As vaccine rollouts continue, businesses can finally begin to plan for a future with a little more certainty. Remote’s Global Workforce Revolution Report, published last year, discovered that 66% of companies planned to increase their remote work options. Forty percent of US respondents estimated that more than a third of roles would be held overseas within five years.
It’s safe to say that many companies that did not offer remote options in the past will now do so indefinitely — and that many employees will not want to return to the office.
Not every company will go fully remote, however. Most will adopt a hybrid model, at least for a while, to test the waters and accommodate the different needs of different workers. Without a plan, though, both fully remote and hybrid businesses will struggle to provide the support their teams need.
As longtime experts in remote work, we have deep experience in what works and what doesn’t. Whether your team is fully remote or you just have a few remote workers, these tips can help you ensure your team feels supported while reaching their potential.
Get comfortable working across multiple time zones.
Not everyone wants to live in the same place forever. If your best engineers, marketers, salespeople, recruiters, and customer success agents want to move, will you really let distance get between you and your top people?
Time zone differences do not have to end an employment relationship. By learning to work asynchronously, you can keep your best people no matter where they want to live. Beyond making it easy to work across time zones, asynchronous practices can also help improve productivity within co-located teams. When workers can complete tasks and move on to the next without waiting for someone else to act, everything feels more streamlined.
The trick to doing async well is making sure the entire organization follows the same principles. That can be difficult at first for co-located teams, but when everyone gets used to documenting their work, creating video updates, and hosting remote-friendly meetings, everyone benefits.
Create accountability without micromanaging.
Many managers express concern about their ability to ensure workers will stay productive while working remotely. In his appearance on Remote Talks, however, Zapier CEO Wade Foster provided a different perspective:
“I think folks think that remote workers are gonna watch Netflix all day,” said Foster. “I think it’s the exact opposite. If you hire right, their motivation to do well is so high that they will risk burning themselves out to prove that they are working.”
Don’t let fear of the unknown lead you into micromanaging people who are genuinely working to do their best. Measure your team on their performance, not on whether they’re available on Slack. Assume the best of your team members and their intentions. Remember, almost no one goes into work hoping to do a poor job.
Establish a standardized compensation strategy.
How much do you pay remote workers in different places? Several companies have attempted to answer the question, and most have come up with different answers. The strategy that makes sense for your business depends on your goals and available resources.
Most companies with remote experience use a formula to calculate compensation. Start by setting the salary range for the role and adjust by experience, responsibilities, and cost of living in the location where the person works.
Some companies pay everyone the same amount and do not consider location. Those companies typically either have the funding to pay Bay Area salaries to every worker (guaranteeing a top group of applicants for every role) or a lower amount (losing opportunities to attract top talent in expensive cities).
Recognize the need for real human connections.
Remote work is not supposed to be isolating; it’s supposed to be empowering. Most people do not need to go to the office five days a week, but companies and individuals do better when team members can gather in real life sometimes.
Fully remote companies should try to have at least one annual all-hands retreat somewhere in the world. Doing so can be expensive, but it’s also a critical part of attracting top talent and making sure team members feel a sense of community. Zoom calls serve a purpose, but when it comes to camaraderie, they fall short.
Where to hold a retreat depends on the location of most of the workforce. If 80% of the people work in one office, it makes sense to keep the retreat nearby, if not completely local. If people are spread around the world, the calculations get harder. Generally, large companies are limited to resort-style areas that cater to such gatherings. Some companies opt to gather in large metropolitan areas instead.
The remote work model the pandemic introduced to the world is not the remote work model of the years before, nor is it the model of the future. Remote work is an empowering and effective tool to help companies of all sizes work with great people and achieve big goals. As travel restrictions relax and lockdowns end, the companies with forward-thinking remote work strategies will find themselves at a major advantage in recruiting, productivity, and work-life balance for their employees.
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Remote was founded in 2019 by Job van der Voort and Marcelo Lebre to simplify how companies employ global talent. Their entire team works remotely in countries around the world. They don’t have any offices because they believe that people do their best work when they are free to work where they choose.