How to Lead an Innovative Remote Team

Leading a team from an office is challenging, so much so that when it comes to hiring remote staff, many business leaders shy away, fearing it too hard to manage effectively without direct supervision. Meanwhile, dozens of fully remote companies reap the benefits of remote hiring, from access to top talent and cost savings to increased productivity and loyalty.

The truth is, many of those fears are unfounded. While leading a remote team does have its challenges, particularly regarding communication and company culture, businesses have much to gain when they hire remote workers. If you’re considering adding remote talent to your team, here is useful information to help you get started.

Finding and Hiring Remote Talent

Mainstream job boards aren’t well-suited for remote hirings since many lack the ability to screen for remote jobs. There are online job boards designed specifically for remote workers and this is where you’re most likely to find the talent you need.

If looking for a permanent remote employee, websites such as Remote.co and WeWorkRemotely are best. But if you’re hiring freelancers for time-limited projects, websites tailored to freelance jobs (like Upwork or PeoplePerHour, for example) are recommended. Hiring a freelancer is an ideal solution for temporary roles in web development and graphic design or independent contractor positions like virtual assistants and bookkeepers.

Leaders should keep in mind that great on-site employees don’t necessarily make great remote employees. Successful remote employees are organized, accountable and responsive, and ideally already have experience working remotely. If hiring someone without a history of remote jobs or transitioning an existing employee to a home office, use Justworks’s interview strategies to assess their suitability for remote work.

Inspiring Innovation in a Remote Setting

Many workers are happier and more productive at home, but some experts think working from home may actually stifle creativity. As Harvard Business Review theorizes, working from home lacks the spontaneous interaction and collaboration that spurs innovation in the office. Others argue that as long as leadership is creative and strategic in their approach, a remote work environment can be just as innovative—if not more—than a centralized staff.

For leaders of remote teams, the key is in the balance between setting clear expectations and giving remote workers the freedom to be creative. Set goals and deadlines for your team members without constraining how they get there. And instead of mandating work hours, schedule regular meeting times when the team can virtually connect face-to-face and use a scheduling app so team members stay up-to-date on each other’s calendars. Scheduling tools like Square are particularly valuable in an appointment-based business as it allows managers to seamlessly accept bookings, assign them to team members and notify staff of schedule changes.

The Right Tools for Remote Teams

Scheduling apps are one of the many tools that have been developed to meet the needs of remote teams. Without them, managing virtual teams can be far too labor-intensive to be worthwhile. With them, however, managing remote workers can often be more efficient than an in-office team. The following examples are a few additional tools you can use to boost your remote team’s efforts:

- Document sharing solutions like Google Drive and Dropbox

- Password managers and VPNs to keep business data safe

- Real-time communication tools such as Slack (for chat) and Zoom, Skype or Google Hangouts (for video conferencing)

- Virtual task lists and project management platforms such as Trello, Asana, Basecamp or Monday

- A way to integrate all of your remote team management apps, like Zapier or Integromat

As you gain experience managing a remote workforce, you’ll fine-tune your remote team leadership style. I hope these tips and tools give you a great head start on the path toward a productive and innovate remote team.

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Tina Martin stays busy as a life coach and works hard to help herself and her clients achieve a healthy work-life balance. Learn more about her through her website.

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