Tech Tips for Managing a Remote Team

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Depending on the industry, remote work is either the buzzword du jour or head scratchingly incomprehensible. Distributed teams allow for companies to break down geographical borders in their quest to find top talent, but it also means making accommodations that traditional brick and mortar businesses haven’t considered.

Managing a Remote Team

If you’re thinking about allowing your employees to work remotely, or you’re already developing a distributed team but think there’s room for improvement, here are a few digital daring dos to keep everyone happy and productive:

1. Get Creative When Cultivating Your Community

Establishing a centralized culture when your employees are geographically scattered is slightly different than chatting around a water cooler. It’s better, in fact. The Trello office manager sends a birthday cake to be delivered right to every remote employee’s home. Sometimes that means a wild goose chase to find the best cheesecake bakery in a remote part of the Midwest. But it’s totally worth it when the employee uploads a picture to Slack to share with the rest of the team.

Since remote culture ditches the break room, it’s also about making sure remote coworkers know each other—even if they’re not working on the same project. At Trello, our recruiting coordinator does this each week by randomly matching us up with another employee. We spend a half hour together, usually on a video call, getting to know one another. We then summarize our conversation on a centralized Trello board so that other team members can join in on our discussion by commenting on the card. The exercise has been a massive success, with countless remote workers reporting on how much more connected they feel for having an opportunity to get to know their coworkers.

2. Ditch Email

If your team is distributed, you are relying heavily on digital communication to accomplish everything. Pro tip: ditch email. I know! It sounds impossible. But think about how many times long email chains have gotten messy, convoluted, and effectively made you and your team less productive.

It may come as no surprise that at Trello we actually use Trello to discuss projects, comment on ideas, and keep everything transparent. Project management software can often be a great alternative to email—in fact, in Capterra’s Project Management User Research Report, a majority of project managers reported that project management software improved team communication—over final product quality, the increase in the number of projects meeting deadline, and overall customer satisfaction.

3. Make Their Office An Extension Of Your Office

Supporting remote team members means supporting their satellite workspace the same way you would at an HQ office. Supporting your coworkers with office basics, like a desk, a chair, and computer equipment is essential for them to create a comfortable work environment. Investing in their space also makes them feel invested in your company, even if they’re not physically present every day.

Providing remote workers with IT support for troubleshooting is also imperative. Their workspace is not on an island! They should not be burdened with a lack of resources for solving technical issues just because they’re working on their own. At Trello we use an IT Support board for technical requests.  As a matter of fact, the IT engineer responding to the incoming tickets is a remote employee, himself!

4. Be Adaptable Across The Board. Period.

Technology is pretty good these days, but it isn’t without its mishaps. Relying on internet connections to have meetings with your team elicits fear in some project managers, but it’s actually a non-issue. The trick is to keep options open. At Trello, we are known to conduct meetings and interviews on Google Hangout, appear.in, or even Skype.

Speaking of cross-team communication: be considerate of time zones. It is reasonable to expect all employees across all time zones be working together for at least part of the day, which might mean some remote workers will need to keep slightly unconventional hours. But that also means understanding that not everyone will be immediately available when you need them. For example, Trello HQ is in New York City, but one of our remotes lives in Hawaii. He gets up extra early to be with his team in the morning, but he is also unavailable for part of the EST work day so that he can be a dad. There is never a hang-up. When everyone compromises a little, no one feels treated unfairly.

Remote work is not without its adaptations, but that doesn’t mean it has to be uncomfortable. If done right, there is a low risk of decreased productivity, communication challenges, or disparate culture—and a high probability of more productive employees who are happier, to boot.

Header by Abby Kahler

Looking for Project Management software? Check out Capterra's list of the best Project Management software solutions.

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Lauren Moon

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Lauren Moon is a Content Marketing Manager at Trello.

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Remote work has its advantages—flexibility, low or no overhead costs, and a greater pipeline of applicants from which to hire. Above mentioned tips helps one to effectively manage remote teams. Tools like webex, gomeetnow, gotomeeting, R-HUB web video conferencing servers http://www.rhubcom.com etc. are used for effective communication between remote teams.

[…] a guest post from Trello, Lauren Moon points out that technology can help with the growing presence of remote teams. She […]

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Very interesting tips here! My company also has a remote team, spread across 3 different countries (2 different continents!), so I’ve had experience with all of the issues you touched on in this article. We’ve used everything from Skype to good old-fashioned email to stay connected and productive. In the end, we discovered a tool called SuiteDash (https://suitedash.com/) that has absolutely transformed our entire work flow! SuiteDash lets us communicate with each other via private messages (like email), and even through built-in live chat. I can manage projects and tasks for my team, share files, and communicate with everyone, all right inside my web browser. These “all-in-one” SaaS solutions really are the future, and they are incredible! If anyone is in the market for a tool to help them manage a remote team, I would highly recommend checking out SuiteDash (https://suitedash.com/)!

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All the points you discussed here are true!

I work from home with different colleagues around the world (of course, different age group) and we always have to agree on the best time to chat with everyone. Even after we have agreed, still only a few were able to attend our regular meetings.

I somehow wonder, what if there’ll be no meetings at all? What if there are no bosses who will take care of your tasks and everything about work? I actually got that idea from this article – http://biz30.timedoctor.com/can-a-business-work-and-grow-without-bosses/

I know most of us will disagree but what if there’s a fair environment in the workplace, no one is superior and everyone is the “boss”?

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Positive list! I agree with the ideas being discussed on tech tips for managing a remote team; it will surely uplift the managing and building of remote team. Also, it will give online companies and businesses a better perspective on how to get things work and what are essentials to make it successful. But it looks like your list is half-baked as there are more new strategies and tactics on how to successfully create an online presence.

And there’s a good alternative I can suggest and hope will also help you by any means, “How to Build And Manage Remote Teams” (http://amazingworkplace.com/27-building-and-managing-remote-teams/) that combines functionalities and solutions which will surely address to the problems on building and managing remote teams. Not trying to belittle your list but giving you new viewpoints about the topic. Good luck to all of us!

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