The coronavirus pandemic forced business as we know it to change. And while there’s been a lot of talk about “when things get back to normal,” the world of business may never return to what it once was — and that could be great news. There are a lot of perks to having a remote team, even if you never considered it before.
If you’ve had to build a remote team due to COVID, or if you saw how well some remote teams can function and you want to build one yourself, here’s what you should know.
Consider Hiring Freelancers
If you don’t already have freelancers working for you, it’s a good time to consider hiring them. Employers who are comfortable with remote work, especially post-COVID since they’ve had to acclimate to remote work whether they wanted to or not, maybe more trusting of or willing to hire freelancers now.
Freelancers are pros at remote work because that’s generally how they’ve run their entire career. Often, employers can skip over the process of setting up a freelancer to work remotely, and you likely won’t have to provide many (if any) tools, either. Aside from paid software that you require the freelancer to use, they’ll already have an office space set up with a computer, a strong internet connection, etc.
Here’s another reason to hire freelancers: They can fill in talent gaps. Many freelancers are pros in a niche. So, if you need an SEO specialist, a content writer, or a Facebook ads creator, you can find a freelancer who specializes in just that — and only pay them for that specific work rather than give them a salary and benefits for full-time employment.
Split the Week Between In-Office and Remote Work
Companies that functioned entirely with an in-office team and then had to switch to 100% remote work are asking if a five-day-a-week in-office schedule is still the right thing. Working from home has a lot of benefits for everything from the environment to employee morale and productivity.
But telling your employees how many days to work from home may not be the best approach. Some will want to work from home full-time — and you’ll have to decide if that’s possible and/or best for the team. Others will want to be at the office full-time, like if they have children at home and know they won’t be able to focus. And others will want to split the week in a particular way, like two days at home and three in the office or vice versa.
A main point is this, though: No matter how people prefer to split up their week, every employee is going to want the ability to have a say over it.
Decide If In-Person Events Need to Resume
During the thick of the pandemic, events and gatherings that would normally be held in person moved online. But now that it’s safer to gather in groups, you may be considering bringing those happenings into the real world once again.
Tele-events are more than just a quick fix for not being able to gather in person, though. Exhibitions and meetings held online are less formal and time-sensitive than ones held in person, and if someone can’t attend, they can watch it on playback.
For this, you’ll have to decide if the attendees would prefer to meet online or in real life. But keep this in mind: A lot of people relocated during the pandemic, so whether you’re talking about employees who need to gather for office meetings or staff that you need to be on hand for events, their geographic location may be different from what it was before.
Keep Your Employees in the Loop
It’s not ideal to keep everything secret until decisions are finalized. Employees don’t want to be left in the dark, especially after a year-plus of not knowing how the pandemic was going to impact … everything.
Letting people know what changes are being discussed or in the works makes them feel like they’re part of the team and that they’re being considered. It also opens the door for feedback that you can use to make the best decisions for everyone involved.
There’s almost nothing that shoots down morale like employees feeling like they’re on shaky ground at work — and post-COVID, morale can’t afford to go down any more than it already is.
Measure Success Until the Best Scenario is Achieved
As you try to set up a remote team, it’s a good idea to keep track of how well it’s working (or where the system is failing). Measure outcomes such as:
- Feedback collected (or lack of it)
- Frequency of networking
- Hours worked
- Missed deadlines
- Work satisfaction
Data will help measure some of these results, but for others, you’ll need to open a dialogue with employees in some way. For example, work satisfaction rates can be measured by taking anonymous polls.
When measuring the success of a fully- or partially remote team, you may also want to ask yourself if requiring set hours is necessary or if requiring specific outcomes is a better approach. (For freelancers, setting outcome-bound work is typically more worthwhile than asking them to work X amount of hours per day or week.)
Overall, the coronavirus pandemic — and its aftermath, though we’re still not out of the woods — has presented employers with the opportunity to question and change conventional methods that may not work any longer. Here’s something else to consider: A lot of companies are going to adopt remote work permanently, and if you can’t offer employees that type of flexibility, they may move on to a company that can.
Even if businesses could plod along in the traditional way they always have, COVID has forced a lot of employers to see from a different perspective-one that’s more modern, efficient, and sophisticated than that of the past.
Brian Meert is the CEO of AdvertiseMint, a Hollywood-based digital advertising agency that specializes in helping successful companies advertise on Facebook, Google, Amazon, and Tiktok. AdvertiseMint has managed millions of dollars in digital ad spends in entertainment, fashion, finance, and software industries. Brian is the author of the best-selling, The Complete Guide to Facebook Advertising, a contributor to Newsweek and Forbes, and a thought leader and speaker.