Managing a remote workforce is simple, writes Hometime co-founder William Crock


Hometime co-founder and chief executive officer William Crock. Source: Supplied.

Remote working isn’t a particularly new concept, in fact, it has been around for decades. Since the birth of the internet in the 1980s, large international corporations have adapted remote working models into their business structure. While the initial uptake was slow as organisations feared this change, we are now witnessing the first cultural paradigm shift towards the concept of remote working. With the recent announcement that Atlassian will decentralise its Sydney HQ in response to constraints on talent and infrastructure, it’s clear traditional business models are just not cutting it when it comes to attracting and maintaining top talent.

Remote working shouldn’t be a concept that focuses on where employees work, but rather, on how they work. Allowing employees to work outside the traditional office environment gives each individual the opportunity to structure each working day in a way that makes the most sense to them. Not only does this create stronger loyalty and employee engagement within a team, but it also opens the organisation up to a vast and varied pool of talent.

People are different than they were 30 years ago. People are consuming news differently, and technology has changed the way they see the world and how they socialise in it. In addition to this, the way they work is constantly evolving. Modern businesses must empower their employees to get the job done, regardless of the environment in which they choose to work.

Attracting the talent

Talent is independent of geographic region and sourcing remotely removes this constraint, opening up a vast talent pool. In the tech industry especially, there has been a strain on talent due to rapidly increasing demand and recent changes to Australian working visas. Remote working allows organisations to implement a model where they can target talent and not be restricted by external factors.

By allowing talent to work in an environment that is suitable to them, it allows you to access a plethora of engaged and loyal talent, wherever they may be, and ultimately enable higher satisfaction with their work-life balance.

Finding flexibility

At Hometime, we have been operating a remote workforce since our launch in 2016, and the results for the company have been unsurpassed. While working with more than 100 staff in five different time zones may be perceived as a barrier in communication, our staff have the ability to work the hours in the environments that feel most productive to them.

Due to this flexibility, our employee base can successfully operate a 24/7 service business from the cloud. It also allows them to pick and choose when and where they feel most creative; whether that’s in an independent coffee house or from one of the many collaborative co-working spaces dotted across the country.

The benefit of these coworking spaces is they act as a hub for networking, productivity and a chance to meet others from different industries who may provide invaluable insights and assets. Some of our employees even choose to take their work on the road with them, as they hop from country to country and explore their own creativity on a global level.

When problems arise

Like with any business, meetings and face-to-face discussions need to take place every now and then. But with a comprehensive and solid planning schedule in place, most organisations should be able to slot this into their team planning structure easily. In addition to face-to-face meetings, there are also a number of options for organisations to implement digital conferencing. With the ease of video conferencing and instant messaging creates a new mechanism in which to have larger group meetings.

Another hurdle that may be challenging for organisations who wish to adopt remote working is loneliness. While remote working may be an ideal situation for most of your workforce, remote working isn’t for everybody, and it’s important for organisations to be conscious of their staff’s social needs. Some members of the team may need to work in a more collaborative environment, or simply need regular check-ins for reassurance and confidence building. It’s imperative each team member feels confident in their role and feels part of the wider team. If you don’t have this with your employees, it’s never going to work.

Making the transition

Making the transition to remote working isn’t as difficult as it appears. In theory, it just takes a few simple steps. It goes without saying the first thing that needs to happen is equipping each team member with adequate technology to be able to work remotely. No one can be expected to join a Google Hangout if their computer’s software was outdated six years ago! Another rule of thumb is creating a sense of discipline within the team. As team members will effectively be ‘their own boss’ when working remotely, it’s important to give them a sense of freedom and flexibility, yet also ensure that deadlines are being met. Set regular update deadlines and create a system where you can track and monitor productivity across the wider team.

Finally, it’s important to never lose sight you are a team. While they may not be sitting in front of you, teams need guidance, structure and a clear set of objectives. Remote teams do need to be completely sure and aware of what their roles and objectives are, so the entire team is working towards a common goal.

Now is the time to make the move. Progressive businesses refuse to be held back by traditional norms and old habits. Modern organisations need to shift in the direction of growth and recognise the world and business as we know it is changing and is moving on.

One of the biggest take-outs and learnings of remote working is clear goal setting and evaluation breeds trust which is the most essential ingredient. By distilling an ethos of trust, respect and performance, employees are free to work on their own terms. Moreover, they have the authority to own their day and work when most creative and effective, which enables them to excel, and ultimately sets a startup apart from market competitors.

NOW READ: “We’re going to go hard”: Property management startup Hometime primes for capital raise after seeing 750% growth in 18 months

NOW READ: “Survive, learn, grow”: Three lessons on innovation from remote business owners in the Northern Territory


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