According to an estimate published by the employment and technology portal Silicon Republic, by 2025 remote working will be just as important as traditional onsite work, or even more, and Telework Research Network holds that by 2020 one out of three workers will be self-employed and will work online.
Thousands of sources around the globe show that we’re definitely evolving towards a new work paradigm, and companies which don’t embrace the many benefits of remote working will objectively risk losing competitive advantages:
- Remote working facilitates the access to talents across the world
- Remote working teams are more versatile and flexible
- It’s proven that remote working can increase productivity
- Remote workers experience higher satisfaction levels
The question is not, then, whether remote working is worth the effort or not, but how we can manage it assertively to get the best results. That’s why below we’ll discuss further about the challenges usually faced by leaders remote working teams and 10 unfailing strategies to overcome them successfully.
Which are the challenges faced by leaders of remote working teams?
First of all, we have to make a difference between the existing myths around remote work and the true challenges faced by companies when embracing this work style. Mistaken notions such as the supposed “lack of commitment from freelancers” and the belief that freelancing “just works for IT-related areas” have fortunately been discredited by evidence.
The truth is that you need a change of mindset to adopt remote working. Some of the biggest challenges faced by leaders of remote working teams and freelancers according to portal Remoters are these:
- Problems in management and coordination of work
- Difficulties in interpersonal communication
- Feeling of solitude and isolation
Besides, at Workana we’ve identified some other concerns from companies currently working with freelancers, related mostly to lack of professionals skilled at training leaders for remote teams, and also some problems to find the right talent.
Taking a leap towards freelancing and remote work: 10 tips to move ahead
Overcoming these challenges, thankfully, is not complicated at all. All you need to do is using the right tools and establishing working protocols to adapt to the needs of both workers and company.
Take note of these 10 strategies to lead freelance teams:
1. Make the most of technology: tools for remote and collaborative work
It seems that in every available decalogue about remote work for teams, technological tools get the leading role.
Online apps such as Asana, Google Suite, Slack, Skype, Zoom, Toggl, Office online, Dropbox, Trello, Calendly, etc. have everything you might need and more in order 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 of them are pretty much 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 we count on everything we need to make our deliveries in due time, along with a 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 key to help news 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 and effort to create a welcoming protocol for the project, stating clearly what you expect from the freelancer, which the available work tools are and how to use them, and which the corporate culture and values are, among other things.
3. Goal-driven work
Absolutely every manual and book on productivity agree that 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 organized 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, 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 4 in the morning, or should interrupt their yoga session 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, it might be so simple as stating that all messages will be sent through the project chat and not through email, and that each team member has up to twelve hours to provide an answer to them.
5. Promoting bonding activities
One of the disadvantages usually mentioned in relation to remote work is the feeling of solitude and isolation that might be experienced by freelancers. 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. That’s why it’s really important to promote and plan regular bonding and team building activities, which may include weekly videoconferences, occasional face-to-face meetings, group dynamics, etc.
For example, a good introduction dynamics is asking your collaborators to share with the rest of the team a picture or video of their work area and explain in detail which tools they use and which elements build up the work space with their own personality and style.
There are many elements that motivate our work: the economic pay we get, loving what we do, the acknowledgement for a well-done job and the ability to find a purpose and a clear goal at the end of our effort.
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. It’s not just about asking for an “innovative” copy for a landing page, for instance, but conveying the enthusiasm to achieve a persuasive original writing leading to a sales increase, and also backfeeding freelancers with the positive results of their work.
Speaking of giving feedback, we can’t avoid mentioning that constant feedback, either positive or negative, is essential to enhance the results of a remote team. We could address a long article just to this topic, and that’s what you’ll find on this post.
8. Welcoming the culture of error
The culture of error can be summarized like this: the error should stop being taken as something “negative” and avoided at all costs -instead, it should have its place as a unique opportunity to keep constant optimization and evolution in processes.
Leaving “room” for smart error 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 the synergy between remote and onsite work
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 workstyle.
10. Using a reliable platform to find self-employed talent
Finally, it’s worth mentioning that managing a solid, efficient remote working team starts from the search and selection of talent. Using freelancing platforms which offer guarantees, good hiring options and a reliable rating and ranking system is the best way of starting up a project with freelancers.
At Workana we take our mission very seriously: we’ll grant you the best experience to find and hire self-employed professionals, making it easy to create a project, compare bids and manage payments.
Don’t wait any longer! Start growing today with the best freelance talent of the world.