Companies are definitely evolving towards a new work paradigm, and those that don’t embrace the many benefits of remote working will objectively risk losing competitive advantages.
The question is not, then, whether remote working is worth the effort or not, but how a company can manage it assertively to get the best results.
Challenges faced by leaders of remote working teams
You need a change of mindset to adopt remote working. Some of the biggest challenges are:
• Problems in management and coordination of work
• Difficulties in interpersonal communication
• Feelings of solitude and isolation
At Workana, some concerns relate to the lack of professionals skilled at training leaders for remote teams, and finding the right talent.
10 strategies to lead freelance teams
1. Make the most of technology
Online apps such as Asana, Google Suite, Slack, Skype, Zoom, Toggl, Office online, Dropbox, Trello, Calendly, etc have everything you need and more to coordinate the work of several remote professionals working from different countries, at different schedules and on different activities.
Many of those apps are free and the rest, pretty affordable.
The editorial team at Workana, for instance, is formed almost entirely by freelancers (writers, editors, translators, etc.) and with the support of Asana and Google Drive, these tools are used to ensure deliveries in due time, along with smooth communication.
However, each leader has to identify and pick the tools that can adapt better to the requirements of the team.
2. Training and onboarding
A good training and onboarding process is the key to help new collaborators, either remote or on-site, join their activities and speed up the learning curve.
Don’t try to do random induction processes “on the go”; take your time to create a welcoming protocol for the project, stating clearly what you expect from the freelancer, what the available work tools are and how to use them, and what the corporate culture and values are, among other things.
3. Goal-driven work
The secret to success is splitting tasks into large and small, outsource and setting a deadline for each.
This is also usually called to work driven by goals and represents the best way of getting organised and scheduling the collaborative work of several people into a calendar.
Two essential partners of goal-driven work are: the work schedule (that can be managed from apps like Asana or Calendly, or even from an Excel sheet on Google drive) and the criteria of SMART Objectives (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic and Timebound).
4. Stating timetables and ways of communication
Nobody should answer an email with “urgent” changes at 4am, or have their yoga class interrupted to forward a file to an additional email.
Working in a team with members from different time zones and activities, the key to good communication is setting strategic channels and response times from the very start, and making sure everybody will stick to them.
For instance, state that all messages will be sent through the project chat and not through email, and that each team member has up to 12 hours to answer them.
5. Promoting bonding activities
Many freelancers report feelings of solitude and isolation. Beyond the impact this might have on the private life of workers, motivation and commitment might be at risk if there’s no personal connection with the rest of the team.
So promote and plan regular bonding and team building activities – weekly videoconferences, face-to-face meetings, group dynamics, etc.
For example, a good introduction dynamic is asking your collaborators to share a picture or video of their work area and explain in detail which tools they will use and which elements will build up the work space with their own personality and style.
There are many elements that motivate your work: your pay, loving what you do, praise for a job well done.
As leader of a remote team, you have direct influence on the acknowledgement given to your collaborators and on the way you communicate the final goal of your project.
Don’t just ask for “innovative” copy for a landing page but convey the enthusiasm to achieve persuasive original writing leading to a sales increase, and also back-feeding freelancers with the positive results of their work.
Speaking of giving feedback, you can’t avoid mentioning that constant feedback, either positive or negative, is essential to enhance the results of a remote team.
8. Welcoming the culture of error
The culture of error can be summarised like this: the error should stop being taken as something “negative” — instead, it should have its place as a unique opportunity to keep constant optimisation and evolution in processes.
Leaving “room” for smart errors means to constantly search for new, creative ways of doing things, because out of every nine things that fail, one will bring better results.
9. Fostering synergy
Some companies resorting to freelancing for the first time face difficulties when trying to reconcile with the flow of onsite work, as they insist that just freelancers should adapt to the needs of the other employees and they don’t promote the counterpart: raise awareness and inform the payroll collaborators about the freelancing work style.
10. Using a reliable platform to find self-employed talent
Managing a solid, efficient remote working team starts from the search and selection of talent.
Using freelancing platforms that offer guarantees, good hiring options and a reliable rating and ranking system is the best way of starting up a project with freelancers.
Click here to find out more about Workana to start hiring or enlisting as a freelancer.