Managing a remote workforce, not remotely stressful
I have been managing a remote workforce since before agile working was even popular, because I have always been a believer that it’s the people, not the location, that makes companies successful.
If you have the right tools in place, managing an agile remote workforce can be extremely beneficial for a business. For us it has reduced our outgoing costs, as we have saved on renting out expensive office space; it has helped us to be more environmentally friendly; and has truly meant that we can hire the best people – wherever they’re based.
My team are based all over the world. From the South Coast of England, to the Scottish Highlands and the USA, if they fit the team culture, are talented, and believe in the Cloudbooking brand, then we will hire them.
This is why, for me, managing a remote workforce is a pleasure and not a headache.
The colleagues that I employ are self-motivated, reliable, hardworking people, who most importantly believe in what we’re building. In return I try to empower them, keep challenging them, and growing their skills.
It’s my job to build a supportive environment where they can thrive. Our culture is that of transparency, trust, and no hierarchy. Everyone is an important part of the puzzle.
I thought I’d share some of my tips on how to manage, and get the best out of a remote team, because let’s face it, agile is the way forward.
Standardising our processes using a collaborative tool is paramount to keeping everyone in sync. It’s important that the team works to set workflow guidelines, so that everyone is on the same page.
We use Microsoft Teams to share documents, organise documents in folders, chat to one another, and also even to make video calls. There are other great tools out there too, like WebEx and Slack, but Microsoft Teams really works well for us.
We don’t second guess one another. If we need to clarify something, we always get talking. There’s nothing worse than someone on the team not agreeing with a decision but keeping quiet. All of my team regularly speak up, because they are empowered to. I am also always open and transparent about my ideas for the company, and invite my team to suggest ideas too – we’re all in this together. This breeds productivity, because everyone feels part of what we’re building – it’s our baby.
We also have a Facebook chat group for all of our ‘random’ conversation. It’s important to have a bit of fun at the end of a busy and sometimes stressful work day, so we use our Facebook chat to unwind and share funny Giphs, pictures and jokes.
I like to think that all of my team are also friends outside of work. I know they always say ‘never mix work with pleasure’, but that’s not my belief. We all support one another’s endeavours, and enjoy seeing what our colleagues get up to outside of work. For example, the whole team attended one of our colleagues’ wedding a couple of years ago.
We also believe in community amongst our clients, and invite them to be a part of what we’re building.
At the other end of the phone
As a CEO, I make sure that I am always accessible to my employees. I have a great relationship with each and every one of my team members. As a CEO to facilitate empathy, trust, and camaraderie amongst the team, and keep people connected. I check in with each and every one of my employees as often as I can, to make sure they’re happy, satisfied with their role, and have a health work-life balance. If I can, I also visit them for a face-to-face catch up, so they can share their ideas and, if they have any, grievances.
As a team, we’re always here for our customers. It is important to me that all of our clients feel like they’re our number one priority.
When hiring, I don’t even look at a person’s CV. You may think that sounds crazy, but I believe that any of us can look great on paper. My consideration when hiring is – can they do a great job for us, but also, will they fit in with the rest of my team. I’d say the latter is actually even more important. That’s because at Cloudbooking we’re one big family. One person can really change the dynamic of that, which is the last thing I’d want. Therefore, the way that someone conducts themselves and their personality, is just as important as how good they are at their job, if not more.
I try to empower my team to manage their own workload, but I set the boundaries by giving them visions, objectives, and actions. I then trust them to deliver those. So far, no one has let me down! I feel that when you put your trust in the right people, and appreciate them for what they do, it makes them work even harder for you, as they want to impress you.
Power to overachieve
I also regularly give team members the opportunity to prove themselves. If I see that they have a skill in an area that’s beyond their current role, I try to give them the space and support to hone that skill and utilise it.
As you can see, with the right tools, attitude, and most importantly people, a remote workforce can be a real benefit to any company.
To find out more about how Cloudbooking can help you to move to a more agile way of working, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.