Key Elements to Managing a Remote Team
Space Chimp has gone through various growth and contraction phases. We’ve had shared space, dedicated offices, and co-working offices. We’ve had large teams and small teams. Now, at the time this blog is being written, we’re solely a remote team with small office foot prints in six different cities. The office space is mainly just used for client/partner meetings and group get togethers.
In this environment, the team has the flexibility they want in there work schedule, and its still easy to collaborate remotely with modern tools. Honestly, we probably collaborate better now as we’ve put more emphasis on remote collaboration then when people were sitting five feet from one another. Many people had head phones in and just chatted back and forth – at that point you may as well have been at home.
The benefits of remote teams:
- Reduced overhead
- Better global talent
- Not knowing if everyone is being productive.
We had to ask ourselves, if this is the only challenge of working from home we can solve it. And hopefully we are each and everyday using these basic principles of building a remote team.
Hire the Right People
Without the right team any company will fail but you have to think this is amplified with remote teams. Due to the relatively new phenomenon of remote working, less people are use to the idea. Thus, its important to actively find the right talent that can actively execute in a remote environment.
Four Characteristics of a Successful Remote Employee:
- Hire Doers
- Hire people you can trust
- Hire great communicators
- Hire people who are OK without a social workplace
Use the Right Tools
Tools are important because they help you better organize your team and recreate the faculties of an office with new digital protocols. How do you keep people on the same page when there is no conference room? How do you keep projects moving forward when you can’t just turnaround and ask someone a question? By leveraging modern technology you can not only overcome these challenges but often times create processes that out perform common practices used in a traditional office space.
Below are some of Space Chimp’s favorite tools to keep the team humming along:
- Chat – Slack
- Road Mapping – Trello
- Email/File Sharing – Google Apps
- Weekly Reporting – Custom WordPress Site with Async
- Video Conferencing and Phone – Skype Manager
- Employee onboarding, PTO tracking, Benefits – Zenefits
- Code sharing – GitHub
Build a Culture of Accountability
Go ahead let people work when and how their comfortable but always make sure there accountable. Ask yourself what can I put in place that I can measure? Is it tasks? Revenue for sales people? Always be monitoring, measuring, and holding people accountability to the tasks your employees need to create. This takes all the trust issues out of working remotely. No more need to ask “How do I know there doing anything”?
Actively Get Feedback
Each week I chat with each employee to see how its going. I ask them four questions.
- What’s one thing you’re excited about?
- What’s one thing you’re worried about?
- What’s one thing I can do better to help with your job?
- What’s one thing you can do better to improve at your job?
I save them in Google Drive so I can review and see if we’re making progress. This is a great proactive to keep people communicating.
End of Week Reports
Each week employees go to our private report dashboard and leave a two part update.
- What I did this week
- What I’m doing next week
Beginning of Week Reports
Just to recap everyone sends out a recap via Slack of what they are working on this week when they say “Good Morning” on Monday. This is a nice way to get the team collaboration kickstarted. Unlike the End of the Week report this can be done very quickly and informal.
Working remotely is pretty awesome but nothing can take away from the camaraderie of one-on-one interactions. At Space Chimp, we actively create opportunities where employees can come together no matter where their located.
We encourage our team members that live in the same city as other team members to get together at least once a week for lunch.
Space Chimp pulls together its talent from around the world to meet in one location for a long weekend.
In order to help with costs of working remotely, we provide perks such as Spotify membership, Amazon books, etc.
Trust Your Team
In the end you need to trust your team. If you can’t empower and motivate your team – it will crumble. If you have the accountability process in place and a good team – why worry?