Virtual workspaces enhance efficiency and enable hiring the best talent, not dependent on where they live.
Being liberated from an office space has big benefits. During my personal engagement of 18-years as a successful remote worker myself, I’ve picked up some tips on how to manage a team successfully from afar. Managing remote teams isn’t without its challenges. Some feel disconnected from the team without face time. Others run into communication issues with timezones or organizational structure to check-in with others (there are no “office drive-bys” that happen remotely).
Here are the top 5 tips we’ve learned for successfully guiding a virtual team into a successful team:
- Hire the right talent for remote working. It’s pretty easy to spot if a candidate is self-motivated and will thrive in a remote working environment. Ask questions around their examples in their portfolio where they came up with creative solutions that were outside-of-the-box on their own. Check their references and find out if they are organized and meet deadlines well. Great indicators for remote workers.
- Focus on results, not on working hours. Yes, they need to attend meetings on time no matter what their time zones are. But when they actually DO their best work may not be in 9-5 standard office hours. I personally managed a rock-star coder who did his best work between midnight and 4 am. As long as they attend meetings and respond to questions/emails/IM’s in a rapid manner, then it doesn’t really matter WHEN they do the work.
- Institute a consistent Daily/Weekly meeting infrastructure. Yes, we know that today’s creatives are inundated with meetings. But it’s imperative to create a consistent structure of one-on-ones with each of your direct reports. And they should also have weekly one-on-ones with their direct reports. Also, it’s important to identify key team players that are “peers” outside of your organization that also need weekly one-on-ones. And finally, one-on-one with your manager to keep them abreast of what’s in movement. Weekly staff meetings are also key so everyone has an idea of what’s going on in the different departments. And finally, daily stand-up meetings to identify what folks are doing that day.
- Use the right tools to help communication channels. Meetings are always held utilizing a screen sharing software – Webex/Zoom/Etc with the agenda of the meeting saved in a shared Slack channel. It’s important that a shared calendaring system is clearly adopted so all can see if resources are aware of meeting times and can/will attend. Instant communication channels like Slack or IM are also key for allowing teams to chat in real-time with each other. It’s a nice plus if in those real-time messaging platforms, to display the employee’s availability at that moment — “I’m In A Meeting” or “Back at Noon”. A cloud-based file sharing platform enables creatives to quickly find the master layered PSDs. And finally, a Saas infrastructure that allows for sharing work and enabling review notes like InVision vs emailing back and forth mockups for review and notes.
- Set a benchmark for response times – give a positive hand-off within 20 minutes! This is key for enabling trust that your team is actually sitting in their desk and respond to any slack/IM pings, emails, etc within 20-minutes. It’s amazing how a 1-hour response time on an email can kill that trust with a co-worker faster than anything.