Working as a Remote Team
Posted on 16.08.2017
Working remotely has become increasing popular with employees, as well as business owners in recent years. There are, of course, pros and cons to having a remote team working together. Continuing to evolve in methods and practices, as well as close tracking of processes has proven to be a big key in the success of Yardstick Services growing from a two-man team to a growing team of 12-plus individuals across the country.
According to our Yardstick team, the number one enticement of working remotely is getting to work in a comfortable space. Having a controlled environment where you can adjust the temperature, lighting, sounds, etc., to meet your preferences increases productivity. The opportunity to set our own hours and schedules, working around family schedules and situations is a big plus, as we have a range of team members from single to married with multiple children and work-at-home parents.
Not only do we eliminate passing around bugs and germs like that in an office during cold and flu season, but working remotely allows us to provide healthier options for the earth as well. Decreasing our carbon footprint by not driving, as well as decreasing our stress levels by avoiding the “carmageddon” commute through traffic in Metro Vancouver.
Finding a Work-Life Balance
The work-life balance of working from home can be both a huge benefit, but also a curse. The benefits of getting to work when you want, flexibility to set appointments during regular business hours, and being able to shut your computer off and unplug are enticing factors. The struggle comes in the fact that you never “leave the office,” so having proper boundaries set with coworkers, managers, and especially yourself is key. It’s not just about refraining from checking one last email, but actually unplug so you are able to enjoy some family or personal time, which is essential.
While downtime between tasks and distractions of “the cube farm” are not a consideration for working remotely, the opposite issue can arise. Missing that face-to-face interaction could lead to break downs in tasks, communications, or even relationships. Ensuring that you have proper lines of communication and strong tools to support the work efforts help to keep projects and tasks moving forward. We have found that having regular team check-in meetings over Slack or similar programs has helped us to all feel like we are in touch, avoiding isolation, and keeps us in the loop with what is happening with the company overall. From my personal experience, I feel that I even know more about Yardstick’s overall company matters than some companies, which I have worked for previously. We are a very open and honest team that share monthly about changes, challenges, and general comments as a cohesive group.
The Right Team
Finding the right people for the job on a team can also pose some challenges. Not only are you looking for people who can do the job at hand, but you want to quickly determine if they are self-motivated, trustworthy, reliable, and responsible. To allow us the opportunity to test these factors, all job applicants go through a multi-step interview process with a few team members. Additionally, they’re given a few test tasks to see how they perform. There is also a larger pool of candidates for us to pull from when looking at applicants, as we are not limited to those only able to travel to our location, but those willing to telecommute from anywhere in the country or even the world. This benefits employees, too, where the opportunity for workers is increased by not being geographically limited to job locations.
There are companies much larger than ours that have a staff of remote workers, such as WordPress or Telus, and it takes a unique mix of people and factors to make both working on and managing a remote team successful. We will be sharing tips from our management team focused more on what it looks like to manage a remote team in the coming weeks, so stay tuned.
“Coming together is a beginning; keeping together is progress; working together is success.” – Henry Ford