The Pros And Cons Of A Remote Team And How To Manage It

Arguably one of the most beneficial aspects of being a full-time blogger is the opportunity to work from home. However, as your audience and your brand grow larger and larger, it becomes harder and harder to manage your business on your own.

Enter: your remote team.

But before you choose your team, it is important to weigh both the benefits and the costs of having a group of people working for you distantly.

What are the Pros?

According to Toggl, there are two key pros that come with remote teams, and they can be split up into two forms. I will outline my two key pros below.

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1. Better Work-Life Balance

Emergencies and appointments always come up whether they be medical, personal, or family related. Like many people with full-time positions, it is hard to even find the time to grocery shop, complete a simple maintenance job around the home, or catch up with friends. With a remote team, however, there is more time to even the scale.

Working from home or anywhere remotely for that matter, fosters a work environment driven by results alone. With your team, you can be clear about what you expect, including the time in which you expect your projects to be done, but the time your employees spend working on their assignments versus keeping up their lifestyles is completely up to them. Each person is different, and this allows your employees to decide how to integrate work and life for themselves. Ultimately, this balance will lead to happier staff and lower employee turnover.

2. No Time Wasted Commuting

The frustrations of commuting to and from work are common. Instead of wasting anywhere from two to four hours every day traveling to and from work, working from home allows the work day to be started immediately. Avoiding the problems that accompany driving can decrease dissatisfaction with employees and increase productivity.

What are the Cons?

It is not to say that working remotely is in any way negative, but there are perks of working in an office environment compared to working for a team remotely.

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1. Creating a Company Culture is Challenging

It is arguable that the best way to build a community within a company is through personal friendships between staff. Without space where employees can communicate and convene every day, building a company culture is almost impossible. One tool to combat this, suggested by Elaine Rau of Lady Boss Blogger, is Zoom. She uses this application to talk with her interns all at once. Though these calls are mainly for instructional reasons, Elaine never fails to connect to her interns by asking how their weekends were—a simple step to take towards curating a successful, positive community within your remote team.

2. Communicating is Difficult Too

With remote teams, the main form of communication between staff is email. Personally, I rely on people’s tone of voice and body language in order to understand how they are trying to portray their messages. Without face to face communication, interpreting messages can be difficult. On top of this, with an office, meetings and issues can be resolved swiftly compared to remote communication.

Elaine Rau of Lady Boss Blogger has yet another tool to help with this issue: Calendly. Elaine uses this application as a way for interns to schedule 15-minute calls with her every week for check-ins and so the interns may clarify any questions they may have had for the past week or for the week ahead. Scheduling these calls consistently with her interns allows Elaine to establish accountability as well as consistency with her remote team.

3. Distractions – Staying Productive

Often regarded as the most difficult part of working remotely is staying productive and avoiding distractions during the day. Yes, it is important to have a work life balance, and sometimes team members lifestyles might get in the way of work-related tasks but putting lifestyle before work during the majority of each working day is unacceptable.

One way I am sure to avoid distractions and stay productive is by creating an office space within my room. Having even a small area dedicated to getting work done is better than lying in bed to write. And let’s be honest, there is always a risk of falling asleep if you are still in bed in your pajamas. That is why I also make sure to dress like I am going to commute to an office. If I feel professional and productive, even through my clothes, I know I am going to be.

Even by taking these precautions, there is still a potential for distractions through Netflix, your phone, social media, etc. Another way I am personally able to combat this is by installing a program called Stay Focused onto my internet browser. This program allows me to block sites, such as Instagram, for certain time periods during any scheduled day of the week. And the best part about this application is that you can program it to prevent you from changing set times away from distractions in case you might fall into temptation.

If that option is still not appealing to you, plugging in headphones without playing music is effective in terms of focus. You feel as though you are blocked from outside distractions, and you do not have conflicting information entering your thoughts through music.

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Who Should Be on Your Remote Team?

Now that we have compared the perks and disadvantages, you must decide who you should hire to be on your team. For bloggers first starting out, it is ideal that your team be comprised of students looking for internships during their time in university.

Why? Because you can ensure that they will do their best, though you may be unable to pay them. College students consistently have access to the newest information in any field of study, so finding an intern to fit your needs should be no problem.

Many students need an internship to graduate, therefore, this allows you to offer them credit for graduation instead of pay. Ultimately, this allows you to open up your expenses and plug them straight back into building your blog and elevating it to its highest potential.

If you are able to hire a remote team full-time on a salary, then you have access to one of the largest job pools out there—the internet. Also, with the money you saved from not renting an office, you are able to create incentives with your team in the form of bonuses.

How to Manage Your New Remote Team:

So, you have weighed your options, and put together your remote team. How, then, do you manage them?

1. Trust

Though this might seem cliché or obvious, trusting a remote team is vital in its success. One way to establish a trusting relationship with your team is to engage with them regularly. Rather than giving them tasks and waiting for them to be finished, call your staff and guide them. This way, your team feels comfortable with your work, and you know that it will be up to the standard which you want and expect.

2. Transparency

Now that we understand the importance of communication, it should be understood that transparency is also key when managing a team at a distance. A leader should not just lead by force, but by example. Though it may seem scary, giving your team the opportunity to give feedback upon and help grow all parts of your business will also establish trust.

3. Timeliness

Being timely and organized when it comes to contacting your team is essential. Have a virtual meeting or phone call set up at the same time each week, so your team has a consistent schedule and feels more connected with you.

Be sure, however, when you make these calls that you are organized with what you want to say. Not only this but also be organized with your entire blog. To stay accountable with the organization of your blog, The Startup suggests organizing all your data, categorizing it, and the sharing it with all members of your team. Organization creates a proper structure for your business and makes it easier to manage your team.

4. Time Zones (Differences in Culture)

Because your team is working remotely, that means either you or your team could be traveling around the world at any given moment. One way to make sure your team is effectively managed is by respecting cultural differences. Once you, as the boss, understand and appreciate other employees’ cultural differences, you can then connect with them more.

5. Team Building

Video calls are one effective way of connecting your team together and establishing the beginnings of company culture. Another way to do so, however, is by having your team members collaborate on their tasks.

According to Sandeep Kashyap of Proof Hub, a lack of coordination leads to poorly organized projects from the beginning. That is why teamwork and collaboration are so important. These two characteristics of team building can be wonderful things when it comes to achievement and a sense of unity between your remote team.

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6. Tools

Without the applications and tools provided to the public for free on the internet, many blogs would not exist today. It is important to research and utilize what is suggested by other bloggers and online business to ensure that the management of your remote team runs smoothly. Besides, how else are you going to be absolutely sure that your team is on the right path and staying productive?

Another tool that is useful in the running of a blog is your network. Other professionals that are familiar with your business or with managing remote teams are important. Asking your network how they manage their remote teams allows for a different perspective and new ideas on how to engage your staff and build a lasting community.

What Applications Should You Use for Managing Remote Teams?

Elaine Rau suggests using an app called Strides. This app acts as a goal and habit tracker. It can not only help you, but also your interns to learn more productive habits. This app is especially useful if you first set clear expectations of your employees.

According to the Forbes Coaches Council, this can be done by sharing examples of what is expected to be done or sharing a calendar for clear appointment dates and deadlines. Essentially, be intentional and connect your goals for your blog with their goals.

Another tool suggested by Lady Boss Blogger is Trello. Trello allows you or your team to create tasks and see the progress each individual on your team has made on a project. Elaine Rau calls it “a great way to stay organized as a team.”

So, What Now?

Managing a remote team definitely has its perks but choosing between having an office and running a team from a distance is completely up to you.

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The tips and tricks I have outlined in this article are well researched and thought out, so it is easier for you to make a decision as to whether or not having a remote staff is right for you and your blog.

Ultimately, it is a judgment call. Just make sure that your judgment is based on an even balance of fact and opinion. Even out the scale, and always weight your options. Pros and cons are never a bad idea!

Claire Erickson is currently a blogging intern at Claire has just returned from studying abroad at the London College of Fashion and will finish her senior year studying retail merchandising back at her home university – University of Minnesota (Twin Cities). She will graduate in the spring of 2020 and is looking forward to a having a future in buying, trend research, or planning. Besides Lady Boss Blogger, Claire’s favorite blog is Diet Prada!

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