The remote work trend is growing by the day. In a recent survey from Buffer, 99% of respondents said they want to work remotely at some point in their careers, and 95% would recommend it to others. What’s more, 91% of businesses reported that they intend to support it, an unprecedented vote of confidence for the model.
It makes sense: Remote work offers an opportunity for savvy businesses to scale while minimizing office overhead and enhancing their appeal among new talent.
However, it’s a challenge to stay on top of your company culture, employee engagement, and group productivity when many of your team members aren’t physically present. Igloo found that 70% of remote workers feel left out of the flow and growth of the business, underscoring the importance of offering employees the right tools and the right policies to manage remote working at scale.
Remote workers can quickly scale your business, but you have to put policies and tools in place to maximize your ROI.
Here are four techniques to help scale your business with remote workers.
1. Set Expectations
According to Gallup, only 50% of employees clearly know what’s expected of them at work, and that’s including people who work in the office every day. The challenge only gets bigger when you’re managing telecommuters.
“Defining responsibility of who does what on a remote team is incredibly important,” Dribbble Director of Sales Tiffany Heimpel told FYI. “You don’t have the organic nature that comes from working in an office alongside people where you can see what they’re doing and adapt accordingly. As such, regular check ins, clearly defined objectives and trust is imperative.”
Many leaders who adopt a work-from-anywhere approach forget to set clear policies and requirements before they start. As a result, employees aren’t sure about their responsibilities, work hours, or project deadlines. It’s even more significant for businesses that are scaling; these companies are adding new employees who aren’t as familiar with precedents set at the company.
2. Optimize Everyone’s Access Permissions
When you set user permissions smartly, you can give remote employees direct access to all the materials they need to work on without worrying that they’ll get in each other’s way or accidentally delete someone else’s work. If you use a production platform that supports custom user permissions, you’ll be better able to maximize employee productivity. You can remove the bottlenecks that arise when only one person has the authority to make changes to a website, for example.
Minimizing project turnaround is an especially critical growth lever in the context of service companies. Web design agencies, for instance, need the ability to collaborate efficiently when dealing with remote clients, account managers, developers, and creatives. Brian Lewis, the founder and CEO of Denver-based agency WebAct, says that granular control of user permissions is one of the reasons he finds Duda’s design platform to be a game changer.
“Some of our customers are tech-savvy enough to make minor site changes on their own, and others would just break everything,” he says. “The ability to easily turn on and off access for individual clients has saved us from hours of site maintenance work and a lot of headaches.” After switching platforms, Lewis says his team’s more efficient workflows have shortened project turnaround times from 14 days to seven.
3. Maintain a Secure Single Source of Truth
Your employees need a secure way to access the resources necessary to do their jobs, whether that means designs in progress, raw data, sensitive business reports, or half-completed proposals.
The Igloo study found that 25% of employees use non-secure mediums to share sensitive materials. Worse, 43% don’t share documents at all, simply because they can’t find them easily enough. It’s crucial to use secure cloud-based project management platforms and asset libraries that employees can enter securely, no matter where they’re based.
With an effective project management platform, your workers can share vital data and track progress on their collaborations. Tools like Basecamp and Asana, for example, stop employees from needlessly repeating tasks already completed by others — they can view interactions, edit shared resources, and keep easy tabs on overall progress.
4. Improve Communication
Teams need to be able to communicate quickly and easily, especially when working remotely. When your employees spend all or most of their time in separate locations, they don’t have the connection that comes from sharing an office. You need to provide fast, secure communication channels so they can get to know each other, as well as collaborate on projects.
Thankfully, businesses can consider a range of effective platforms that enable both team bonding and project collaboration. Slack, Skype for Business, and Facebook Workplace are all popular with companies scaling remote teams. These offer features like web conferencing, secure document sharing, and searchable message archives.
“We use Skype to handle communication with our virtual team,” said Patrick Clements, the CEO of SherpaDesk. “It’s been a fantastic tool to screen share, pop on a call or get some quick feedback on a question.”
Scaling your business using remote teams is within your grasp, thanks to new rules for the road enabled by new technology. Take the necessary steps to improve and ease communication with out-of-office workers. Enable all your employees to access and share the resources they need, and control user permissions to boost productivity. Set clear expectations and responsibilities, and you can more or less negate the obstacles to using remote workers to help your business grow.