The Basics For Building Your Remote Team

5 min readJul 29, 2020

For better or for worse, nearly our entire world has been forced to figure out remote work. While we think it’s for the better, there’s still some resistance across the board — some of which is reasonable.

No matter where you are or what industry you inhabit, there’s a good chance you’re now thinking through the “how” question: how do I build my remote team?

You might even adjust the question to, “how do I build my remote team remotely?” After all, most people are now having to do all their hiring via Zoom or some other video conferencing software.

As a team and company that has always been remote, we’ve got very practical tips to help you in this process. These are the basics for building your remote team.

Order matters here.

1. Make Your Vision & Mission Crystal Clear

Your vision and mission drive everything your organization does. Or, they should at any rate.

Your vision is your why, your envisioned future. As Simon Sinek insightfully notes, too many people lead with their “what” when asked about their vision — the vision is matter of what their organization is doing.

Ideally, however, your vision should bring people to your why — the reason(s) your organization does what it does. It also describes your preferred future, where you want to be.

Your mission, on the other hand, typically sets out some more concrete objectives along with your plan to get their — call this your “how.”

Unless your organization has become crystal clear about the content of your vision and mission, you may wish to put the expansion of your remote team on hold.

Growing an organization whose vision and mission remain a mystery is a threat.

No need to inflict unnecessary pain on yourself (or others).

And to be clear, none of this is to say that your vision and mission can’t change. It’s typical for organizations, especially those in the start-up stages, to experience some movement on these points. That’s okay. We’re pushing clarity, not that your vision or mission remain in stone forever.

Assuming you’ve got your vision and mission down, what next?

2. Identify Your Biggest Problems

Successful organizations exist to solve problems. Really successful organizations solve really big problems.

Before casting your internet-based hiring net wide, identify your organization’s biggest problems. The reason you’re hiring in the first place is because you’ve got some problems that need solving with no one on your team to solve them.

But are they really your organization’s biggest problems? Or, after some thought, are they second- or third-order problems — problems that could realistically go unsolved for a little more time?

The difference between urgent and important is crucial.

Every organization has problems that need solving. Not all problems are alike, however.

Some are urgent and important, while others are important but not urgent.

Drawing on the Eisenhower matrix, divide up your organization’s problems. Problems that are urgent and important always get priority.

Problems that are not urgent but important will always be at odds with problems that are urgent but not important.

Deciding which to act on, which to solve, takes discernment. You’ll make some errors learning how to distinguish the two, no doubt, but that’s part of the process.

What we’re trying to stress in all this is to learn the art of identifying your biggest problems. Building a remote team with this skill will make all the difference.

Let’s suppose your next step in the building process is to onboard a new team member. Here’s our suggestion.

3. Start From Within, Then Go Outside

Ready to hire with your biggest problems now clearly identified? Start the process by looking inward.

Building a remote team (and sustaining a remote team remotely) has enough difficulty on its own. A hiring process, you will soon discover, ramps that difficulty up to the next level.

A lot of that difficulty can be mitigated by surveying your internal resources. It might be that you’ve got members who are capable and ready to solve your biggest problems for a little extra income or some other incentive, and at no major cost to your team.

Heck, in some cases, you might even find that a team member is willing to take on the extra work or project as part of their normal responsibilities. If this is the case, you should still find a way to thank them and remind them of their value to your organization.

(The quickest way to lose a great team member is by neglecting to make them feel valued.)

The need to expand always comes in response to problems that are going unsolved. When that time comes, start internally.

There’s something else, though, that you ought to do during this stage of the building process.

4. Commit To A Group Process

This is a point for key leadership.

We all have blindspots and biases. The easiest way to hinder the building of your remote team is to hire by yourself. Without a doubt, your blindspots and biases will impact the process — and it often happens not for the good.

We know that some organizations don’t have the luxury of committing to a group process for hiring. So, this point is for the organizations that do, the organizations who have multiple people in their key leadership.

Hire as a team, even if it only includes you and one other person.

This gives you the opportunity to discuss your candidates together. You can hold each other accountable to blindspots and biases that may arise.

Best of all, if the hire turns out not to be a good fit, there’s collective responsibility.

Committing to a group process for this stage of the building usually has the positive result of hiring the right person, though it’s not completely fail-proof.

When building your remote team, hire as a team. Make the video call a group call. Do it together. The advantages are yours for the taking.

5. Over-Communicate To Your Team

Last but still incredibly important: over-communicate to your team.

Your team is remote, your building process is remote. This means you and your team do not enjoy the random walk-by moments in the office, no quick stop-ins in one another’s office.

Consequently, need-to-know information falls through the cracks much more easily. Another consequence is that we don’t often hear how everyone is doing.

These two results can by themselves derail any progress an organization is making.

The solution? Communicate till you can’t communicate anymore. People will get annoyed; it’s okay. The gains here far outweigh the losses. And in the end, everyone wins. Even the annoyed person.

If you’re looking for a platform that can help you manage both your hiring process and internal team communication, we’ve got one for you. It’s called Univa.


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