will be finding or building human resource managers geared towards remote teams.

This is something we're doing at Remoteteam.com, helping remote companies manage payroll, compliance, and more.

Hear how Saibu, a thriving HR content writer, navigates the complexities—and perks—of working with a remote team from Ghana.

Read full interview from Interview with Saibu, an HR content writer for a remote company.

Interview with Andrew, co-founder and CEO of Insured Nomads

Communication must be intentional and strategic, and camaraderie is tougher to build without in-person events and time.

Andrew, co-founder, and CEO of Insured Nomads talks traveling while working, productivity tools, and the best advice he has received.

Read full interview from Interview with Andrew, co-founder and CEO of Insured Nomads.

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