Virtual Teams for Small Businesses: How to Assemble and Manage Them

Remote work has quickly become the new normal amidst COVID-19, and it’s probably not phasing out anytime soon. While remote work certainly has its drawbacks, many employees and employers have noted benefits such as improved work performance, work-life balance, and employee retention. Plus, many small businesses are actually saving money by allowing employees to work from home—including savings on taxes, food and beverages, rent and utilities, and cleaning service bills.

Whether you’re preparing to launch a home-based business or you’re ready to outsource some of your work to one or more remote employees or contractors, these tips from HBL Resources will help you to assemble, hire, and manage a remote team for long-term business success. 

Identify Your Hiring Needs

Before you can begin to interview and screen applicants, it’s important to identify your hiring needs. Are you looking to hire contractors or would regular employees be best for your company? Which types of projects and services do you need help with? 

Depending on your specific business needs, you may wish to recruit remote workers to help with things such as digital marketing, writing or blogging, and bookkeeping or accounting. Digital marketing services, for instance, are especially important if you’re running an online business—as these types of professionals can help you to reach your target audience through email newsletters, content and social media marketing, search engine optimization (SEO), and other highly effective marketing strategies. 

But whether you need email marketing services, customer support, or help with finance and accounting, online job platforms will connect you to the right candidates for the job. Before hiring a worker for your project, you can weigh freelancer reviews, rates, and estimated delivery times—and contact candidates directly through the job platform.

Interview and Screen Potential Candidates

Assembling a team of workers may seem daunting when you won’t be meeting each candidate in person, but there are several different ways to interview and screen your applicants before making an informed hiring decision. To conduct virtual job interviews, for instance, you can use video conferencing software such as Microsoft Teams, Google Meet, Zoom, or Skype for Business. Or as an alternative to conducting interviews, you could assess each candidate’s professional portfolio, administer online aptitude or psychometric tests, or assign test projects. 

After finding qualified candidates, there are a couple of steps you can take to screen them before making any hiring decisions. Start by checking their professional references and conducting an employee background check. You’ll need to comply with the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) when conducting background checks, as well as your state’s background check laws. In some states, conditional job offers must be made before background checks may be ordered. Under state laws and the FCRA, other requirements may include:

  • Informing applicants of your intent to run an employment background check. 
  • Letting applicants know that the results of their background check may influence your decision to hire them.
  • Gathering information as far back as seven years. 

After you’ve made the decision to hire new employees or contractors, you’ll need to onboard them virtually. Fadeke Adegbuyi of Doist offers some tips on how to onboard virtual team members as successfully as possible. 

Manage Virtual Teams

Once you’ve assembled and onboarded your remote workers, a multitude of different tech tools can help you to manage your new team from afar. From video conferencing to online collaboration software to task management, these remote work technologies can help you to better manage, lead, communicate, and collaborate with your team. 

You should also make sure that you're tracking employees' time efficiently so that everyone is paid accurately and on time. With time tracking software, you can easily keep track of billable hours, and it’s a quick way for employees to note down their start and stop times. You can also set automatic clock-in and -out reminders for your employees and even sync the timesheet data with software that handles payroll and invoicing. You can also use a third-party app to authenticate bank account information for your employees. This will ensure they get paid promptly.

Managing a remote team takes some adjusting, but following these simple tips will help you recognize the particular strengths of each employee. As with most things, practice makes perfect. The more you can learn about interacting with and leading your virtual employees, the more successful your remote team will be. 

This article is brought to you by HBL Resources, providing Human Resource Consulting, On-site and Off-Site HR Administration Services and Leadership Development Training for individuals and organizations seeking ways to Improve Performance through Engagement. For more information, please contact us today!