Ten years ago, the idea of remote teams would have been a joke to most business leaders.
But, with advancements in technology, the modern remote team can collaborate just as well, or even better than local teams. They have the potential to achieve more in less time, and they do it all from the comfort of their home, coffee shop, beach, or where ever else they have an internet connection.
And if you follow these six best practices, your remote team can crush their goals and prove you're not bound to running a company "the old fashioned way."
Maximizing Potential with Your Remote Marketing Team
Lean Labs has been 100% remote since 2008, and partially remote for four years prior that. And with over a decade of experience leading individuals from around the world, Kevin Barber, our Head of Growth, has picked up a few tricks and tactics along the way.
I had a virtual "sit-down" with Kevin (another perk of being remote) and discussed those tips in depth. And that is what I'm going to share with you.
1. Make the Right Hires In the First Place
The first step is reasonable enough. You need to hire the right team members.
In a typical company, you examine an applicant's skills, their qualifications, and how they present themselves in the interview.
But the hiring process is different with a remote team. There's rarely a physical meet and greet. Interviews are conducted over webcams and telephonically at mutually beneficial times. And far more important than in other business structures is the hire's belief in your core values and ability to fit in your company culture.
Remote hires are on their own. They require discipline and the ability to motivate themselves because they don't have someone standing over them, "supervising" their every move.
If a team member is invested in your company's mission, if they value the same beliefs as everyone, then they're more likely to provide you with a higher quality of work.
An advantage of remote teams is the ability to hire from anywhere in the world. There's no requirement to uproot a family, move across the country, and then start onboarding. Instead, a hire could potentially begin the same day, so long as they have internet access.
This gives you an immensely larger talent pool to pull from. You're also not forced to compete with the titans of your city. You can pull exceptional talent from small towns, suburbs, and anywhere people dream of not having to commute.
Building a remote team means you don't need to relocate your business to hire great people and applicants don't have to relocate to get hired. It also means you don't need to lose people who actually do want to move.
As Lean Labs' most recent hire, I'm living proof of this concept. After seven years in the Army, it was time to settle my family in one location. The idea of living anywhere we wanted based on the school system or work opportunities for my wife was one of the driving factors in my decision to apply.
All around the world, talented people are hungry for a chance at opportunity. Without the remote option, you're limiting your choices to what's available in front of you.
By highlighting the benefits of remote work when hiring, you can draw in those highly skilled individuals who are enticed by the possibility of working from home.
2. Implement Creative Ways to Build Community
Developing a rock steady team requires building relationships, and that's hard to do over the internet.
In Kevin's exact words, "If you're a hugger, you'll hate remote teams."
Don't worry, he added an explanation. Remote doesn't mean you can't build deep, meaningful, long-lasting relationships with your team and clients. It just means you're not doing it the old fashioned way.
Real relationships are built one-on-one, not through open floor plans or at a conference room table.
At Lean Labs, we conduct weekly Alignments to keep everyone on the same page. The first order of business at our Monday meetings is sharing exciting stories from the weekend.
It's not the same as personal interactions, but it builds cohesion among the team. It's how I know Cris plays enough tennis that Wimbledon champs are jealous. Or how I know Melissa gets to dress as a spear-wielding peanut in an upcoming play. Yeah, you read that last bit right.
It may seem insignificant, but without a water cooler to gossip at, or sharing jokes prior to the boss arriving at the meeting, it's what builds the foundation of the team.
When the team hits goals for the month, Lean Labs conducts Team Victory Lunches, opening a video conference where everyone can chat while enjoying food on the company's dime.
It's these little things that go a long way into building a team that wants to work with each other.
3. Setup an Accountability System
A major concern of those interested in taking the leap to a remote team is how they manage performance.
It's not easy, but you need an objective way to evaluate your team's effort. At Lean Labs, this includes our point system. Though team members are paid hourly, each task is assigned a point value that generally corresponds to how long it should take.
For instance, writing one batch of blog posts is allotted eight points for eight hours of work. When the team member completes the tasks, their time is divided against their point goal to create an efficiency rate.
So, if it takes me eight hours to write those posts, I'm at 100% efficiency. If it takes 12 hours, I'm at 75%, and so on.
Tracking performance in this manner gives our department heads a more accurate idea of how individuals and the team are doing. It also provides the team members with a clear picture of their expectations.
Compared to "seeing them working" in an office, this approach will provide far more significant results, even for a non-remote workforce.
4. Provide Incentives for Great Performance and Growth
Aside from your team being able to work from anywhere they choose, adding incentives is a great way to keep their motivation high and encourage greater performance.
With the efficiency score we talked about earlier, team members can qualify for a quarterly bonus. As long as the minimum point score for that individual is met, they're able to earn bonuses for professional development completed during that period. We even offer an MVP bonus for the individual with the highest performance above their efficiency goal.
This is where remote teams have a noticeable advantage over typical companies. While non-remote teams are commuting up to five, even ten hours a week, Lean Labs' team is leveling up, spending that time developing ourselves with professional development. Whether it's books, courses, or certifications, our team gets to improve their skills and make money in the process.
Finally, Lean Labs encourages success through Greatness Points. Every team member can offer one point a week to anyone else they feel deserves acknowledgment for doing something awesome. This can be anything that added value to the team, such as "hustling," assisting with a client, or taking the initiative on a project.
With Greatness Points, not only do the top three team members earn a bonus, but everyone who receives a point gets to feel the rewards of being acknowledged in front of their peers. While it may not seem significant, knowing that you're appreciated by the people you work with is an excellent motivator.
5. Engineer In-Person Gatherings
Even if you're able to build that team spirit remotely, there's something to be said about meeting face-to-face. And, if you encourage professional development the way Lean Labs does, there are plenty of opportunities if you look.
In-person meetups can be beneficial to your team. It humanizes the group, showing each member is more than just a mass of pixels behind a digital wall.
Regular events are great, but if your team can meet at a conference, we've found the environment gives us direction and more value. The team builds camaraderie while improving together, and that's a powerful combination.
If you can find an event within your industry, we highly recommend enjoying it as a team. It lets you grow together, and that can strengthen a team incredibly.
6. Don't Criticize or Disdain Flexible Scheduling
Like we talked about in the first tip, remote teams give a lot of flexibility. It's critical that you maintain flexibility as a priority in your company and never use it as a threat when becoming impatient.
The rubric for success should always be performance. It may take some getting used to since everyone works their own schedule, but if your team gets the job done to standard and on time, then they're doing what matters.
Here's another quote from Kevin, but this one deserves a more pronounced presentation:
At Lean Labs, we don't live to work...we work to live...
With the right people, the remote team lifestyle releases the trifecta of positive outcomes:
- It grants more creative freedom.
- It enables more productive execution.
- It offers an enjoyable lifestyle.
If you can embrace these offerings while managing a remote team, you're dramatically increasing the potential for a team that's dedicated, motivated, and capable of producing outstanding work.
Building a Team That Over Delivers
A remote team offers immense potential, and by following these tips, you can see even greater results. Still, there's a lot more to creating a marketing team that blows you away.
That's why we created our guide, How To Build The Ideal Marketing Team. Aside from having the clearest title ever, this free eBook shares over a decade of experience in hiring fantastic talent that drives incredible results for our clients.