How Remote Teams Work Together
By Mario Peshev
Working remotely is about mutual trust. It’s the same as assessing the security of your home, the reliability of your office job, or the viability of your relationship.
If you don’t care, you’ll lose. If you stress over it too much, something seems fishy and you may get burned again.
I am a proponent of remote working in theory. And I’ve managed to build a team comprised of 70% remote employees.
But I’ve also had to go over 5,500+ CVs and conduct over 1,000 interviews for the past 3 years. We’ve started 80 trials off those 1000 interviews and had to part ways with 30 within the first 2–3 months.
The Downfall of Remote Work
Companies like Yahoo and IBM have ended their remote work policy not long ago. Overseeing requires a specific mindset and a completely different management structure and workflow as compared to a local, centralized one.
Last year, Richard Laermer decided to let his employees work from home on a regular basis. “We hire adults, they shouldn’t be tied to the office five days a week,” said Laermer, who owns a New York-based public relations firm. “I always assumed that you can get your work done anywhere, as long as you actually get it done.”
Turns out, he was wrong.
Employees took advantage of the perk, Laermer said. One was unavailable for hours at a time. Another wouldn’t communicate with co-workers all day, which Laermer found suspicious. The last straw, he said, was when someone refused to come in for a meeting because she had plans to go to the Hamptons. “That was the most unbelievably nervy thing I’d heard in years,” he said.
Ten months in, he scrapped the benefit and now requires all of his employees to come into the office every day.
Truth to be told, we’ve been there as well. We’ve heard some incredibly weird stories that were so far-fetched that “the dog ate my homework” appeared to be entirely legit and logical in comparison.
It’s even embarrassing at times.
Reputation and Background Checks for Remote Teams
And since I’ve started with “trust”, the real problem comes with the lack of reputation in place.
- Good companies are hesitant to hire people with limited digital footprint and experience
- Experienced workers question the viability of a fairly unknown business online
Both of those make sense.
Ideally, everything should start with the hiring process. Asking for recommendations, hiring from a certain university or sponsoring an event would let you meet potential applicants directly and discuss an opportunity in an informal manner.
The interview itself should also cover some of the pressing problems for each party – such as communication, productivity, payment structure and terms, and the like.
There are plenty of scammers from each side of the table: