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How These Successful Companies Increased Productivity using Remote Teams

How These Successful Companies Increased Productivity using Remote Teams

Image by Nattanan Kanchanaprat

Remote teams are rapidly becoming the crux of modern companies. With the benefits being touted by CEO’s all over the world, it’s no wonder why employees being “out” is the new “in”.

When done right, a remote team can boost your company’s productivity to unforeseen levels. But doing it ‘right’ is precisely what keeps many managers on the fence on whether they should hire a remote team or not. Is there really a sure-fire way to make remote teams increase productivity for your business?

As with anything that involves managing people, there is no secret sauce to success. What you do have at your disposal, however, are strategies, techniques, and tips which successful companies have acquired through experience in managing their own remote teams.

Best practices for managing remote teams:

  • Look for initiative.
  • Make communication deliberate.
  • Care about your team.
  • Hire the best talent, wherever they are.

To expand on each best practice, here are some words of wisdom from successful companies who increased their productivity using remote teams:

Look for initiative

In his blog post on the traits to look for when hiring remote workers, former CEO at Chargify Lance Wally puts in his two cents about what has made this top recurring billing company a proud success story in the world of remote work.

For maximum productivity within a team, Lance recommends hiring remote workers who:

  • Take the initiative to research the company and its market before the interview
  • Are pro-active in testing the product or service to make suggestions on specific improvements
  • Exhibit a ‘self-starter’ attitude by listing tasks they can take responsibility for if they were to be hired

Hiring new team members based on the traits of self-motivator and self-disciplined is also the go-to advice from known companies including TeamGantt, DataStax, Doist, WooThemes, and Time Doctor.

Make communication deliberate

Wade Foster, Co-Founder of Zapier explains how communication was the key to building a high-functioning remote team while gaining over 600,000 users in just 3 years. He places particular emphasis on how the right tools are necessary to ensure everyone is on the same page and can do the work without being micro-managed. But even so, he maintains the following:

“What’s absolutely critical is communication, regardless of what tools you use.”

That said, Zapier depends greatly on Slack and GoToMeeting for their team communications, while using project management tools like Trello to keep everyone’s tasks visible. He also states how the communication factor makes it especially important to hire team members who are able to write well, since in a remote environment, almost everything is shared via text.

This focus on communication to ensure an effective remote team is shared by CEOs and managers at major companies including Toggl, GitLab, FlexJobs, and Formstack.

Care about your team

For Fire Engine RED, keeping their remote workers happy is a number one priority. Shelly Spiegel, president and co-founder, agrees it’s one of the reasons this e-technology company has a high-performing team and a miniscule turnover rate.

A cohesive company culture is just one of the key factors Shelly believes are the foundation of her loyal and productive team. Fire Engine RED also pays 100% of her employees’ health insurance and gives them unlimited sick days. Surprisingly, none of her workers have taken advantage of these unlimited days due to the tremendous amount of trust within the company.

But how do these benefits tie into increasing productivity in the workplace? Many studies show that being happy makes you more productive at work, so no matter where your workers are established, keeping them happy and stress-free should be a top priority. It certainly is for Fire Engine RED, making it clear why their 100% remote team has transformed the company into the most innovative technology solution for the education market.

Hire the best talent wherever they are

Adam Schwartz, CEO of Articulate, states that one of the most beneficial aspects of remote teams is being able to hire talent from anywhere in the world.

It’s already a challenge for companies to find great people who fit into the company culture. But it’s even more difficult when your search is limited to the cities where you have offices.

Schwartz quickly realized this when he began his e-learning software tools company in New York. During his search for top talent, he found that the technical experts he needed to create the first product lived in Mumbai and Missouri, not the Big Apple.

Schwartz maintains that “talent trumps geography”, and the ability to pick and choose the best talent from anywhere around the globe is what keeps his company thriving today.

This diverse pool of talent quickly resulted in a heightened productivity, taking even Schwartz by surprise. This success with their remote team is reflected in their wildly profitable company which now has over 115,000 clients around the world. Some big name clients including Microsoft, Google, and Ford.

Going by the success of these top companies, it’s easy to see how the culture of remote teams is slowly changing the workplace norm. In fact, remote work in the U.S has grown by 103% in the last decade alone.

So before assembling a remote dream team of your own, keep in mind the recommendations of people who have been there and done that. By following their advice, you may find yourself in a few month’s time agreeing with the CEO of Articulate in saying:

“After becoming a fully remote company, we’re convinced a distributed environment isn’t just good for our employees. It’s also one of the key reasons we’ve been so successful as a company.”


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