5 Tips for Entrepreneurs on How to Work Effectively with a Remote Team

By Aleksandra (Ola) Mackiewicz
laptop with a mug next to it on a zoom call

Coronavirus has caused remote work to become much more common in a very short period of time, meaning every business owner must do their best to adapt. If there’s ever been a time to focus on making change happen within your organization, it’s now. Networking virtually has become standard practice across the board due to the rapid on-set of the COVID era. This ‘new norm’ doesn’t have to be all bad for business. It can be understood as a fresh form of freedom and flexibility in our work styles一which is awesome一 if you know how to rock it. The long-anticipated change to remote work operations wherever possible has finally happened, but many were not prepared because the switch occurred quite quickly. Forbes has recognized the COVID-19 pandemic as a black swan event, which has caused our global economy to engage in a full-throttle adaptation of next-generation technology. Forbes has been very forthcoming in listing a wide range of businesses and industries affected. From the explosion of telehealth, to the almost-overnight educational system transformation to fully digital operations, the causal waves have rippled across the planet; businesses across the globe are scrambling to adapt to the now immediate need for digital transformation. Despite all these rapid changes, maintaining work-life balance is just as important as it’s ever been for your team’s health and mental wellness. It can be easy to slip into bad routines; there can also be a positive outcome if you can create and enjoy a healthy balance yourself as a business owner. Leading by example has long been the best way to positively influence others around you.

Do Your Best to Stick to a Schedule, but Allow For Flexibility

It can be easy to blur the lines between work and personal life when you’re at home all day long. One of the keys to maintaining balance is to stay conscious about how many hours you’re working. It’s also important to note when you are the most productive, and incorporating those times when setting your schedule. Remote work is about trust, reliability, organization and self-discipline. These character traits will help you maintain a healthier balance- while still keeping your team happy with deliverables.

Communicate with your team.

Part of being able to work from home means you are being trusted by your team. Micro-managers are probably biting their nails during the pandemic, as it’s hard to keep track of everyone from a distance. The key here is maintaining a healthy amount of communication with your colleagues. HR organizations suggest managers to not hound others, or set unrealistic expectations for timelines or workloads; increased amounts of pressure leads to anxiety – the opposite of a healthy work-life balance. Not to mention this type of work-related pressure is unlikely to lead to a more productive remote team. Remember, good communication builds trust, which in turn helps every team member maintain a healthier work-life balance.

Hire Someone You Can Trust

Sometimes we get carried away with too much work, and sometimes it’s too little. At the end of the day, we all have deliverables: Tasks that just need to be finished, and they’re our responsibility. Simply put, employers must build trusting relationships with their employees. Take your time hiring candidates, whether you’re a start-up or mid-sized business, that doesn’t matter. If you don’t have an HR department, do some research. Venture for Canada (VFC) offers interns to growing businesses, and this can even come along with wage subsidies to boost your business even more. Our national charity also recruits a select amount of candidates for the VFC Fellowship program; these young Canadians are well-trained and ready to hit the ground running, particularly in a scaling startup environment. VFC takes quite some time to sift through applicants to our programs- we are one pathway for you as an entrepreneur to use to find new, awesome, and trustworthy employees.

Encourage Taking Breaks!

Following a study done by DeskTime on 5.5 million daily records of how office workers use their computers, it was discovered that the top 10% most productive employees worked an average of 52 minutes before taking a 17 minute break. It’s important to be productive and focused, but in order to do so, the team must remember to take breaks throughout the day. If it helps, mark your own breaks in your schedule. This could encourage the team to remember to at least stretch on a regular time schedule. Step outside, take a walk, have a healthy meal, make a warm or cold drink – something relaxing. Encourage them to figure out their personal transition style; be open about what behaviors and habits help you transition to and from a focused-on-work mindset. There are many more benefits to taking regular breaks (and making the most of them!) to productivity levels and our cognitive capability to remain focused. Our personal health is deeply affected by sitting around for 8 hours straight. Health experts at Mayo Clinic suggest taking a physical break from sitting every 30 minutes. It can affect our eyesight among many other health issues, as research has shown in studies conducted by Harvard Medical School. It also negatively affects our spines and posture, which can get much worse over a prolonged period of the same body positioning. Ultimately, we all could use regular breaks. Reduce anxiety, stress, improve physical ailments and increase productivity- it just makes sense, doesn’t it? Keep these health facts, as well as productivity facts, in the forefront of your entrepreneurial mind when leading your team forward into the foggy clouds of the post-pandemic future.

Encourage Your Colleagues and Employees to Make Plans for Their After-Work Hours

It can be super helpful for their work-life balance for people to make plans for their personal time. It gives them something to look forward to, and it shows you care about their time. Lead by example- take on a side-project; learn new skills, study new software, build a patio – whatever works for you. If they have something they need to do, they’re more likely to sign off and stop working. To be productive, they need to be happy. Sometimes employees can be unsure of the company culture, and this can be even harder to depict from a distance. As a leader, you must show them that you want to build positive relationships- ‘chatting by the cooler’ for a bit is a great way to do that!

Keep Your Own Stress Levels Low

Business owners and entrepreneurs have always been scrambling around, often working very long hours, and becoming stressed out- and this was before the pandemic. With the massive changeover to digital operations, it can get even more hectic. Remember, health comes first, and you can’t help others if you don’t care for yourself. Set an example, and try to be a role model, because that’s what the best of team leaders do. Engage in fun activities that bring you enjoyment as well!

Don’t miss your chance to join the Venture for Canada Community! Check us out online @Venture4Canada #VFCCommunity