Outsourcing is not anything new in the business. It was a common practice to delegate specific duties to the third-party teams long ago. Companies got rid of routine or resolved complicated tasks that demanded extra expertise this way. Besides, it is usually more cost-saving to assign particular jobs to specialists from the external teams instead of hiring and training people for a full-time job in their own companies.
Any business uses digital technologies. From the standard CRM systems to highly customized personal solutions, applications, and chatbots, IT tools are omnipresent. Understandably, these tools need maintenance, support, and constant enhancement. While the company’s internal IT department could perform some jobs efficiently, other requirements can be far beyond the average competencies of the staff.
Therefore, it is only logical to hire specialists for specific recurring duties. In addition, it is not necessary to have them in the office. Instead, third-party teams can access their subjects remotely and work remotely. By now, IT outsourcing has entered the business fields as a constant and the most natural thing.
The global pandemic forced the companies to take a step further and apply the remote working model as basic. The tendency has been here for many years. The pandemic only accelerated it. But the working environment and the entire work market are now completely different.
As the practice proved, switching to the remote model turned out to be less complicated and brought more benefits than expected. The success comes from understanding what advantages you get from this model and how to make the most of the remote teams. Leading remote teams is all about that.
Remote teams and team-leading – all the great things about it
So, the initial idea behind working with remote teams was to cut costs. It remains such now. The standard recommendation for many startups is to use outsourcing instead of setting up a fully-staffed office. It allows for saving money significantly. Speaking of the IT area with its remote and often distributed teams, we can stress another value. Distributed teams can bring more productivity.
In many companies, the primary postulate was that working in the same office ensures quality work, and it is the only mode possible. How would you spread the corporate culture if your employees are on the other side of the Earth?
Before the COVID-19 pandemic forced the companies to switch to the remote model, most teams refused to evolve. But when it happened, it turned out that the work productivity did not suffer at all. Far from that – productivity increased!
Why? The key is the appropriate building of the remote team and leading it in the right way.
The benefit of choice
Assume that you are launching a new business. Or, simpler – you want to implement some new elements into your daily routines. For that, you’ll need new technical solutions and people who will create or adjust them to your needs. Therefore, your first task is to find the people.
This is the sticking point. Even if you are in Silicon Valley or any other location where IT companies and the best brains are concentrated, you may have hard times searching for the people and hiring them directly. First of all, most of them are already engaged.
In the IT sphere, there are too many players. It is great, as their competition brings more advantages to the end-users. On the other hand, FAANG giants grow fast and need new specialists constantly. Smaller companies just can’t outplay them and other dominants. And though Silicon Valley is not the only location where qualified IT specialists work, it might be a real challenge to find and hire one, especially when it suggests moving to a different location.
The lack of specialists is a constant problem, and it is difficult to overcome, especially for small businesses that don’t have huge resources. In 2021, almost 50% of small business owners reported complications with finding and hiring employees. There can be specialists in your city, but they might not possess the required qualities and expertise. It happens frequently that you can’t assemble a complete team at your location.
You might look for potential employees in other cities, and even find suitable candidates. But there is another problem here. Leaving homes would also mean pay drops and, thus, negative changes in the lifestyle for many workers. Your offer might not compensate for those complications.
But what if you have new professional challenges and prospects, and still allow the candidates to keep all the big and small benefits available at home? That will sound much more interesting.
The employer can access a much wider talent pool. It can be a fully-staffed team that works by the outsourcing model. Or you may pick different specialists from different locations. It is also possible to work with mixed assemblies. You choose. And that choice is absent if you allow for only “on-premise” options.
Besides, with such a diversity of choices, you can find the best “competence-price” correlation. Needless to say, how important it is now – it increases your chances to succeed drastically.
Though, of course, assembling a team does not resolve the task itself immediately. The success will depend on how it will work and how you will conduct it.
Motivation and independence
Many types of research provided the same results: remote employees are often more productive and, what is worth special noticing, more loyal. Improvements are many, from increasing the overall work time – up to 16.8 more days every year to the productivity boost by 13% minimum. The employees work longer and do more within the same time, willingly.
One of the apparent reasons is reducing stress. Commuting is a principal stress factor, and skipping it makes employees much happier. It is not the only factor, but it is inherent. Despite all attempts to use the time spent on struggling through the traffic jams fruitfully, it leads to productivity decreases.
Besides, we all are more productive during different periods. With implementing remote work, the opportunity to use our personal physical and psychological peaks in the best way became prevailing.
The remote working model is more flexible and better-oriented towards personal abilities. While companies try hard to reach this level of personalization in the office, it comes naturally in the remote mode.
Working with a distributed team, without perpetual micromanagement and monitoring in the office, a team leader has to develop a different type of cooperation. A significant part of control goes away. Remote employees get more independence, and the entire psychological climate changes. Does it matter? Oh, yes.
More independence, less stress, and growing productivity lead to increasing professional self-esteem. The employees feel more motivated and responsible. They are willing to accept more challenges, with clear goals and the freedom in planning how to accomplish those goals.
Thus, the effectiveness of leading remote teams depends on the ability to organize the work and on the trust. Many companies use some kind of free time tracker software for managing their teams both in the office and remotely. But it is crucial not to turn this software into the tool of control and spying – it has to be a tool for self-organization and analysis.
Trust and building an environment where all team members, even located in different countries, can feel parts of the same unit are the cornerstones of success.
Mutual learning and evolving
Whether this working mode is usual for you, or it came as an innovation, it suggests continuous learning for all participants of the process. When dealing with “classical” outsourcing, you don’t worry much about the work organization on that side. You just assign them some jobs, accept the results, and save time, money, and brain energy. When it is your own team – it is different.
The current mass switching to the remote working model came as a result of the world’s emergency. Now, more than a year later, we can state that this mode is fine and effective. Thus, even after the current restrictions go away, the majority of employees will prefer working remotely. The new goal is to get the best of this working style.
You lead remote teams and supervise their results. The team members perform their duties. Both of you focus on working smoothly and conveniently. To achieve this, you invent and develop personal tips, specific methods, and approaches. Moreover, you can try them in practice immediately and see which of them work, and what you should change to make them better. And you can move further from that.
The next step is sharing these practical tips. When you accept them from other team members, implement them in your work, modify them accordingly, and find the optimal solutions. Right now, we are all taking part in a big new project, developing an advanced community of remote employees.
By sharing experiences, we learn how to organize distant teams and achieve the best results. Each case of the remote team leading is another brick in that building of the new, flexible, and productive work style.
Some practical tips for better abundance
Despite being quite a young area, leading remote teams has already established itself. There are standards and commonplace recommendations for any new or experienced team leader. You might also find them helpful.
Set the rules and agree on them
Working with a distributed team has one serious complication – the physical distance between the members. That’s why it is vital to eliminate any miscommunication at the beginning. The team should work according to the rules. Though every member is independent and adjusts the convenient working mode for themselves, the following aspects must be defined at once:
- Duties and responsibilities for everyone;
- Means and purposes of personal and group communication;
- The precise schedule for the entire project and each stage of work;
- Means of monitoring the work progress;
- The schedule of regular communication sessions.
With all aspects defined, don’t expect that they won’t change. One of the qualities of a decent team leader is the ability to adapt. Work and communication schedules may need reviewing. Technical means may prove more or less efficient. All kinds of issues may arise. The key ability is to detect such circumstances at once, to consider them, and to react accordingly.
Ensuring the conventional psychological climate is no less important for the remote team than for the employees in the office. Despite removing many stresses, there are other challenges. Employees need more self-discipline and much better self-motivation. Here, the primary goal in leading remote teams is to make all separate workers feel like a team.
The last year made a real revolution in the ways of organizing remote work. The IT industry was forced to make this work model primary. As it turned out, it does not differ from the office work. The teams preserved and even improved their productivity. Companies, in their turn, raised revenues due to accessing the talent pool that was unavailable before. Of course, it is only the beginning. Flexibility and development are the future.