Before, when I told people that I had a 100% virtual remote team, they would say, “That’s cool!” like I was some computer geek on a different planet. Then the pandemic hit the world by storm and a lot of businesses had to pivot or re-evaluate their situation.
Having a virtual team used to be a hip thing; now, if you don’t have a virtual team, you’re losing money and even shut down by the powers that be if you are “non-essential.” Of course, the last time I checked, to an entrepreneur, our business is essential.
Here’s the truth: You can find useful, valuable people around the world, less the worry of requiring them to work at your office (if you even need one of those today). Having a virtual remote team allows you to create a future-proof business.
We live in a time where there’s hardly anything we can’t do virtually. The problem is that businesses have been forced to adapt quickly, and many don’t know how to hire a virtual team member, let alone staff an entire virtual remote team.
In this article, I’m going to share my most valuable lessons I’ve learned along the way building my now 100-plus virtual remote team (and many of them learned the hard way).
How to manage a virtual remote team member on the other side of the planet
I am sure you have heard The 4-Hour Workweek by Tim Ferriss. Great book, yes? When others finished reading it, they were like, “Wow, this is fantastic! I can sit on a hammock and let someone do everything for me!” Sorry, that’s not how it works. Tim Ferriss might have sold the dream, but it’s not practical.
Most business owners do not have their business in the right spot. They don’t even have procedures, albeit a job description or role of what a person should do. The first step you need to take is have proper standard operating procedures (I call them Freedom Recipes).
Prepare yourself before hiring your first virtual remote team member
I’ve created a method to help hundreds of entrepreneurs free themselves from their business. The trick is to separate your business and life into four columns. This is your Freedom Plan.
What are the repetitive things that you do in your business that are important but are not important that you do it? These could be going through emails, prospecting or posting in social media channels.
What are the challenging things that you are spending too much time on? Think of activities you are wasting time and money on because you’re trying to do it yourself instead of having someone who can do it better and faster. Common examples are building a funnel, running your advertisements, email automation, etc.
What are the things you should be doing but aren’t because you’re handling everything else? For me, this list was huge: social media, creating content, following up with clients, networking and even starting a podcast.
What’s the most valuable use of your time? Is it closing deals? Doing webinars? Building relationships? Being able to actually spend time with your family? Once you have these filled out, you’ll finally be able to determine what you should delegate first so that you are kept doing as much of the “valuable” activities as possible.
But, having a list of things to do isn’t all it takes.
Here’s how to build your virtual remote team to do it
Over the years, I’ve hired hundreds of virtual remote team members to get through the 120 that I have right now. Here’s a few tips you can apply, thanks to a decade of hiring mistakes before virtual remote teams were cool.
1. Don’t recruit people who are looking for a job
Instead, recruit people who have done amazing work, with vertical skills (a skillset which is very close to what you would like them to do), with at least two years experience.
We live in the Gig Economy. It’s fun and great, but it doesn’t produce repeatable excellence. If you hire someone from Fiverr or Upwork you can expect that you won’t be their only client. This means, long-term in the business they aren’t dedicated to your success.
2. “B-Players” know how to create “A-Player” resumes
To avoid having B-players in your business, do experiential interviews. At VA Staffer, our experiential interviews require a candidate to perform actual work that is in line with their role in the company.
3. Focus on performance of your virtual remote team members
Too often people ask me, “How do you know what your team is doing across the globe?” That’s a very easy question to answer when your team is judged by output and performance and shifted away from the time worked.
Many times, people envision a “work-from-home” team member sitting around in their pajamas, “hardly working.” If you don’t have key performance indicators for your virtual remote team members, it can be hard to track their production. Hold your virtual remote teams accountable, and check in with them often to review their performance.
4. Do job crafting
When building a virtual remote team, it’s important to understand their life goals. How could you align their goals with your company goals? With this proactive step, you can retain your virtual team members for the long haul knowing that their work at your company has meaning and also helps them reach their life goals.
As the FUBU CEO and Shark Tank judge Daymond John says, “Behind every great entrepreneur is an even greater team. As long as the relationship is mutually beneficial, only good things can come from reaching out to others for help and guidance.”
In today’s vulnerable business climate, it’s time to future-proof your business with a virtual remote team so it can withstand any global pandemic that may arise.