Many of us have been chucked into a remote working/ management reality in the last ten days. All our face to face events at Steamed Egg are on hold for the time being so I’ve had some time to browse Linkedin and seen some fantastic advice flying around.
The below are the best tips I’ve come across from leaders who’ve been managing remote teams for years.
1. Over Communicate
Steli Efti, CEO of Close (A CRM) has been running a remote team for over 5 years. Now 50 people strong.
His main tip? Always OVER COMMUNICATE.
Steli says you need to make sure your team stays in touch with each other, way beyond what’s necessary to get the job done.
That means, ask and invite questions. Encourage people to speak up. Show them you value it when they do it so that people are inclined to be talking.
2. Create space for a virtual “Water Cooler”.
Wade Foster, Co-Founder & CEO – Zapier says it’s critical to facilitate equivalent spaces in the digital world that people would use to build culture in physical offices. These spaces create relationships and rapport which is the lubricant to your company’s culture.
Try starting chat threads for things like “#Fun-Movies” or “#Fun-News”. This fosters a sense of community within your company – your team will go seek these interactions elsewhere if you don’t get ahead of it.
3. Buddy up
Wade foster also advocated creating camaraderie through a buddy system. Give people a work friend who they meet with via Video for that week. Slack has a Doughnut function to do this random assigning for you.
These buddy chats gives people space to get personal, laugh and vent once a week with someone new which increase bonds across the company.
“You want to get to know you neighbours before your house is on Fire” says Wade.
You can see the full video here
4. Don’t be afraid to get personal.
Last tip from Wade Foster: Talk about your world beyond work. Use photos to show some of your personality and life to people, within reason.
Weekly team updates are perfect places to do this. Ask your team to chuck in a few funny photos of them solving problems at home. Include something that you did in between your meetings like go for a run, watch a documentary at lunch to show off the benefits of flexible working.
You could even turn this into a challenge. Funniest one each week gets a prize etc.
5. Build in a face to face cornerstone.
Even the best remote teams need to launch from a solid foundation.
Wayne Turmel, Co-founder of the Remote leadership institute says you should aim to get your team’s meeting in person at least once a year – global Pandemic permitting.
Steli Efti (from point 1) brings together the team at Close.com twice a year for a company all hands. Steli used a company called Surf Office to organise what looked like and epic 2 weeks in Lisbon. To be honest, I’m jealous. https://www.thesurfoffice.com/customers/closeio/
6. Be brutally honest about what’s going on.
Rumours spread lightning fast in companies, especially in times of crisis like we’re experiencing. It can also happen when people feel in the dark. In the 2020’s management needs to be completely transparent with people at the best of times. Commit to regular updates on plans and official company news via email, video conference calls.
People who feel in the loop feel connected to the company. (Hubspot)
7. Trust your employees to get on with it. Give them space.
Just because your team was in the office does not mean they were being productive. The opposite is also true.
While you may be tempted to think your employees are sitting on the couch binging Lost from start to finish, give them the benefit of the doubt. Unless you have clear evidence to suggest they aren’t pulling their weight, assume the best. (Hubspot)
On LinkedIn, Michael Jon Lazar, Software Executive at Readycloud said. “#1 Tip: Leave me alone and let me do my work.”
People need to have “Deep work” chunks of time where they can dive deep into immersive projects. Don’t expect them to be always available via chat. You can set an understanding that you’ll call each-other if it’s urgent.
8. Set extra clear deadline expectations and accountability
Let people know what your priorities are so they can support your objectives. Ask them to tell you when they think a project will be done. Hold each other to account, invite them to do the same with you too. Use a project management tool like Trello/ Asana/ Monday.com to have visibility and track this. (Hubspot)
Steli at Close says, “Close use deadlines as an important tool to maintain momentum and focus, and to make sure that projects that involve multiple people move along at a fast pace, and there are fewer bottlenecks.”
9. A pictures worth 1000 words
Ask everyone to get pictures up on their Gmail/ outlook / zoom or anywhere you can. We have really primal brains that respond well to faces. It a simple way to help us remember who we’re working with. (Wayne Turmel, Co-founder of the Remote leadership)
10. A video is worth a 1000 Pictures.
In person, about 50-70% of your communication comes through body language. Don’t neglect the significance of your face and your hands, especially when you’re having difficult conversation. Get on video at-least once a day, ideally more (Wayne Turmel, Co-founder of the Remote leadership).
11. Encourage your team to take lot of rest
Make this new way of working fun for your team. Encourage them to take a long lunch, Don’t expect them to sit indoors all day and then only have night to them selves.
The key benefit of being at home is a huge amount of flexibility. Trust that your team will do the work you’ve asked them to do and make sure they don’t burn out doing it.
Coronavirus (Covid-19) could be with us for months. You need to think about the marathon your people are about to endure. Don’t let them fatigue!
12. Document decisions and progress.
Shawn Ragell Partnerships Lead at Close.com says: “Write things down. Documentation and historical context is invaluable for remote teams.”
At Steamed Egg we’ve started using Notion as our digital workspace. It’s serves as a Wiki for training, a place to store new ideas and also great for recording decision making. Create a 100% accessible log of what’s being decided. Including your team’s own “Remote Working Standards”. Keep it current so you can all see whats happening and the progress being made on projects.
13. Keep your time commitments
The last nugget is from me. Far from being an expert on this, I must confess I have the temptation to be much more relaxed about time at home – I’m guessing I can’t be the only one?
Keeping phone/ video call commitments religiously will trickle through to your team. Keep them as if you were meeting a customer in the office. If you as leader start to turn up late, you’re team will follow suit.
Many of us have be forced into adopting a full time remote working policy in 2020. We should try to milk the situation for as many positives as possible. This could be the start of a new era of flexible working that boost work-life balance.
It’s looking likely we’re going to be working like this for the next few months so approach the situation with a long term mind set. Lay out the standards and expectations you and your team will hold each-other too. Let them know what it’s ok by you so they can relax knowing when they are and aren’t overstepping boundaries.
Get good at this before everyone else does. According to Hubspot 51% of workers would change jobs for a role that offered remote flexitime. That number is likely to increase as more people get a taste of the #remotelife .