Now that my startup is starting to generate revenue, I'm going to hire a designer, a rails coder, and several SEO people to work remotely. I'll likely start on ODesk and if they are good, move the relationship direct outside of ODesk.
What are some challenges that remote teams face in communication and collaboration? And what are ways to alleviate those issues?
1. Only hire people who know how to communicate well. It's worth spending the extra money on people who are well versed in your language. Otherwise the constant back and worth on the same tasks will cost you more in time spent.
2. End of day status email. Create a email group that everyone sends an email to at the end of the day with a bulleted list of what they got accomplished today. You should be doing this as well. It gives a feeling of a team environment to all your remote hires. Even if your designer has no direct interaction with your marketer, this creates a sense of belonging to a larger team.
3. You should communicate properly and be as detailed in your explanations as possible. Don't presume someone is going to understand an overall concept. Create mocks (even just drawing them out on paper and scanning them works), take screenshots and annotate, etc.
Pro tip: If the entire team can do this based on their time zones, have a 10 minute group Google Hangout each week to discuss what the team got accomplished. Creating a virtual relationship amongst everyone will result in lower churn rate.