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I've managed a remote team for four years. Here are the 5 things you can't ignore

https://www.fastcompany.com/90263240/5-best-practices-for-managing-a-remote-team#

fastcompany.com

I've managed a remote team for four years. Here are the 5 things you can't ignore
It's not easy being a manager. Not only are you accountable for your team's performance, you are also in charge of hiring new candidates, and you have to work hard to earn their trust and respect. Now, imagine doing these things when your closest direct report is 800 miles away, and your team members live in five different time zones.

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Hire the right people

Design your hiring process with remote candidates in mind. Look for 3 main things:

  • A strong skill set relevant to their jobs: you need to feel confident that they can ...

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Put extra effort into onboarding

Remote workers won’t have the opportunity to be involved in spontaneous conversations or team lunches, but there are other things you can do to help them settle:

  • provide info with new...

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Default working setups

Remote workers need a dedicated, quiet space to do their work, so it’s important to set some guidelines:

  • encourage workers to join coworking spaces;
  • encourage workers to s...

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Make time for face-to-face interactions

Look for ways to build strong relationships:

  • use video calls:  team communication tools lack fundamental human elements like body language and tone;
  • host te...

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Trust your team to do the work

Trust your team to do the work

... but check in from time to time.

Watch how the project unfolds in tools like Trello, Confluence, and Slack. That way, you're not bugging direct reports for status updates, but you s...

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Assembling the Team

... that's capable of executing in a remote setup:

  • Hire doers: they will get stuff done even if they are working from a secluded island.
  • Hire people you can trust. And trust the people you hire;
  • Hire people who cand write: communication is one of the most important parts of a remote team - good writers are critical to a team's success.
  • Hire people who are ok without a social workplace.

Software/Tools

In a remote team, you'll need the right tools to make sure everyone stays on the same page and can continue to execute without a physical person standing next to them.

You likely will need a tool in certain categories like group chat and video conferencing to make remote successful.

Processes

Good processes let you get work done in the absence of all else. They provide structure and direction for getting things done.

A few examples from Zapier:

  • Weekly Hangouts;
  • Weekly One-on-Ones;
  • Bring the team together 2 times/year somewhere cool;
  • Automate anything that can be automated.

The challenges of hybrid teams

The challenges of hybrid teams

Most companies embracing remote work also have dedicated headquarters. But remote-ish teams have even more communication and collaboration challenges than fully remote teams.

For example, in hybrid teams, remote employees are often left in the dark. Office workers are often heard, recognized, and promoted, while remote workers are forgotten.

Remote-friendly vs remote-first

The single biggest mistake companies can make is to opt to be remote-friendly instead of remote-first. Companies often accept the idea that remote is the future of work without creating an inclusive culture to ensure it works for everyone.

  • Remote-friendly environment: Employees are allowed to work remotely, but work is not optimized for it. There is a disconnect between office and remote employees and team meetings exclusively occur in a co-located time zone. Water cooler chat is a space for key decisions and presence is correlated with meaningful work. Communication is synchronous-first. Managers must work in the office.
  • Remote-first companies: Employees are empowered to adopt remote work. Real-time meetings are kept to a minimum and recorded. Decisions are made online and performance is measured by output, not by hours worked. Communication is asynchronous-first. Managers are encouraged to work from home.

Connecting a remote-ish team

Hybrid companies function best when the entire company is optimized for remote work. Successful hybrid teams set up processes to help their remote workers thrive alongside their office teammates.

Leadership must acknowledge the various challenges remote workers face and create solutions. Create a remote work policy that keeps remote workers and contractors from feeling like second class team members. Remote workers should feel fully connected and not missing a thing.

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Remote-first Mindset

Accept that you have to put in place remote work systems, even if more than half of your employees ultimately revert to office-based work.

  • If done right, a remote-first infrastructure will allow your employees' flexibility to be productive whenever, wherever.
  • It also opens up the ability to hire the best people regardless of locale.
  • It gives your organization a high degree of resilience.

Build a socially-connected culture

Intentionally design for the same interactions that would otherwise happen if people were in the office.

  • Culture is what naturally happens when a group of people gets together for any period.
  • A great culture happens with intentional design and influence. It's the reason you should make your company's mission, vision, values, operating principles, standards, and agreements visible. 
  • Culture is experienced through emotions, including how your employees feel about the company, you, other leaders, and peers. That feeling is developed through human interaction at the water cooler, kitchen, or hallway conversations.

Your leadership presence

Your people need to feel your presence as a leader as they will have fewer opportunities to see you face to face when they work remotely.

  • Regularly show up in a variety of forms that can include weekly video meetings, periodic company-wide emails, or presence in public channels.
  • Err on the side of more communication rather than less.