It's not about presenteeism

‘Remote teams are not about being on a computer and calls all day – it’s about asynchronous work, doing it when it suits you. Managers can be sensitive to people not being at the office doing work when they want it done. At the end of the day, I’ve learned you need to be building based on trust, and focusing on output, rather than time. Although some people I hire are on an hourly rate versus a salary, it’s still more about the output.’

Onboarding needs process

‘Onboarding can be quite challenging. I’ve realised it’s about having documentation and then making sure that one person is responsible for keeping that onboarding documentation up to date. I hired an HR person and she knows everything about the business, writes all the job descriptions and helps onboard everyone. People fill out profiles where we ask them questions about their personal life – knowing these small things really matters to people who are working at home all the time and may not be interacting with other people or in an office.’

You need to let the vision evolve

‘We have our company vision, mission and values written out – it’s really important when you have people around the world, some of whom may have not worked in a structured organisation. This doesn’t have to be set in stone – I say to the team, “This is what I think our vision, mission and values are, but if you disagree with me, tell me, because I’m all for changing it.” When people feel it’s also their choice, I’ve found they’re more dedicated to what they’re doing. Everyone needs a purpose – and I think everyone’s purpose has changed with the pandemic. You need to include your team and realign everyone on that purpose.’

Understand cultural nuances

‘Some people don’t speak up when they’re stuck on something or having a bad day – and no one’s going to know because nobody sees you walking past the fridge. You need to rely on employees who have been there longer to take the initiative and say, “I’m here to chat.” One thing we do is regularly ask people what blockers they have. It’s the manager’s job to unblock them. But though it’s my job, there’s only so much you can ask – you have to understand cultural differences. In some cultures, people don’t speak up, people don’t say things to their boss.’

Don't be afraid to outsource

‘I would definitely consider having a chief of staff or head of culture. It’s a fine balance of keeping everyone happy, making sure there’s enough money in the bank to pay everyone, and that you’re growing and your customers are happy. I suggest having a virtual assistant for a couple of hours a week. It can be really good for some of those tasks and getting organised. The assistant can speak to your team on a regular basis, collect feedback, and bring it to you.’

This article was first published in Courier Issue 38, December/January 2021. To purchase the issue or become a subscriber, head to our webshop.

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