What It Takes to Run a Successful Remote Team


The advantages of running a remote team are rather obvious – you save on office space, greater flexibility for your employees – and most importantly, you can hire people from all over the world, not just your hometown. The folks over at Zapier are a great example; even though the founders lived in the same city, their schedules never seemed to align enough for them to work from the same space at the same time, so going remote was basically a necessity.

When they realized that they could make it work, over the next few years they hired more than twenty people, all from different cities and locations and are still making it work. Handling a team remotely isn’t necessarily easy, though, and there are a few guidelines that you can follow to increase your chances of success.

Trusting Your Employees

According to Wade Foster at Zapier, when hiring employees that are supposed to work remotely you need to know that you’ve hired someone that you can trust to get the job done. The downside of this is that it’s up to you as an employer to show trust in those that you’ve hired.

Since you don’t have any way to actually supervise your employees, the best way you can do this is to simply make your expectations clear, and see if they can follow through on them. Make use of concrete deadlines because without them there’s no sense of urgency, and therefore no way you can gauge how committed your employees actually are and whether you can trust them to get something done on time.

Utilizing Software Tools

Remote teams are possible because of advanced software technology. Therefore, it makes perfect sense to utilize technology as much as you can to make handling a remote team as easy and efficient as possible, for both your employees and yourself.

First of all, real-time communication is a must. E-mail just doesn’t cut it when you need to actually exchange information at the speed that being physically present with the other person can allow you to. However, with a good communication app such as Slack, it can get pretty close, and many remote teams (Buffer, for example) use it for basically all their remote communication needs.

An app that helps with time tracking can be really useful as well. When working from a home environment, we’re free from the pressure of being seen while slacking off, and so even when we’re trying not to, we allow ourselves to check our Facebook feed a few times when we should really be working. Time tracking can be a great insight into how much time your employees actually spend working on something, and how much time they’re potentially wasting while doing so.



There’s a lot of controversy around remote teams and whether they’re even a viable alternative to an actual office space, and the only honest answer to whether they are or aren’t is – it depends. It depends on the people you hire, on how well-versed you are with technology and, of course, it depends on the type of business you’re running. But the good news is that some of these factors are something you can actually influence and control, and as you can see, many teams around the world have made it work and are still making it work. If you think remote is the way to go, the only way to find out for sure is to try it and heed the advice of those who’ve already done so in the past.

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