Remote work has its advantages— flexibility, low or no overhead
costs, and a greater pipeline of applicants from which to hire. But it also
has its drawbacks—less interaction,
concern about whether employees
are staying on task and communication challenges. Because dispersed
employees may work in different cities,
states, countries and time zones, they
rely heavily on technology to connect
and collaborate with others.
Here are tips from supervisors and
workplace experts who are getting great
results from their remote teams.
Before his software company’s work-
force became 100 percent remote,
Alex Turnbull, founder and CEO of
GrooveHQ, described an office where
workers were there but not always pres-
ent. While people generally worked well
together when they needed to, many
tuned out with earbuds or headphones
as they tackled their day-to-day tasks.
Turnbull didn’t see why they needed to
be in the same room all the time.
Relinquishing a physical corpo-
rate office eliminated costly real estate
expenses, improved work/life balance
and expanded the company’s capacity
to recruit top talent more quickly. But
culture suffered until the staff figured
out ways to maintain a sense of com-
munity through virtual and in-person
As a strategy to find the best remote
employees, some companies deploy in
the hiring process the same technology
workers are likely to use on the job. For
example, conducting virtual interviews
can give employers insight into how the
candidate approaches remote work, says
Neil Patel, co-founder of Crazy Egg, a
Seattle-based analytics company.
“It’s important to understand why
they work remotely and how they work,”
A well-designed onboarding process
is an effective way to familiarize new
employees with the people, processes
and tools—such as video technology and
collaboration platforms—that they need
to succeed, experts say. For example,
some organizations use videoconferencing tools to give new employees a virtual
tour of workspaces and to introduce
them to co-workers even before they
It’s also important for company leaders to use technology themselves and
provide appropriate training to the
entire workforce, says Kevin Eikenberry,
founder of The Kevin Eikenberry Group
and co-founder of the Remote Leadership Institute in Indianapolis.
“From the ubiquitous e-mail to how
to have meetings, everything is mediated
through technology,” he says.
That’s why he asks new virtual team
members to initiate 15- to 30-minute
get-to-know-you phone conversations
with each existing team member. The
calls foster collaboration and take some
of the pressure off the manager to be the
sole contact person.
Other technologies that organizations provide to support virtual team
• Just-in-time training platforms.
• Online collaboration solutions.
• Web-based performance management systems that evaluate employees’
accomplishments, not the hours they
spend on the job.
• Online recognition platforms.
The right training and technology can ensure that offsite workers don’t feel left out.
By Arlene S. Hirsch