Our 20 Team Members Span 5 Continents. Here's How We Get Things Done As A 100% Remote Company
When members of your team live several time zones away, your approach to project management must fundamentally change.
With remote work conditions becoming increasingly permanent in our culture, millions of workers are using their newfound location independence to travel to new places and embrace digital nomadism. Whether it be relocating to the next city over or traveling to the other side of the world, employees are freer than ever before in deciding where to work from — as long as they get the job done.
The freedom is exciting. But if you’re an employer, you might find your newly spread-out team difficult to manage. From trying to schedule meetings across huge time zone gaps to making reasonable day-to-day progress on projects, adjusting to a global workforce can be a learning curve for even the most effective manager.
My company Next Vacay enables seeing the world through discount flight opportunities, and our team walks the talk; several of us are digital nomads, and the company has been 100% remote since day one. To keep the ship sailing smoothly, we’ve developed some best practices over the years to ensure time zone discrepancies don’t make our team feel siloed or alone. Our current roster is 20 team members spanning nine countries and five continents.
If you’re navigating a similar setup with your staff, here are my recommendations on what to prioritize.
Lean into communication protocols
Many of us have migrated to tools like Slack, Asana, ClickUp and Microsoft teams to keep day-to-day communications running remotely. For some business owners, these communication platforms are a dream come true, and for others they’ve quickly evolved into your worst nightmare.
That’s because you’re not setting clear enough expectations and best practices on how team members should communicate. If your team is newly remote or hybrid, it’s critical that the status of all projects be updated and captured virtually. This might be a big behavior shift if you’ve been used to moving tasks forward through meetings or in-person check-ins.
We all have different personalities and strengths, and those personal preferences will bubble to the surface when it comes to getting things done. There are even many different recommendations on how to best tackle a to-do list. While it’s important to empower your team members by giving them freedom and autonomy, reporting on progress needs to be systematized and calibrated to make remote work actually work.
Empower team members with tools that avoid meetings
A full-team meeting is almost impossible at our company, and in many cases meetings aren’t actually needed to move a project forward. If there’s a way for one team member to set up another without having to meet face-to-face, they should be equipped to do so. For example, the free screen recording app Loom allows team members to show updates or create tutorials that can then be used for standard operating procedures.
If your company now expects to be partially or fully remote for the long term, it’s time to prioritize moving tasks forward and not obsess so much over how many hours of meetings or busy work someone has on their calendar. When employees have the knowledge and tools they need to thrive remotely, everything falls into place much more quickly.
Hire for talent, not for convenience
Sure, it might be more convenient to manage a team member who lives in your zip code. But do you want your business to be convenient, or do you want to be efficient and productive in our new hybrid work landscape? Managing a remote team can be more challenging at first because it requires communication finesse and tight operations, but once you have everything in place you can truly go after some of the best talent in the world.
Millions of talented people are excited to do the work quickly and well in exchange for location independence. You’d be surprised; just because you don’t want to work irregular hours doesn’t mean the same is true for some other professional who lives thousands of miles away.
The future of work is hybrid, whether you like it or not. Even if you and your team will eventually return to the office, the preferences of the global workforce have shifted considerably. Set your business systems up now to embrace workers from all over the world and you’ll be better positioned to assemble your dream team.
Entrepreneur Leadership Network Contributor