How to Run a Highly Effective Remote Team

It’s All About Keeping Distant Teams Closely Connected to Mission, Culture, and Each Other

Not long ago, “working at-home” and other remote working arrangements were rare perks, bestowed only on those few senior or in-demand workers who were considered productive – and trustworthy – enough to deserve it.

But by 2010, the tides had changed. Remote teams were part of most large, growing organizations. Working remotely was working well! Employees were more productive. They also self-reported better work-life balance, higher career satisfaction and greater overall happiness.

So it came as quite a shock when IBM, the tech giant that had helped pioneer remote working, announced that they were calling their remote workers back to the office.

That was in 2017. If, in these past two years, there were questions or lingering doubts about the effectiveness or viability of remote working, the results are in.

Simply put, remote work teams are here to stay. (Even IBM’s “big” change ended up affecting a mere 2% of its workforce.)

That said, there have been many lessons learned along the way. We’ve seen what works, what works better, and what doesn’t. Some of those lessons are unique to my industry: outsource customer contact and care.

But some of them are universal. Here are my top 5 Lessons Learned on Running Highly Effective Remote Teams.

Going Remote Grows Your Talent Pool Exponentially

Today’s low unemployment rates have made it nearly impossible to find top talent within most geographically limited areas. Recruiting for the office building automatically limits your talent pool to your own backyard. Enough qualified candidates are either already there – or you’ll need to convince them to relocate. No matter where your headquarters is located, your options expand when you’re able to recruit anywhere in the country.

You’re Hiring for a Different Competency Mix

If you’re thinking of migrating an existing team to remote work, it’s important to keep in mind that working from home calls upon different skills and capabilities. To be successful, members of your remote team need to be digital natives – or total digital adopters – eager to learn new tech as it comes along and capable of embracing digital tools to collaborate and work efficiently. Successful remote workers must also be self-starters, ready to work without anyone there to look over their shoulder – and totally okay with being the only person physically in the room.

It Requires Commitment, Investment, and Serious Preparation

You might think that accommodating one employee’s request to work from home is no biggie. You’d be right. But that’s a far cry from recruiting an entire team, onboarding, training, monitoring, coaching, and retaining them. Before you commit, be sure you scope out what it will take to go remote and succeed. Your HR team should take the lead on redefining jobs, titles, and hiring practices. Technology investments must be scoped. New processes must be created for training, coaching, collaborating, celebrating, and compliance documentation.

Remote Work Boosts Employee Retention

By now, there are plenty of stats to confirm that remote work teams are more highly skilled, more productive, and turn in higher quality work. But they’re also happier, and therefore more loyal, driving up employee retention. A recent study by Tiny Pulse shows that remote workers are happier than their non-remote counterparts. That certainly matches what we see here at Skybridge Americas.

Great Coaches Build Great Teams: It’s All About Your Supervisors

You can’t sustain high performance without a strong, remote-ready supervisory staff. These are the individuals who, like the employees they’ll be leading, must be digital denizens. But they also need to be strong, positive role models, capable of goal setting, work directing, monitoring, and cheering on each remote member of their department. Beyond that, they need to be masters of multiple communications systems and apps, clearly conveying your company’s culture without the luxury of being face-to-face. Maintaining a solid sense of belonging is more challenging for remote teams. But a highly talented supervisor stays in touch, notices the earliest signs of detaching, and continuously motivates and rewards their team to higher performance.

At Skybridge Americas, we specialize in building world class customer care teams and are leading experts in remote work teams. If you’d like to improve your inbound customer care operation, please reach out. We’d love to talk about how we can help you meet your business goals!


by Bobby Matthews
Senior Vice President, Sales and Marketing
Skybridge Americas


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