Some years back, before the days of email, internet, and video conferencing, teams needed to be in the same geographical location to work efficiently.
But now, many teams work regularly with colleagues based in different continents, countries, cities and buildings. Members of a team may come from regions with different time zones, have a different way of life and speak different languages. I know we have that at Caldera – we proudly span over 2 time zones, 3 nationalities, and all-around awesome.
As they say, we’re in the middle of a “remote work revolution.”
Many remote teams face a variety of circumstances. Some members of remote teams are working in twos, others in threes. Some are all in the same office but have one person working individually in a separate office or at home. You may be seeing some of the members of the team every day, while you may hardly or never see others.
Regardless of the way teams are being arranged and organized, managing them, especially those ones that are spread out in most locations, can be tasking and challenging. I can’t pretend I have all the answers, but one of my 2017 projects is to hack my productivity as a remote worker. In this post, I reflect on some of the strategies that have worked for Caldera Labs to ensure that we treat each other fairly, stay on track, and buy into our own objectives.
Put up an organized work plan.
Putting up well-organized (read: prioritized) work plans that outlined what the team was expecting from each of its members was a game changer. Through this, we ensure that everyone knows and does their assignments. Since the workers of the team are not working in the same location, we make use of a project management system to keep everybody in touch. Various project management systems are now available, but we use Asana. If any assignment is updated, every member of the team is notified.
Set up regular virtual face time meetings with the team.
Communication in the virtual office often rely mostly on phone calls, video calls, emails, and Slack. The lack of face time meeting with your team means that daily performance feedback can be lacking. When one doesn’t see their team in person, they will not be able to get the information provided by cues that are nonverbal, like facial expressions and body language. You can solve this problem by making use of your Skype, Google Hangouts, or other video conferencing software on a regularly scheduled basis to check in and make sure everyone is feeling right.
While you are working, schedule a time for contact.
Set aside a convenient time during the day when you are just available for emails and Slack. I think there are two kinds of people in the world: those that are on Slack and email on day if they don’t limit themselves and therefore get nothing done, and those that will be impossible to reach unless they commit to a specific time for communications. Regardless of which one you are, committing to a specific time in which you chat will solve your problem. Open communication gives everyone the allowance to have discussions and to clear any issues that have not been unresolved.
Know the expectations of your team.
Having an organized plan (#1) is one thing, but knowing what’s on it is another. Since you have no chance of coming across a whiteboard with this information hanging up in the office, it is necessary for you to have periodic check-ins of your team to see the progress they’re making and to ensure that everyone is on track in achieving the aim of the team.
Managing a remote team properly is highly essential for the growth of any company, and especially a fully remote company like ours. Every member of the team needs to be given an opportunity to grow. With these tips discussed above, you will be sure to manage your remote team the best way.
P.S. Did you notice how, at no point, did I talk about “employees,” “managers,” or “bosses”? According to management research, the remote work revolution is eroding old methods of hierarchy, which is pretty awesome because as it turns out, “management” is useless.