The world becomes increasingly digitized: more companies are going remote because it’s cost-effective, productive, convenient, and, finally, that’s what their employees want. While finding freelancers doesn’t raise any more questions — the freelance talent pool is incessantly growing globally — managing remote employees can be a challenging task that’s worth addressing. Below, we’ll look at actionable and practical strategies that you can implement in order to organize and manage your remote workforce.
Onboarding is one of the most undervalued hiring practices; however, as a senior manager or business owner, you should not overlook the importance of onboarding, which is, in its essence, the process of acquiring, accommodating, and assimilating new employees.
It’s important to have clear and explicit hiring practices in place tailored to the specific business you’re operating or the workforce you’re managing. Thus, onboarding technical employees will inherently differ from onboarding marketing or accounting workforce. Onboarding freelancers is even more challenging: the lack of face to face communication can affect the time and quality of the onboarding process — hence, should never be taken lightly but carefully planned.
We, at Soshace, a hiring platform for freelance web developers, have come up with our own onboarding process, which you can use a stepping stone in accommodating your remote workforce:
- We use recruitment software to guide people through the paperwork and the process of the company’s onboarding (some recruitment software already comes with a customizable process of onboarding which makes the whole procedure a lot easier and more transparent);
- We developed a set of guidebooks for departments, so it’s easier for new employees to familiarize themselves with the work they would be doing;
- Each employee is assigned to their mentor, who’s always ready to address any issues or concerns;
- Each employee must complete a set of basic IT lessons to familiarize themselves with the business and fundamentals of web development;
- Each employee must take an exam after the onboarding is finished.
Post-onboarding includes watching over employees closely to make sure they are satisfied with the work they perform, progress smoothly, and apply their knowledge effectively.
A proper organizational structure can boost any business. That’s why it’s important to expand a set of procedures and project management documentation beside onboarding, set explicit rules, boundaries, and share them openly with anyone on the team.
We’ll address the tools and instruments you can use for organizing your team in a later section; here, however, let’s briefly outline what you need to agree on with your team:
- Code of conduct
- A clear set of responsibilities and expectations for each role
- A set of reports with deadlines and explicit KPIs
- Access to company’s docs with all the data organized, categorized, and made comprehensive for all team members
- Regular meetings; one-one-one meetings, monthly company meetings
These are a few examples of reports and KPIs we’ve set for freelance writers at Soshace. First of all, copywriters come up with a weekly content plan, they later fill out in an Excel spreadsheet with the names of the articles, the links to documents with writing pieces in the cloud, the start and release dates, and the links to the published articles. For KPIs, we use the number of views for each written article per a certain threshold, the number of published pieces on both corporate and external websites.
Due to the increasing popularity of remote work, the number of tools for distributed teams has grown exponentially over just a couple of years. One of the most important tools, only a few remote teams can do without, is time tracking software. Tracking employees’ time is an efficient way to keep your employees on track, review their performance, and increase team productivity. You’ll know exactly what your employees have been doing during their working hours as most of the software available on the market take screenshots intermittently throughout the day. It’s important to introduce your employees to the benefits and necessities of time tracking software, make sure you’ll mention that software will help them manage their time better, avoid distractions, and get paid for extra hours in case you compensate those. At Soshace, we use Hubstaff, and so far, for the past three years, we’ve been more than happy with it.
Choosing a cloud storage solution is also important. Among those currently available on the market, we can surely recommend OneDrive, Google Drive (which we personally use), Dropbox and Dropbox Business.
For business communication, you can use Slack, Twist, Zoom, Hangouts, Whereby, and similar resources. We personally just use Skype, although, it’s certainly not a panacea, and probably the least progressive app among those above mentioned, but it works for us at this point, and that’s what truly matters.
Company culture and activities
Last but not least, you should strive at building a strong company culture: clearly communicate the company’s vision and goals, lead by example — become a better manager, get to know each other, organize extracurricular activities, and finally, be creative about your work.
At Soshace, we have monthly online book club meetings, virtual coffee calls, and team-building opportunities for those who reside in the same town. You can come up with your own ideas to make the online meetings and time spent together valuable to each member of your team.
Managing remote teams comes with a set of challenges, however, all of it is manageable — educate and train your new staff, introduce them to a set of fair policies and procedures, use the available tooling that can make your job easier, and lead by example, that is — be creative, loyal and hardworking.