Managing remote teams: The checklist for small businesses

Marta Fanega-Valencia

Over the past few years, remote work stopped being just an option; it's become a staple of how we do business. Especially for small businesses, it opens up a world of possibilities, from tapping into global talent pools to offering unprecedented flexibility to team members. But how do you make remote work, well, work for your small business? Here are some best practices to consider:

1. Establish clear working hours with flexibility

Set core working hours for when the team needs to be online and available for collaboration, while also accommodating flexible start and end times. This ensures everyone is on the same page and can collaborate effectively, while allowing team members to manage their work around personal commitments. This balance is key to maintaining productivity and morale.

Make sure boundaries are set within the team to maintain a balance with life outside of work. According to Buffer’s State of Remote Work Report 2023, 22% of remote workers see struggling to unplug outside of their working ours as their biggest challenge with the remote work format.

2. Create a rhythmic connection

Implement a structured rhythm for team interactions, such as starting the week with a Monday meeting to set tasks and wrapping it up with a Friday session to discuss achievements and challenges. This creates a cycle of planning, discipline, and accountability that's crucial for remote work success.

3. Ensure comfortable workspaces

Make sure every team member has a comfortable working space, whether it's a home office setup or a local co-working subscription. The right environment can significantly boost productivity and job satisfaction.

4. Visibility into work calendars

Adopt tools like Calendly or your workspace's native calendars so employees can check the availability of their colleagues. In addition, make sure that every member of your team, spread across various time zones, can easily check each other's local time. This makes scheduling meetings and planning tasks straightforward, enhancing team coordination.

5. Leverage no-code tools for custom task management reporting

The key to asynchronous work is having an effective way of managing tasks. There are many collaborative tools for seamless scheduling and task management out there, like Asana or Trello. They do the job for basic task alignment, scheduling and reports, yet for managing more customized processes you can explore no-code platforms to create your own task management or reporting workflows. For example, Triggre offers a free template for progress reporting to get started, streamlining the process without needing extensive tech skills.

6. Invest in team building

Don't underestimate the power of face-to-face interactions. Organize regular meet-ups, whether monthly in a co-working space or quarterly in more exciting locations. These gatherings are essential for fostering team spirit and connection.

7. Celebrate milestones with physical gifts

Make milestones and personal achievements more memorable by sending physical gifts, like a surprise package for someone's birthday. This personal touch can go a long way in making team members feel valued and appreciated.

There are companies that specialize in curated gift boxes that can be personalized for each team member, making them feel valued and appreciated (for example, Greetabl in the US).

8. Manage expectations clearly

Ensure everyone on your team is comfortable and aligned with the remote work format from the get-go, including during the hiring process. Clear communication about expectations can prevent misunderstandings and ensure a smooth team dynamic.

Establish rules of engagement (ROE) to foster efficient and respectful exchanges. Specify the preferred communication channels for different purposes, along with appropriate times for reaching out. For instance, sending an email instead of a WhatsApp message for communication outside of regular office hours.

By implementing these strategies, small businesses can not only adapt to the remote work model but truly thrive in it. The key lies in maintaining a balance between structure and flexibility, leveraging the right tools, and fostering a strong team culture. With these practices in place, the future of work looks bright and boundless for small businesses everywhere.

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