Up to 90% percent of professionals would prefer to work from home, according to recent survey results published by Global Workplace Analytics. Indeed, many forward-thinking online businesses cut costs, improve productivity, and boost profits by using a structured approach to build a competent and skilled remote workforce. 30% of employees believe that they accomplish more work from home, and 70% of managers agree. With 60% of polled job seekers expressing a desire to work remotely, building a remote team for your ecommerce platform could help you land the best talent.
Remote Team Building Tip #1: Find Remote Candidates
In 2017, nearly 3% of the American labor pool — or 3.9 million employees — worked from home, according to the FlexJobs annual State of Telecommuting in the U.S. Report. In agreement with the Global Workplace Analytics survey, a study conducted by the Harvard Business Review found that employees that work from home are more productive.
- Sites such as FlexJobs allow you to post openings for remote positions and find the best talent in the nation. This alternative employment job board features companies that offer trustworthy flexible work opportunities, creating a marketplace of high-quality remote jobs. Once you’re approved to list on the site, you’ll have access to post unlimited jobs and other free services. Here, job candidates pay a subscription fee — rather than you, the employer — to access the website, so they are highly motivated to find remote work
- SkiptheDrive is another well-known remote worker site. The company is staffed entirely by remote employees. SkiptheDrive offers a 20% discount if you list multiple jobs and guarantees a positive outcome for your candidate search
- Remote.co is another credible resource that you can use to build a remote team. Like FlexJobs, the site vets flexible work opportunities
As workers continue to look for remote or freelance opportunities, the quality of workers you can find has increased significantly. In fact, the majority of the U.S. workforce will freelance by 2027, says Upwork.
Remote Team Building Tip #2: Assess Applicant Skills
Start assessing applicant skills by reviewing their LinkedIn profile. The business networking site provides a feature where peers can endorse professional skills.
On LinkedIn, you can view job candidates’ recommendations and endorsements and even reach out to their network for verification. While you’re there, you can also check references from previous employers. Just as with traditional hiring, you should speak with references directly whenever possible.
Also, remote work sites such as FlexJobs offer assessment tools that you can use to test job candidates’ professional skills. Alternatively, you can use a service such as eSkill to test worker abilities. eSkill offers hundreds of tests and also allows you to create custom exams.
There are also many standard psychological tests that you can administer to test remote job candidates. The Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory (MMPI), for instance, is a 102 question test designed to evaluate self-motivation, which is an essential trait for remote workers.
The MMPI will help you assess job candidates’ ability to work without supervision. Once you’ve narrowed down the candidates, ask potential new hires open-ended questions to figure out who’s the best fit for your company.
Remote Team Building Tip #3: Train Remote New Hires
There’s no need to transition from a brick-and-mortar office to a 100% remote team overnight; build your remote workforce in phases. Begin by allowing select employees to work from home for one or two days a week. For some, there’s a learning curve involved in mastering the tools required for remote work. Not all employees understand how to use communication tools such as Slack and video chat.
A controlled transition from the office to home will help skilled workers get up to speed. When launching your remote team, start by training them on how to use digital communication tools.
Whether you’re transitioning to a remote workforce or building one from scratch, make sure that you provide support for your remote employees. Guide all staff members in understanding policies that govern working outside of the office.
If you already employ a mix of in-house and remote staff members, you can ask experienced remote workers in your talent pool to mentor new off-site employees. Your experienced off-site workers are an excellent resource for training new remote staff members.
Never assume that new hires will hit the ground running. Introduce them to your workplace policies and your company. By relating the importance of time management, organization, and communication, you’ll demonstrate your company’s commitment to career development for remote workers.
Once training is complete, check in with your remote employees regularly. Also, monitor remote worker performance closely. With less supervision, remote workers are less likely to question whether they’re performing as desired.
Remote Team Building Tip #4: Set Up Remote Work Environments
There is a range of cost-effective solutions that you can leverage to build your remote workforce, and many companies now allow off-site employees to use their own devices for company business.
Owl Labs, for instance, is a low-cost but powerful all-in-one video conferencing camera. The meeting tool features a built-in smart speaker, a powerful internal processor, and a 360° camera that autofocuses on meeting participants, and Slack is a leading team collaboration tool that workers can use on nearly any internet-connected device. Sometimes, for instance, remote workers need to monitor a Slack channel for an important update while they’re on the go. The easiest way to do this is on their mobile device.
Before you deploy your remote hardware and software resources, however, it’s important to establish security policies. As an example, employees should never use free, unsecured public Wifi when connecting to the company network or accounts where sensitive information is located.
When employees must access a public Wi-Fi connection, instruct them to use a virtual private network (VPN). Enterprise VPN services encrypt your data for a nominal fee. With a little research, you can find a mobile VPN client that can protect all the devices your remote team needs.
With the growing use of IoT (the Internet of Things) devices such as Amazon’s digital personal assistant Alexa, hackers have more ways to use your remote employees’ devices to compromise your company network. A VPN client, however, will block IoT attack vectors. By using a VPN client and following other cybersecurity best practices, you can keep your sensitive information safe and avoid business interruptions.
Remote Team Building Tip #5: Establish Team Security Policies
To keep your company data safe in a remote work environment, you must establish and enforce cybersecurity practices. Train newly hired remote workers about your company’s security policies during onboarding and orientation.
- Two-factor authentication (2FA) is another way to secure your company information. Certain cloud providers will allow you to require remote workers to log in with a one-use four-digit code in addition to their password. As an example, a remote employee will receive a one-use password on their mobile device and use it to log in to your company network on their laptop.
- You must maintain control over your company information when deploying a remote workforce. By establishing information-handling policies and making it clear who owns data, you’ll avoid disputes should a remote worker decide to part with your company.
- Programs such as Corrata allow you to monitor remote worker data traffic and enforce access policies. If a worker exits employment with your organization, for example, you could use this service to disable the former employee’s email access. The application offers many features for managing company devices.
- Take advantage of cloud storage services. Cloud storage and file-sharing services such as Google Docs and Dropbox allow remote workers to share files easily, however, these services serve a second function as a permanent off-site data backup.
- Use an enterprise proxy server when allowing remote employees to access your legacy network. Also, you can encrypt company emails with applications such as Proofpoint and Datamotion to keep hackers from intercepting corporate communications.
Remote Team Building Tip #6: Maintain Teamwork Across the Digital Domain
Whether your team is 100% remote or a mix of off-site and on-site workers, you need to promote a positive corporate culture across the continuum of your talent pool. Start by communicating your company values to all workers every day.
- To do this, you can send a simple daily push notification to your entire workforce. Using Airship, for example, you can send push notifications to up to 10,000 remote workers for less than $100 per month. The program can push notifications to a range of mobile devices, laptops, tablets, and PCs.
- Remember to share your success. When employees do something right, let the whole organization know about it. Positive acknowledgment boosts morale and sets the bar for other workers.
- Take steps to promote corporate diversity. Your company will benefit from a range of views, and your workers will find more satisfaction in an inclusive environment. What’s more, celebrate the diverse cultures of your workers.
- Host occasional group video conferences. Group meetings will help your remote workers feel like they’re part of the team.
- Promoting your corporate culture starts with the hiring process. Hire workers who you believe will be a good fit with your organization.
- Clearly define workers’ roles during orientation. If remote workers have a clear understanding of their responsibilities, they’re more likely to perform optimally.
- If you’re building a remote workforce, use remote communication tools across your enterprise. By doing so, you’ll draw workers closer together.
In ecommerce and a range of industries, more business leaders are hiring skilled remote workers. A remote team is your opportunity to cut costs, boost business and achieve your entrepreneurial goals. Try out these tips to build your own remote team today.