Menu +

The Art of Managing Remote Workers

Written By Tina Martin

Are you getting burnt out running your business as a one-(wo)man show? Remote workers are an attractive option for first-time employers thanks to the low overhead costs and big talent pool that come with remote hiring. However, putting together a team of remote workers that actually works for your business is a different story.

How do you manage a team when everyone’s in a different place (and possibly a different time zone)? How do you ensure the right communication gets to everyone without too much communication getting to anyone? And how the heck do you build rapport and company culture virtually?

These are just a few of the questions that should be swirling around your mind as you prepare to hire a remote team. Here are some tips to consider when running a remote show.

Tip #1: Know the Rules for Remote Workers

It doesn’t matter if your employees work in an office or at home; they’re entitled to the same rights and benefits either way.

Where businesses get into trouble is differentiating employees and self-employed independent contractors. Contractors come with fewer costs and less paperwork, making them an attractive option for businesses on a budget. However, specific rules determine who can be paid as an independent contractor and costly penalties exist for companies that run afoul of those laws.

There are also special considerations for companies hiring remote workers outside their province or territory. In general, companies must abide by employment laws in the location where the employee resides.

Tip #2: Know the Legal Requirements to Hire Employees

That includes following the legal process to hire employees. In Canada, that means incorporating your business, registering with the Canada Revenue Agency, and following payroll requirements. U.S. employers can choose to form a corporation or limited liability company (LLC) before registering for an Employer Identification Number and obtaining the appropriate tax records and insurance. The US LLC has the same liability protections as the Canadian corporation but offers greater tax flexibility and simpler filing procedures.

Tip #3: Consider a Remote Work Policy

Is drafting a remote work policy really necessary when hiring a fully remote team? Yes! Remote work policies do more than say who’s allowed to work from home. A written policy also lays out rules regarding:

  • Employee expectations
  • Working hours
  • Cybersecurity
  • Equipment and software
  • Communication

Tip #4: Know Your Communication Policy

The communication policy may be the most critical piece of your remote employee handbook. Done wrong, remote team communication leads to information inequality, social disconnect, and lost productivity. Done right, it builds an agile, connected, and productive workforce.

Tip #5: Invest In the Employee Onboarding Process

The first step to solid remote communication is a good onboarding process. Training and technology tend to be the focus of employee onboarding, but giving staff a chance to meet each other and get acquainted with the company culture is just as important.

Tip #6: Establish Your Communication Method

You also need to establish communication norms. Remote teams use a variety of communication channels including video, email, and instant messenger. Knowing when to choose which option prevents unnecessary distraction while making information accessible to those who need it.

Real-time communication like phone calls, video meetings, and instant messenger is best for:

  • Team and project meetings
  • Urgent situations
  • Relationship building

However, real-time communication has a tendency to exclude workers in different time zones. It can also become a distraction. That’s where asynchronous communication comes in. Asynchronous communication includes email, newsletters, discussion threads, and project management apps, and it’s ideal for ongoing, non-urgent communication. When real-time communication is necessary, include employees in different time zones by distributing meeting minutes or recordings.

Tip #7: Build On Your Remote Culture of Collaboration

Good communication is the first step to a collaborative remote team, but it’s not enough to truly get your staff in sync. For that, you need culture.

Company culture is what makes employees want to work together to achieve a common goal. While company culture develops organically in a traditional office, it requires an intention to build a culture in a remote company.

That means taking time out for team-building activities and creating opportunities for meaningful interaction between employees. That may take the form of a mentorship program, a buddy system for employee onboarding, or virtual cocktail hours and a dedicated channel for “water cooler” conversation.

Culture is the foundation for effective collaboration, but remote employees still need tools to help them work together.

Apps to Consider for Collaboration

  • File sharing and editing
  • Task and workflow management
  • Project management
  • Scheduling
  • Time tracking


Tip #8: Have a Process for Conflict Resolution

Conflict is an inevitability in any workplace, remote or otherwise. However, it’s easier for disagreements to fester unnoticed in a remote environment.

The best thing managers can do when conflict arises is to address it quickly and directly using face-to-face communication like video chat. As for preventing conflict, it’s important to establish clear expectations, train your team in positive communication, and create a culture where people feel comfortable sharing their issues.

 Is conflict management taking up a lot of your time? It may be a sign you need to rethink communication standards or clarify roles and responsibilities in your team.

Tip #9: Consider Tracking Time

You’ve put together a team that communicates effectively and collaborates seamlessly. But how do you know who’s pulling their weight and who’s slacking on the job?

For the most part, the fears about remote workers’ productivity are unfounded: Most companies find that productivity stays the same or increases when employees work from home.

There are other reasons to track employees’ time, however. Time tracking provides transparency into who’s overworked versus who’s struggling to stick to priorities as well as data to support invoicing, budgeting, and employee self-management. So while time tracking might not make your employees more productive, it will make your business more efficient.

Don’t be fooled by the simplicity of hiring remote workers. Managing a team of remote workers requires just as much know-how — if not more — than keeping an eye on in-house staff. However, with the right tools, a savvy communication strategy, and a commitment to growing together, you can build a remote team that takes your business to new heights.

Find more content to drive your company’s success at the Art of Business Marketing Journal.

Don’t forget to visit Tina’s website for more tips on rocking your remote show at Ideaspired!


Follow The Art of Business at our social media handles to stay tuned for a chance to have YOUR blog featured and constant tips for managing your business.