32.6 million Americans will work remotely by 2025. These numbers highlight how popular remote work opportunities are, but learning how to build a remote team is easier said than done.

Achieving a well-structured remote team takes time and consideration. And you also have to think about the key differences between managing remote workers and in-person employees.

In this article, we’ll take you on a step-by-step journey to constructing a remote team that’s motivated, productive, and dedicated to your organization’s mission and values.

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Steps to Build Your Remote Team

Ready to cultivate thriving remote teams? Dive into success with these twelve straightforward steps.

1. Define Your Remote Work Policy and Culture

If you’re just joining the remote work train, it’s crucial to understand if your organization is fit for a remote team. 

Consider these factors:

  • Do you have dedicated roles that are sustainable in a remote work environment?
  • Do you trust that employees will perform well while working remotely?
  • Do your employees express that they prefer to work remotely? 
  • Do you have the technology to support remote work?

If you’ve determined that remote work is right for your organization (based on the answers to the above questions), then it’s time to set some ground rules.

For example, start by establishing clear remote work policies that: 

  • Communication protocols
  • Outline expectations
  • Task deadlines
  • Working hours

It’s also important to foster trust, build autonomy, and value results over physical presence.

After establishing a clear policy and expectations, your team will know the proper requirements for success. With regular communication and feedback, you can ensure everyone is on the same page and stays motivated to achieve shared goals.

2. Identify the Roles Needed 

Think about the goals you want your organization to reach and how your remotely distributed team will help you achieve those objectives.

You can start by identifying the skills and roles you need each remote team member to possess and fill. To do this, perform a workforce analysis:

  1. Evaluate the skill set of your existing team. Do they have the key traits and characteristics to make them successful as remote employees?
  2. Pinpoint existing skill gaps and define essential remote roles. What roles can workers perform remotely and independently? For example, a software developer, content writer/editor, customer support representative, or graphic designer.
  3. Consider factors like workload. Are your current employees experiencing burnout? If so, remote workers may help manage large workloads. 
  4. Analyze industry trends related to remote work and virtual collaboration. What factors drive other companies in your industry to build a remote team? Are you experiencing similar factors? If so, this can guide your hiring and recruitment process. 

When in doubt, conduct a climate survey. Based on the results, you may find a group of employees who tell you about their long commute to work. Or, many of your employees’ answers simply favor more flexibility. 

For help conducting climate surveys, here’s a sneak peek at a simple template: 

Employee climate survey template

(Image Source)

3. Create Detailed Job Descriptions

Based on the roles you’ve identified, create detailed job descriptions highlighting each role’s responsibilities. Always include the required qualifications and any specific remote working experiences or skills.

This step is crucial because no matter how qualified a candidate is, they may not be the best fit if they don’t have the skills necessary to be successful as a remote worker.

Here are other best practices to follow when creating remote job descriptions:

  • Use the right keywords. To attract remote talent, use relevant keywords like “work at home,” “work from home,” “distributed,” “work from anywhere,” “virtual,” and “home office.”
  • Clarify the location and define “remote.” While some remote jobs are 100% remote, others aren’t. Some companies require employees to report to the office several days a week. So, be specific. Also, if your company or office resides in a certain state, you might require candidates to live there. So, instead of saying “remote [job title]” in the job description, you might say “remote [job title] in [state].”
  • Describe the required equipment. Let candidates know up front what equipment they need to perform the job so that they can prepare. Specify whether they need a specific type of computer, internet speed, or virtual private network (VPN). 
  • Explain expectations for meetings. If you require meetings, let candidates know that attending them is mandatory.
  • Clearly define the working hours. Even though remote jobs offer some flexibility, it doesn’t mean employees can clock in and out whenever they want. So, if your staff must be “on the clock” during certain hours, make this as clear as possible. 

Need inspiration? Look at how uSERP outlines expectations for a fully remote role as Sr. SEO Specialist and includes the necessary keywords to attract the proper talent. 

Fully remote job description from uSERP with keywords and expectations

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4. Choose the Right Tools and Technology

Because remote teams typically don’t meet in person, your company will need the right tools to ensure everyone stays connected. Communication allows everyone to collaborate effectively and reinforces a strong remote team. 

Use collaboration and communication tools like:

  • Slack: To help remote teams stay connected, collaborate on projects, and create a sense of community
  • Zoom: For bringing teams together with face-to-face video interactions, screen sharing, chat, captioning, and more
  • Trello: For simplifying project management and staff collaboration with visual boards
  • Hubstaff: For time tracking, productivity monitoring, and people management. 
Fully remote job description from uSERP with keywords and expectations

Ensure your team has access to these tools and a reliable internet connection. Also, consider providing training to help them use the necessary software.

5. Implement an Effective Hiring Process

Many traditional hiring processes don’t adapt to remote ways of working. For example, interviews often take place in person. The same applies to assessments that gauge whether a candidate has the proper qualifications.

However, there are ways to adjust your hiring strategy to appeal to remote workers. For example, video interviews and virtual assessments are a great start.

During interviews, consider asking specific remote hiring questions. Questions should focus on time management and experience with remote collaboration tools.

Look for skilled candidates who exhibit qualities important for remote work, such as self-motivation, strong communication skills, and reliability.

The recruiting process isn’t a walk in the park. On average, it takes at least 36 days to fill a role (often longer). 

Graphic showing it takes on average 36 days to hire a new employee

(Image Source)

Consider streamlining the remote talent acquisition process with human capital management (HCM) software like SAP SuccessFactors Recruiting. 

These tools simplify the hiring process for remote talent and offer many benefits, from automated workflows to comprehensive analytics.

However, the extensive customization and feature options with SAP SuccessFactors may be difficult to understand for first-time users. 

That’s where the expertise of SAP consulting experts becomes invaluable. 

Beyond recruitment, these professionals can help you optimize SuccessFactors for employee training, fostering cloud collaboration, and more.

6. Onboard and Train New Team Members

Create a comprehensive remote onboarding program to welcome new hires and acquaint them with your company’s processes and culture.

Onboarding remote employees can be more challenging than onboarding on-site workers. This is especially true if your onboarding process will also occur virtually. That said, it’s just as essential to ensure the entire team can work together and communicate effectively.

Here are some tips for onboarding and training new team members:

  • Find a way to make new hires feel like part of the family (e.g., care package, orientation, team-building activities, etc.)
  • Set clear expectations by letting new hires know how their responsibilities fit into the company’s overall success.
  • Appoint someone to mentor and support new hires with questions about the culture.
  • Explain the company’s culture and how work gets done.
  • Set up technology training before the start date.

You might also consider integrating AI text-to-speech technology into your onboarding program.

This can make training materials more accessible, especially for visually impaired employees. It also allows team members to learn through audio, benefiting auditory learners.

Plus, you can use AI narrations for company policy documents, training manuals, and instructional videos to ensure all team members have equal access to important information. 

7. Establish Communication Rhythms

With limited in-person interactions, remote workers can lose touch and feel disconnected from what’s going on within the organization.

Having regular check-ins and team meetings is crucial for ensuring ongoing communication in successful remote teams. It’s also vital to encourage an open line of communication for feedback and support. 

Consider giving your distributed team a venue to talk about things that aren’t work-related by hosting virtual “water coolers.” 

These small details can help employees build stronger relationships and foster a sense of belonging when working remotely.

8. Set Clear Goals and Expectations

Remote teams must understand expectations from day one. But it’s easy for team members to misunderstand these expectations.

Here are some strategies to ensure everyone is on the same page at all times:

  • Use goal-setting frameworks like OKRs (Objectives and Key Results) to align team efforts with company objectives.
  • Establish clear communication channels (e.g., email, instant messaging tools, project management software, etc.)
  • Provide regular performance feedback and address areas for concern and improvement.
  • Establish work hours and availability (i.e., work schedules, breaks, time off, etc.).
  • Communicate performance expectations and deliverables.

Consider using a work-hour tracking and optimization tool like Hubstaff.

Hubstaff payroll integrations

9. Promote Team Collaboration and Engagement

Remote teams can’t be effective without collaboration. And to collaborate, employees need to feel engaged and connected to the work they do. 

You can use project management tools to track progress and collaborate efficiently. 

Screenshot of Hubstaff sprint management tool Hubstaff Tasks

But that’s not all. You can foster a collaborative environment through regular team meetings and virtual team-building activities. At uSERP, teams participated in a virtual empanada baking class.

Remote bonding uSERP empanada baking class

(Image Source)

10. Monitor and Evaluate Performance

To keep your remote team members on top of their game, implement performance metrics suitable for remote work. Regularly review these metrics to assess team performance and address any issues.

The metrics you choose will depend on your specific goals. If you’re concerned about productivity, work efficiency is a great metric. For collaboration, teamwork is an important key performance indicator (KPI). 

11. Provide Ongoing Support and Development Opportunities

Industries change, which means companies change. And that means team members should be able to keep up. 

This signals the need for continuous learning opportunities for skill development. 

And to keep remote employees engaged and dedicated to their work, encourage work-life balance, and support mental health and well-being. 

Mentorship programs, training programs, wellness programs, mental health resources, and employee recognition initiatives can give employees the motivation and help they need to continuously improve and stay healthy.

Taking care of your employee’s health and well-being is essential for reduced burnout and increased productivity. Unlike office jobs, remote jobs where you can’t bring an instructor into the office for a yoga class or HIIT session, it’s important to give your employees options to take care of themselves.

Telehealth services are excellent for remote employees. Access to resources like Form Health can help employees gain access to weight and food tracking tools, as well as online prescriptions for medications like Wegovy or Zepbound that’ll help them focus on their health.

These programs allow you to create a comprehensive wellness plan to keep your employees happy, healthy, and engaged in their roles within your organization. 

12. Iterate and Improve

You’ve heard the famous sales phrase “Always be closing.” When investing time and resources into remote team building, you should “Always be improving.”

Ensure you continuously gather feedback from your team on remote work processes and policies. Be open to making adjustments as needed to improve team efficiency and satisfaction.

Expert Insights and Real-World Examples

Lessons from Top Remote-Friendly Companies

Let’s look at real-world examples of companies with excellent remote teams.

GitLab: GitLab, a DevOps platform, operates an all-remote model with no central office. The company hosts virtual coffee chats to foster a sense of connection.

Sid Sijbrandij, GitLab - How to Build a Billion $ Company with Zero Offices

(Image Source)

uSERP: SEO agency uSERP prioritizes work-life balance and allows asynchronous communication to accommodate remote workers from different time zones. Doing so helped them grow 7x in three years.  

Zapier: Zapier, a workflow automation software company, has established a remote-first culture. This means remote work isn’t just an option. It’s the default mode of operation.

Frequently asked questions

How do you build a good remote team?

Establish transparent hiring and onboarding processes, promote team collaboration and engagement, and provide ongoing development and support opportunities within your company culture.

How do you build a connection in remote teams?

Host “virtual water cooler” chats, set up regular check-ins and use collaboration tools.

How do you empower remote employees?

Create clear expectations and deadlines, track projects, meet frequently, and recognize team members for their hard work. 

Key Takeaways

Set your remote team members up for success by establishing clear goals and expectations and empowering them with the right tools. Be proactive about performance management from day one when onboarding and training new hires.

And, of course, make sure you choose the right people for your remote team from the start. They should align closely with your company’s culture and goals.

For more insights, check out our PDF: The Definite Guide to Building a Remote Team.

Category: Remote