It cannot be overstated how integral your choice of employees is to the success of your business. The team of professionals you invite to contribute to your endeavors not only undertake the required day-to-day duties, they also have the potential to offer talent and ideas that could spur innovations that you might not have otherwise been able to implement.
This is no less the case in our digital age. Advanced technology has prompted our working practices to evolve, including the practicality of remote work. One of the huge upsides to employing a team spread across the globe is the potential to benefit from diversity — and as business owners, this gives us access to a worldwide talent pool, unrestricted by the physical location of our offices.
Building a strong team in the digital age
However, there are also plenty of challenges when it comes to digital team building. Traditional frameworks that support team building can be absent in online spaces, and as with any introduction of new technology or processes into business, we must put time and energy into preparing staff to thrive.
So what are the best approaches to building a strong and stable team in the digital age? What issues can we predict, and how can we bolster our businesses for success?
When it comes to your hunt for members of your digital team, the hiring process can be a little more challenging. If you’re inviting applications from across the globe, there likely isn’t any scope for an in-person interview — which can be a valuable opportunity to make a connection with potential employees.
However, that doesn’t mean that there aren’t other discovery methods that benefit from our digital landscape.
One of the most difficult aspects of any hiring process is finding and attracting the most qualified candidates — not only from a strictly technical perspective, but also with the personality and drive to fit your ambitious team.
Thankfully, data analytics is emerging as a useful tool for transforming the hiring process. By reviewing information collected through application searches, you can not only improve the quality of candidates you spend time reviewing, but you can also keep track of the most effective recruitment sources, predict potential employee performance, and even start to understand your future recruitment needs before you even cross that bridge.
When it comes to remote teams, it can also be key to establish a face-to-face relationship by conducting an interview via a video calling platform. After all, one of the many challenges that remote teams face is building a rapport that engenders ongoing trust and loyalty. By making this seemingly small, but nonetheless important step early on, you can put in the groundwork for constructing a valuable connection.
Training and onboarding
Your employees’ first days with your business can be vital. It is during this time that you establish expectations, introduce company culture, and build an early camaraderie, which is why extra care should be taken to implement an effective remote onboarding process.
From a basic paperwork perspective, there are now online platforms that guide new employees through each step of the essential initial HR requirements. Between prompting signatures during contract completion and highlighting important aspects of the employee handbook, these platforms can often also include personalized messaging for each individual new hire depending on their specific needs.
For the most part, remote employees may already be skilled in the core aspects of their duties, but making certain that your digital team remains strong also means not neglecting both initial and ongoing training. As soon as possible, and at regular intervals, a training analysis should be undertaken. This helps to identify areas for improvement and opens the door to offering potentially useful mentorship to remote workers.
When it comes to delivering training, even in physical locations, educational technology (EdTech) platforms are proving to be popular and effective choices. These are especially ideal options for members of a remote workforce, and helps to play into the fact that most employees are already comfortable working with technology.
As the shape of our workforce changes, it is important to understand how training needs to develop in line with an increasingly digital landscape. Edtech platforms are not only accessible remotely, but they also provide a variety of approaches — from video lectures, to quizzes and even simulations.
Teamwork and leadership
One of the most difficult aspects of duplicating a physical environment in digital spaces is duplicating that feeling of teamwork. Workers who operate in the same space every day have ample opportunities to build rapport and strengthen their place as a member of a team. It is important to take steps to rectify this deficiency in your remote workspaces as well, in order to make sure that collaborations can thrive even when workers are on opposite sides of the planet.
Collaboration hubs such as Slack, Asana, Trello, and Teamwork are great for keeping each employee on the same page during projects, and even allows them to communicate in a friendly, casual way to break up the serious issues of the day.
Particularly in the case of e-commerce teams, it is also important to understand how each member fits into the overall shape of the business. You’ll spend time filling teams with flexible, talented employees for each specific role. Online communication tools can help each remote worker see where they fit in, and how their role is affected by those of their remote co-workers.
As with any team, the right leadership is vital. There is an added challenge in digital spaces, in that leaders need to understand how to inspire while not being physically present with each member. Remote leaders need to put effort into building team morale regularly, as well as checking in with video or voice calls regularly so that workers don’t feel as though they are being ignored. It is also important to adopt methods that balance the appropriate amount of project attention while avoiding micromanagement.
The digital age isn’t on the way, it’s already upon us. As such, businesses have the opportunity to benefit from technological advances and a remote, diverse talent pool. However, business leaders must always be cognizant of how they can compensate for the loss of advantages found in physical teams. It can take extra effort and investment, but this is the price of a potentially innovative remote workforce.
Dan Matthews is a writer with a degree in English from Boise State University. He has extensive experience writing online at the intersection of tech, marketing, lifestyle, and culture.