How to Ensure Success with Your Remote Work Team

If you’ve been trying to decide if you should transition your local work team to a virtual team, we believe the answer is yes. However, you need to be sure that you’ve fully prepared your team to work remotely and that your business is prepared to manage those remote teams. 

If you’re thinking about working with a company that uses a remote work team, be sure they’re not new to it. How long have they had a team working remotely and how cohesive do they feel?

The first place to start is with the people.

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In Good to Great, Jim Collins said that you should get the right people in the right seats. This is true for any team, not just remote teams. The people on your remote team need to be trustworthy, and then you need to trust them in return.

If you hire the right people, they will be self-directed. They’ll be go-getters. Don’t try to micromanage them. Instead, give them free rein to do the best job they can. Have clear expectations and guidelines, and allow your people to work to their full potential within those guidelines.

One of your jobs as a leader is to build culture. Hire people who have passion in what they do and then give them a sense of purpose. Encourage team bonding through informal communication, such as a chat room in your messaging app of choice. (We use Slack, but HipChat is another excellent alternative.)

Give your team the opportunity to build rapport. In-person time can build rapport quickly. Some teams work in person part of the week and virtually the rest. For example, at CWS, many of us work in the same office Monday through Thursday and then work remotely on Friday. If this isn’t possible, do what companies like Buffer do—get together at different locations around the world and spend time getting to know each other as a team.


After you’ve made sure you have the right people on your team, give them the right tools.

Most tools used for remote collaboration use the written word. People who have good writing skills make the process of working as a team much smoother. Of the five main tools we use to work collaboratively as a team, the first three require writing as the primary communication medium.

We use Slack for a significant part of our communication. We have rooms for each of our teams, such as dev, sales, content, etc. We also have a separate room to discuss attendance, which is very handy for knowing who has to run to what event and for how long. Our favorite room, however, is called the Virtual Hub and is where we talk about anything that is not necessarily work related. You could call it our virtual water cooler.

Google Drive is where we keep all of the files we work on collaboratively. It is especially handy for working on blog post drafts where several people can write or edit a file at the same time. We can look at previous revisions if necessary and even use the “Suggesting” editing mode where suggested changes are highlighted. Because Google Drive has a secure, hierarchical folder system, we can access documents, presentations, notes, and more from any location.

Gmail, via Google Apps, is our email client of choice. Most people are familiar with email and how that works so I won’t bore you to death with details. Gmail works smoothly and the smartphone app allows you to use your standard signature.

Google Calendar ensures that we arrive at our virtual meetings at the same time, no matter where in the world we are. For example, when I was in Arizona last week, Google Calendar adjusted my meeting times to reflect that Arizona doesn’t use Daylight Saving Time, so I needed to show up an extra hour early for my morning meetings. Who can keep track of that!

Zoom is our meeting software. Most of our meetings are held via video, which requires an Internet connection, but customers and employees can also call in with any phone. Video meetings help us connect with each other and allow us to share our computer screen, which is invaluable when an explanation or example requires visuals.  


A strong team with a healthy and innovative company culture will work great, whether they work remotely or not. A local  team will not work better than a remote team and location does not affect the end result.

As your company grows, you might find the need for offices in multiple cities or the need to take advantage of non-local and highly skilled people. Put the systems in place today that will ensure success tomorrow.

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