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Here’s how to manage remote teams for your startup

The world is one big global village, and with that comes the concept of remote working teams who are not limited by time or distance.

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Here’s how to manage remote teams for your startup

Thanks to the internet, we can aptly describe the world we live in today as one big global village, and with that comes the concept of remote working teams who are not limited by time or distance. We have come to accept the fact that it is possible to have 6 people from 6 different continents working on a single project and doing it so effectively that it would not make much of a difference if it was done by an in-house team all working from one location.

However, the advent of virtual teams has brought with it the dilemma of not only recruiting the right sort of individuals but getting them to commit fully to the project—a necessary ingredient for attaining productivity and efficiency. To help you navigate this terrain, here are a few tips that will help your remote teams grow to be more productive and well-coordinated:

Set clear expectations

Everyone has a different idea of what doing something “quickly” or “well” means. Whether showing examples of what you expect to be done, calendar sharing, etc., make sure you have clear expectations from those you work with online. The more prepared they are, the better they can serve.

CBN Entrepreneur loan, 7 Tips for Financing Your New Business, SMEDAN invests N103.5 million in Sokoto entrepreneurs  

You should set clear expectations for:

  • Work hours
  • Availability
  • Communication system
  • Timely meetings
  • Key projects and deadlines
  • Scheduled meetings
  • Response to email

Trust your team and manage expectations

Sometimes, businesses are not willing to embrace a remote workforce because there’s uncertainty about whether or not the work will get completed at the same level as if they were in the office. To combat this belief, set up work-from-home guidelines, such as emails must be responded to within 24 hours, use text for urgent matters, and no calls between certain hours to make sure teammates are not working around the clock. Make sure your team is familiar with turnaround times, communication protocols and any other limitations or costs related to scope.

Make it feel inclusive

Too often, it is easy to just relegate remote staff to secondary consideration. This can be overcome with virtual meetings and staff partnerships. Consider assigning remote staff with a local point of contact where communication and connection are valued.

[READ MORE: Creating a project plan for your startup: Here’s what to look out for]

Stay focused on goals, not activity

It is important to manage expectations and stay focused on goals when embracing a remote workforce. Do not worry as much about what is being done. Instead, concentrate on what is being accomplished. If we are meeting our goals, then great. If not, we need to look into the situation further. It is all about accomplishment, not activity.

Use technology to build community

Building community is important to developing an engaged remote workforce. Use technology to create dedicated spaces for celebrating special days (e.g. birthdays), company milestones (e.g., months or years of service), as well as community recognition. Being intentional about creating a community helps develop a corporate culture that inspires connection, which can result in increased productivity.

Remove the remote once in a while

Although the business world has grown pretty comfortable with the idea of remote work, you cannot underestimate the power of spending time together, face-to-face. There are so many positive outcomes from gathering in a shared physical space. It helps in planning long-term strategy, boosting morale, building relationships, and bringing new hires into the fold.

Give them help when they need it

Being out of sight, you may have to struggle to address the needs of every employee. Though you may be out of sight, don’t ever let them be out of your mind. Unexpected problems related to the project, or a teammate or how the work is being done are common in every business. If something is really bothering your employees or they’re feeling under the weather, understand the clues they might be giving you and give them a helping hand.

Invest in the right remote project management software

Your remote team working culture will flourish when you have everything under one roof. And this can be made possible when you rely on remote team management software to plan tasks, projects, and even people. Here’s what you can do on a project management software:

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  • Communicate with your scattered team
  • Track productivity
  • Maintain and manage timesheets
  • Share information in real time
  • Manage the tasks on a task list
  • Interact across different time zones

The challenges of managing a remote team

There are a few challenges to consider when managing a remote team. The most obvious problem is that you have fewer touchpoints and less control over what is actually happening with them on an hour-to-hour basis. But for every problem, of course there is a solution.

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Communication challenges

Establishing good team dynamics and communication is crucial with distributed teams. It differs highly from office culture in the traditional sense. After finding remote workers with the appropriate skills, you have to make sure they function well in your distributed team and fit into your remote company culture.

Solution – Get Slack, set up groups on WhatsApp, Skype, Microsoft teams, Basecamp and other tools going and actually improve communication. Plus, you get the added benefit of documentation on the cloud.

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[READ ALSO: Why investors should understand the basics of financial statements]

Should you run multiple businesses as an entrepreneur? Part 2, Godwin Obaseki,

The challenge of discussing individual projects in-person

Solution – Top video conferencing platforms allow you to see videos of the other people and communicate directly with them. You can even share screens and “look over their shoulder.” Google hangouts are now equipped with remote desktop, which you can use for customer support.

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Summary

Managing remote teams is challenging: organizing a meaningful process, monitoring team members’ activities and keeping track of work process is much harder than at an office. However, follow some simple rules, and you’ll do it. This way, you can have a group of loyal, hard-working and productive employees who will help you reach the company vision sooner.

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Columnists

How MSMEs can get easy access to finance

MSMEs must take the following steps for loan readiness.

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How MSMEs Can Get Easy Access to Finance

MSMEs are considered the backbone of the Nigerian economy. In 2019, they made up 90% of all registered businesses, contributed more than 50% of the country’s nominal GDP, and employ 84% of its labour force. Despite this, MSMEs were the recipients of less than 5% of all credit granted by the banking industry.

One reason for this is self-selection by MSME owners. Many MSMEs refuse to apply for loans from banks due to a fear of rejection and a belief that banks charge exorbitant fees and request hefty collateral before giving loans to MSMEs. Now more than ever, in this era of cashflow-based lending and low-interest rates, this harmful myth is costing businesses access to finance that they need to scale.

Another reason is the MSMEs’ lack of loan readiness. Unlike large companies, small business owners do not prepare themselves before applying for loans. This causes them to make many mistakes that discourage banks from lending to them due to a fear of non-repayment.

In order to overcome this hurdle and join large businesses in taking advantage of the low-interest climate, MSMEs must take the following steps for loan readiness:

1. Maintain financial records – Research shows that 69% of MSMEs in Nigeria do not keep detailed financial records. As a business owner, you must ensure that funds pass through your business account. Your business’s financial records as reflected in your bank statement will help your bank determine your repayment capacity. This is important, whether you want a collateral-free or collateral-based loan.

2. Use narrations for transfer into personal accounts – Again, always use your business account for business funds. However, if funds must be paid into your personal account for any reason, then ensure that those payments have a narration that reflects the purpose of the payment. For example, Two shirts purchased. This helps isolate business funds from personal when computing your turnover in order to determine your loan amount and repayment capacity.

3. Know what you want – Always know exactly how much you want and what you want it for. If your account officer asks you how much you want and you say “any amount you can give me”, they automatically assume you have no plan for the money or a plan for repayment. Before approaching your bank, determine how much you need and how much you can repay per month, using your monthly income.

4. Have a repayment plan – Always have a plan for repayment. Know how much you can afford to part with per month. Note however that your repayment plan might not align with that of the bank. Banks prefer not to take more than 33% of your monthly income in loan repayments, so your loan repayment period will probably be dependent on how much you can pay per month. Regardless, a well-thought-out repayment plan will build confidence in your repayment ability.

5. Engage your account officer– It is important to have an engagement with your account officer before applying for the loan. Instead of just writing a loan application letter to the bank and waiting for a response. Armed with your financial statement and your knowledge of how much you need and for how long, visit your account officer and have them work with you in getting your loan.


Ese Atakpu is a writer and banker.

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Commodities

AFEX raises $50 million to Finance Agri-SMEs in Nigeria

The $50 million Agri-SMEs fund is expected to bridge the funding gap between lenders and borrowers in the agric sector.

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AFEX to partner with FMDQ and Dubai Commodities Exchange, 50,000 farmers to benefit from AFEX Commodities agric funding initiative

AFEX Commodities Exchange Limited (AFEX), a private commodities exchange company, has announced the first Warehouse Receipt Backed Commercial Paper in Africa. The paper has tech-enabled operations and a 24-hour fast cash turnaround for borrowers.

This was disclosed by AFEX in a statement issued and seen by Nairametrics on Thursday.

The $50 million Agri-SMEs fund is expected to bridge the funding gap between lenders and borrowers in the Nigerian agricultural sector with a commodity-backed instrument – for the first time.

READ: AFEX partners FMDQ, Dubai Commodities Exchange to deepen markets opportunities

Ayodeji Balogun, CEO, AFEX, stated, “The AFEX financing deal will help eradicate the high cost of procurement incurred by processors by deploying a discounted value of a warehouse receipt distributed among five leading players in the Food and Beverage, Trading Poultry and Animal Feed segments in Nigeria.

“The receiving companies are top 10 players in their respective segments. They have now been enabled access to a tool for managing price volatility, enabling up to 30% direct savings on prices.

“With our vision to reach a cumulative total of over $5 Billion in investment to the agriculture sector over the next five years, this financing deal is right on track to achieve this goal.’’

He added that as AFEX move towards building a derivatives market in Africa, “we want to be able to reduce exposure to price risk for stakeholders, by enabling them to hedge their positions and trade in commodity derivatives.”

READ: CBN to increase loans to agricultural sector to 10% of total bank credit

Why it matters

  • The warehouse receipts, which can then be transferred from commodities to a financial asset and listed under the borrower’s portfolio on the AFEX trading platform, will create a sustainable funding structure and address underfunding in the Nigerian agricultural sector.
  • With the warehouse receipt system linked to financiers, the system allows financiers value and marks the commodities’ price to market on a real-time basis.

What you should know

  • AFEX’s mission is to provide low-risk working capital facility for stakeholders in the Agro sector, in a way that is transparent and has a very high viable investment return.
  • As a licensed commodities exchange and warehouse receipt system operator, it deploys a warehouse receipt system and collateral management infrastructure to increase market confidence for both lenders and borrower.

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