What’s the Secret to Managing Digital Nomads and Remote Teams?

For businesses that want access to the best marketing talent, it’s nearly impossible to look past freelancers and digital nomads. But learning how to manage them efficiently can prove to be a significant challenge.

For businesses that want access to the best marketing talent, it’s nearly impossible to look past freelancers and digital nomads. But learning how to manage them efficiently can prove to be a significant challenge.

Who Are the Digital Nomads?

If you’re a business owner or CEO, you better get used to working with digital nomads and remote workers. Studies suggest that more than half of the workforce will work in a freelance capacity by 2020. And if you’re operating in a digital industry like marketing, that percentage will likely be much higher.

But before you can manage these remote workers, you need to understand who they are, how they think, and what sort of management styles and structures they respond well to.

According to HubSpot, “Digital nomads are remote workers who usually travel to different locations. They often work in coffee shops, co-working spaces, or public libraries, relying on devices with wireless internet capabilities like smart phones and mobile hotspots to do their work wherever they want.”

The average digital nomad is a Millennial between the ages of 22-35 who is tech-savvy and in hot pursuit of optimal work-life balance. In fact, scheduling flexibility is often more important than salary. They want the ability to live life on their terms, rather than being chained to a desk for 40 or 50-plus hours a week.

4 Management Tips

Some of the most talented people in today’s workforce are freelancers and digital nomads. And if you want to reach these people, you must be able to manage them well. So, without further ado, here are some techniques and strategies you may find helpful:

1. Hire the Right People

You’ll do yourself a huge favor by adopting a meticulous approach to hiring. In fact, you’ll make or break your ability to successfully manage digital nomads by how and whom you hire.

In the search process, look for candidates who possess high levels of self-discipline and motivation. Speak with past employers and clients to see how well a candidate adheres to deadlines. You’ll also want to consider how responsive a candidate is.

2. Set Clear Priorities

There shouldn’t be any question about what’s expected of your team. Whether an individual spends part of the time in the office or operates remotely on a full-time basis, they should understand exactly what your priorities are for their time, effort, and responsibilities.

For example, do you expect team members to be available during certain hours? Are there mandatory meetings that require attendance? Is there a certain approval process for requesting time off or extending the deadline on a project? These aren’t questions you want to answer on the fly. It’s best to have them established ahead of time.

3. Stay in Touch

When managing remote employees, communication is supremely important. Stay in touch with your team and don’t let distance create separation in how you work. There are lots of free and/or cost-effective tools to make remote communication seamless. Learn what works for your team and utilize them!

“Instant messaging tools can be more efficient than email for quick questions. However, if there is a complex problem, it is worth bringing relevant freelancers into the office to talk through the challenge together,” entrepreneur Peter Johnston writes. “If they are based abroad, this would be the time for a phone call or video conference.”

4. Be Transparent

One of the more challenging aspects of managing a remote team is helping them feel connected to the business. There’s no office or water cooler to gather around, which means employees and contractors can feel isolated.

One of the top ways to enhance the corporate culture and identity within the company is to be transparent with your leadership. Let your team know what’s happening and allow them to suffer through challenging times and celebrate big wins. Keeping everyone in the loop will strengthen the trust your team has in you as a leader.

Don’t Lose Control

If you’re going to work with digital nomads, freelancers, and remote employees, you have to be cognizant of how you’re managing them. You don’t want to micro-manage, but there’s danger in not keeping a close enough eye on what they’re doing. It’s imperative that you establish some structures and parameters so you don’t lose control.