Productivity Tools

Secrets of a Successful Remote Team

Secrets of a Successful Remote Team in 2020

Building and managing a remote team is like anything that looks easy before you try it for yourself: for every one way to get it right, there are a hundred ways to get it wrong.

As the creators of a product that’s used by so many remote teams, and members of our own remote team, we at Droplr get a unique perspective on what truly makes the best of them tick. It’s both simpler and more complicated than you’d think to learn how to manage a remote team.

Some Remote Teams Started That Way

Often, the most successful remote teams haven’t jumped on the remote work bandwagon—they’ve been driving it all along. Leaders and team members are fully on board. Buy-in was achieved from Day 1 during the hiring process.

It’s easy to state the obvious: the surest way to become a successful remote team is to already be one.

So, is it just too late for everyone else? Not so fast…

work from home written on a notebook

Sweeping changes to an established team or company are painful. Some team members will resist change, while others will embrace it.

Expect a game of tug-of-war: some steps backward, some steps forward, some people throwing in the towel along the way, and the (never distant) possibility of all toppling in a heap by the end.

Related: How to Be A Digital Nomad and Thrive

At Droplr, we have many customers who started remote and some who have transitioned. Most of them have also been through scaling -the-remote-team learning curve. Our best advice is to learn from those who are already doing it well.

That said, if you’re an employee who’s currently sitting in an office hoping to work remotely, don’t hold your breath waiting for management to terminate the office lease — go polish up your resume. Your best bet is to get hired onto a team that is already remote.

Managing a Remote Team

Need help managing a remote team? Keep this truth in mind: there’s nothing more demoralizing as an employee than being given a set of rules to live by, then having them used against you when it’s convenient.

Related: Talking Remote Work with Automattic

For a leader, it can be tempting to make this mistake. For example, if you know that your employees are in multiple time zones and are not always immediately available, don’t criticize them for not being at your beck and call.

woman at a laptop next to a child and a cat

The true measure of remote employee performance is quality work, delivered on time.

You set the policy — embrace it!

“A team is not a group of people who work together.”
“A team is a group of people who trust each other.”
— from Find Your Why by Simon Sinek

You Have to Actually Believe in Your Remote Team

You can’t fake it and make it as a remote team. Let’s go back to that game of tug-of-war—if you’re not putting every ounce of your weight into the effort, failure’s nearly guaranteed. And we’re not talking the do-over kind of failure; we’re talking total-team-implosion kind of failure.

Related: How To Run a Remote Company the Right Way

Don’t decide to work remotely because it’s fashionable. Don’t do it as an experiment. Do it because you’re seriously passionate about the idea.

The successful remote team believes, from top to bottom, that a remote workforce will ultimately create greater success for the business.

keep calm & stay home

They believe that they:

  • get more work done
  • have fewer distractions
  • stay more focused
  • save money (for themselves and for the company)
  • are happier people

Are these things true? Not always. But you’ve got to truly believe in what you’re doing to achieve positive results.

A Remote Team Communicates, A Lot

The most cohesive and productive remote teams find ways to make conversations happen regardless of barriers. The most important secret of success at work is to have remote team communication. Although team members may not be in the same room – communication is just as important if not more. Collaboration with remote teams is crucial for getting projects done in a timely manner and meeting all goals and objectives.

Often teams use the same chat program, engaging with team members in a way that feels like one continuous, convivial conversation (pleasantries implied/optional). They use 5 minute team building activities to remain a cohesive group and build closer relationships.

They align their work schedules or, if in different time zones, set up regular times to meet. And while they may keep impromptu online meetings and conference calls short and sweet, they’re not ever afraid to say, “Hey, let’s talk.”

Getting the job done well means figuring out how team members work best, individually and together. What happens next is that this quality teamwork becomes a habit. And being immersed in a team means being immersed in, and more dedicated to, one’s work.

Remote Teams Find What Works

Nothing hurts more than investing time (forget the money) into learning and adopting a tool that is supposed to make you a better team, only to find out that it’s not what your team needs, or simply that nobody uses it.

Be skeptical of productivity tools that try to sell themselves as an end-all solution for your whole team and for every project. These tend to be complex, heavy pieces of software that have big learning curves and high rates of failed adoption. If you’re going to adopt anything that requires training or lots of setup, beware.

The best tools for your remote team are lightweight and are tailored to make remote interactions faster, more direct, and simpler. The less each one relies on yet more software from that same vendor the better.

Easy Remote Team Building Activities

cat sitting on a person using their laptop
  • Morning check-ins – start your day off right, with a cup of coffee or tea and a daily check-in with your team. Use a motivation quote to set up your day for success and outline goals and expectations.
  • Share Photos – Get to know your coworkers and what their ‘workspaces’ look like. Does it involve a furry friend? Send a picture of your work from home coworkers.
  • Team Building Games – Whether they’re serious or silly, team building games can help you build a stronger and more connected team.

You’ve Got This, Right?

You sure do!

Have a remote team that needs better tools? Try Droplr for free.

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