Remote workers are a growing trend in modern business, but an off-site team adds a layer of complexity to the age-old problem of keeping your staff both satisfied and productive. How do you keep telecommuters engaged when your team is physically separated? Even more important, how do you help your employees grow along with your company so you can keep them on board for the long haul?
At Formstack, we've achieved these feats by following a few core tenets. We've happy to share them with other small- and medium-sized businesses that rely heavily on remote employees and are looking to scale up in the near future.
1. Hire the right people.
We’ve invested in what we call the “Talent Team.” The Talent Team is probably overstaffed compared to other companies, but that’s because we believe in the importance of recruiting the right employees and fully integrating them into the team.
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Our robust hiring process aims to find people who will be a good fit for our company’s goals. For example, job applicants face a three-pronged evaluation during the final interview process. We seek to determine their compatibility with peers, the leadership team and our company culture as a whole. Candidates often have said although our recruiting process can take a bit of time, they appreciate how hard we work to determine if both parties are a good fit for each other.
After employees are hired, our Onboarding Specialist works with them for their first 90 days. It's a way to answer any questions and ensure our new team members clearly comprehend their duties. Finally, our Talent Team assists all employees with long-term career development and checks in with them regularly to make sure they are engaged and understand the direction forward.
2. Strengthen your company culture.
Of course, hiring the right people means nothing if you don’t have a positive company culture. Communication is such a critical component of culture that we've made "communicate status" one of our cultural values. This terminology might remind you of social-media status updates, and it should. In a fast-growing remote organization, team members must keep one another updated, sometimes even with low-value updates. Frequently communicating status through chat, phone and email helps keep us all running in the same direction.
We also want our team members to build lasting relationships. To this end, the Talent Team plans monthly and quarterly “Formstack Fun” events such as lip-sync competitions, holiday trivia and online multiplayer gaming sessions. Company-wide service initiatives reinforce this spirit of community. We participate in holiday toy and food drives, and remote employees can mail in their contributions.
3. Meet your remote employees’ unique needs.
If you want your remote employees to grow with your company, you need to support them in ways that combat their feelings of invisibility and cure cabin fever. We give our remote employees a monetary allowance they can use on items such as electronics, office supplies and coworking expenses. Anything that improves their work experience is a valid expense. Coworking spaces, in particular, can be helpful for remote workers who are feeling isolated. Be willing to pick up the tab to ease the burden on your employees.
Monthly all-team meetings help maintain open communication among all team members. After each meetings, employees receive a feedback form to share their thoughts on the format, information and other aspects. This helps our remote employees feel seen, heard and not forgotten.
You might not come up with the ideal strategy for developing remote talent on your first try, so be prepared to revise your methods until you find something that works well for your team. When you do, your culture and policies should keep your team members engaged and willing to work hard to grow the company.