I’m here to advocate the use of an all remote team.

By Alexander Yumashev, CEO and Co-founder at Jitbit Software

So, I’m about to blow your mind with a crazy question: What if I told you that you could build a multi-million dollar enterprise with only remote workers on your team? You’d probably say something like, ‘this guy’s nuts.’ Well, the fact of the matter is that it is possible. How do I know? I know because I did it myself.

The thing is, physical office spaces just don’t make much sense nowadays. To me specifically, they never really made sense. Having to deal with location, square footage (roughly 100 square feet per employee is the rule of thumb), brokers and boatloads of hidden costs–is a bunch of garbage that makes my head spin.

It’s 2019–and more and more people from all over the world can work from home without having to spend hours in traffic–effectively taking away from their levels of productivity in the workplace. Oh, and by the way, a recent study has shown that 70% of people all around the world already spend at least one day per week working from home. Ah, the wonders of the internet!

So yeah, I’m here to advocate the use of an all remote team. Not just that, but I’m also going to tell you how you as a founder can best optimize your virtual workforce.

Coordinate one time a day when everyone is online to communicate

Some of you might have just rolled your eyes and thought, ‘how am I possibly going to ensure everyone is online at a certain time?’ Relax, don’t go on a tangent. Of course, you’re not going to be able to secure 100% of your workforce online at any time of the day. But guess what? By analyzing the time differences of your workers during their work schedules and finding that sweet spot where some are just waking up and others are about to sign off, you will find a specific hour when the global time zones of your team intersect. Then, use this “happy hour” to communicate with them and ask to complete specific tasks that you need to get done.

How do you ensure that everyone shows up to the happy hour? The solution is as simple as sending out a Google Calendar invite to your team. And, you could potentially help remote employees feel less disengaged, which, by the way, is one of the main reasons why they end up quitting. It doesn’t have to take a long time–no more than one hour is enough so that you don’t cut into their work or personal time. Remember–it isn’t about micromanaging, but rather about finding a universal time where you can let others know where they can help out.

Make your employees human, not just avatars on Slack

Team building gets a bad rap. I can’t count how many times I’ve seen the concept get bashed in pop culture, even though it’s one of the most important aspects of a successful workforce. Yep, you read that right–90% of business leaders agree that an engagement strategy impacts the success of the business. The catch? Only about 25% of those same leaders actually have a strategy in place.

If you are one of those business leaders that believe in the importance of team building in an office environment, that need is amplified if your team is all-remote. One ten-year global study which analyzed over 200,000 employees and managers concluded that 79% of workers quit because they feel unappreciated in the workplace. Now, imagine how many of your remote workers feel the same?

So how can you build your e-team? The aim is to bring an identity and personality to people that mostly interact on Slack or by email. Here are some tips we use to make our e-team more “human”:

  • We ask that all our employees make a short video featuring their workspace, family, interests etc. which will be shared with all co-workers every six months.
  • We also hold a mandatory video conference once every two weeks, where we talk about anything except work. The meetings are mandatory as per the company policy.
  • We have 1-2 company retreats per year to fun destinations where people can go skiing or lay around on the beach.
  • We ask our team wear a different outfit so their families know they’re “at work”

It may seem like a harsh thing to obligate your employees to do, but they’ll thank you in the end. That, and the numbers speak for themselves: 87% of workers report feeling more connected to their team when having video conferences.

Utilize technology: Important tech tools that keep your team cohesive and efficient

Simply using email is not enough to ensure that your team is as efficient as can be — just don’t be cheap and get some useful software. Not only do remote work tools help you stay connected to your team, but they can also help you manage projects and keep digital files organized. In fact, we don’t even use email to communicate internally. Let’s face it, if you haven’t heard of these tools yet, you’re the one that’s living under a rock:

  • Slack: Your all-in-one solution to keeping your team connected. Honestly, I don’t know what I would do without this bad boy.
  • GitHub: The best code hosting platform out there.
  • an error monitoring/quality management system
  • Trello: A project management tool that uses color coding to help you nail all your deadlines.

As it turns out, there are still a significant amount of people who lack the processes to successfully manage a remote team. Upwork reports that even though most U.S. companies are embracing remote work, less than half of them have policies in place for their e-teams. Don’t be that guy, pull yourself together and use some tools.

Telecommuting is all about creating a culture where remote workers, who are accustomed to independence, can flourish. To help them be the best that they can be, you yourself must become less of a micromanager and instead focus on building a company culture that fosters trust and independence. And, you also need to provide the tools necessary for your remote employees to succeed and be happy.

Alexander Yumashev is the CEO and Co-founder at Jitbit Software.

Remote team stock photo by lareen/Shutterstock