How to manage a remote team

we-work-remotely
(You can look at graphs at a coffee shop! And eat star shape cookies!)

Remote work has many obvious upsides, not the least of which includes working where you are most productive and not having to commute. However, remote work does have its challenges. Finding a way to manage a remote team effectively is one of the most important pieces of being a successful remote company. Here are some things to keep in mind.


Build a team atmosphere. You are still a team if you’re not physically in the same space.

It is just as important, if not more important, to establish a positive work environment and exciting company culture for a remote company. Your team should value quality work, but also want to work well for each other. Lack of physical face-to-face communication is no excuse for avoiding building relationships that go beyond strictly business. Actively take the time to get to know your team on a more personal level. They are human beings, not just a robot who emails you occasionally (yet).

Video calls are good for this. Also, make sure whatever technology you’re using doesn’t crap out on you while you’re on a call. It’s annoying. Putting a face to a Slack channel is important and you can simply get to know your team better through video. Go out of your way to make this happen.

Even better - get together whenever possible. Many companies go on retreats or make a point of scheduling meetups whenever possible. Seeing your team is nice from time to time (or it should be). Your remote company is made up of real people who should be valued. Tell a joke, shoot the shit or talk about sports. Have a drink if that’s what you’re into. There’s always time for that. You are a team after all. Don’t skip out on these small things that bring a team together.


we-work-remotely
(Look at these co-workers getting along and playing a game. Isn’t this nice)

Communicate Expectations

The obvious management communication stuff (ie: finding a way to communicate effectively) is even more important for a remote team. Understanding how/when each of your team members works best and making sure your team is clear on expectations should be priority #1.

No one likes feeling isolated or alone in their work. Set weekly goals with your team and check in occasionally to make sure things are on the right track. Progress within a remote team comes down communicating effectively and trust. If you don’t trust that people within your company will execute, you will run in circles and drive everyone crazy. Micromanagement doesn’t work in the remote work space, so don’t try. Micromanagement doesn’t really work in any space for that matter. So don’t micromanage - hire better (see how to hire a remote team).

Also, don’t expect your team to answer an email or be on Slack at all hours of the day. If people feel guilty for being offline or not answering an email at 9pm, you’re doing it wrong. Burn out is real, and your team has - and should have - a life outside of work. The grind it out until 2am work environment has long been proven ineffective. Promote downtime. This applies to you, too. Get some sleep.

Obviously, all of this is easier said than done. You will run into challenges and have hiccups along the way. Managing any team is hard. However, keeping these things in mind will help you. I promise.

Good luck, and thanks for being here. We really appreciate it : -)

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