For this installment of “Meet Apsos” we moved mountains, crossed oceans and traveled halfway around the globe to gain exclusive access to the man himself: Apsos Media’s founder and CEO, Matthew Apsokardu. Okay okay, so the whole mountains and oceans thing is...
The way people work is changing. The last 15 years saw massive advances in telecommunication technologies and a growing number of locations that offer fast and reliable internet. It has never been easier, or more advantageous, than today to run a company remotely, and this isn’t showing any signs of change.
The next 15 years will see even more advances in telecommunication with continued growth in augmented and virtual reality, and an ever increasing number of locations that support both blisteringly fast and reliable internet. The remote work revolution has already begun and many companies are starting to hire remote workers. The big question however is if they can adapt to running a remote team as opposed to one based out of an office.
Here at Apsos we have been running a remote team from the very beginning and have learned a thing or two about how to do it properly. Below you will find a few of our most important lessons regarding remote work and how to do it properly.
Hire The Right People
This may seem like a given but when working remotely it’s even more important. One of the beauties of remote work is that you will suddenly find not just your country’s talent at your fingertips, but the entire world’s talent. Building a remote team allows you to select the best workers in the world, not just your local area.
Make sure you interview your potential employees thoroughly and determine if they are go getters and doers. Working remotely has shown to produce happier, less stressed and more productive employees but in some people it can have the opposite effect.
Never hire without a trial period. We suggest putting new employees through a trial period for at least a month. During this time they will be compensated, but they should be aware that they are not yet part of the team, and that becoming an official employee will be based on their work output and how they interact with the rest of the team.
A general rule of thumb is to hire slow, and fire fast. Take your time to vet potential employees and make sure that they are the right person for the job. If at any point you find that you’re repeatedly having issues with them, fire them as quickly as possible. One bad employee can ruin a team of great workers.
Develop Standard Operating Procedures
Standard operating procedures, or SOPs for short, are an absolute must when running a remote team. Working in a regular office setting makes it easy for people to get up and walk over to a coworker’s desk and peak over their shoulder to see how to do something. Although screen sharing makes this possible in remote situations as well, it may not be possible if your workers are in different parts of the world and don’t have the same work time.
You should do your best to develop an SOP for every part of your business. Not only does this create a powerful resource for your employees to lean on when they can’t figure out how to do something, but it also makes it much easier to onboard new employees or replace bad ones.
I have seen many great remote companies fall apart because they did not invest in this area. The last thing you want is to have to dispose of a bad employee only to realize that you don’t know any of their processes for how they did their job.
Over-Communication Is The Best Communication
The worst case scenario for a remote team is one in which no one knows what’s going on. When you are in a regular office environment you get to see who comes into the office, which client is meeting with what employee, and just a peak around your desk will tell you who is sick and perhaps needs some help on a project. Working remotely does not provide that same environment, but it can be simulated through proper communication.
A key tool for many remote teams is Slack. Slack allows you to have company wide conversations, specific team communication, or direct person to person messaging without ever having to forward an email. Slack is also a perfect messaging system for sharing files which makes it far superior than just regular messaging apps.
Require employees to open up Slack and log in as being online in the app when they are working. This makes it super easy for other people to see who is available and who isn’t. Make sure to share what is going on on a company and team level at least weekly so that everyone knows what’s up.
Scheduling at least one video call using something like Zoom, Google Hangouts, or Skype every other week is extremely important when running a remote team. This call can be used to make sure that everyone is on the same page and understand the current goals of the company. More importantly it helps to put “a face to the name” and encourages the building of meaningful relationships. Actually hearing human laughter instead of just seeing a typed out “haha” helps to create a strong team environment.
Get Religious About Project Management
The last thing you want your remote team to be is disorganized. Being disorganized can lead to team members not being aware of what is expected of them and can result in missed deadlines and failed projects. We suggest becoming absolutely religious about running your entire business through a project management system like Trello.
Trello allows you to create a visual “pathway” for every project and to easily assign people to specific tasks. This brings a level of transparency that is key when running a remote team.
Remote teams can be scattered all over the world and enable you to run a company that literally works around the clock. This is wonderful because it allows people to choose their location, but it can also create issues for deadlines. For example, if you are cutting it close on a project and realize that you need another graphic, you may not be able to get that in time if your team’s designer is located on the other side of the world and currently asleep.
This is why it’s super important to create a “fake” deadline for every project that is at least a few days before the real deadline. This gives you some time to wrap things up if you realize that an additional image is needed to pull a web page together or discover a bug on a newly created app.
Compensate Your Employees Well
I already touched on how remote work can allow you to hire the best people in the world, but just hiring them doesn’t get the job done. You need to make sure that they feel appreciated and well compensated. The last thing you want is for one of your employees to feel like their work or skills are not being fully appreciated because it will be incredibly easy for them to find a new company to work for that is willing to compensate them what they feel like they are worth.
Also, don’t shy away from compensating your employees in non financial ways. Many companies are now investing heavily in creating office environments that make employees comfortable and not a place that they want to run away from the moment the clock strikes 5pm. You can do similar things in a remote company by scheduling annual retreats for your entire team that are both a ton of fun, and a great bonding opportunity for your team. You can also offer mentorship to younger or less experienced employees. This is a great way to add huge amounts of value to a working relationships without necessarily putting more money on the table.
I hope that you have found this article helpful in understanding some of the key things that are needed in order to run a remote team. Cheers!