I’ll not deny it. I love being in a physical office with coworkers. I love being around people with the same objectives and challenges. It gives me strength and motivation.
When we started SourceLevel, Weverton and I worked apart (São Paulo and Florianópolis). And we decided to have a fully remote company.
A few months later and now everybody in tech works remotely. Some CTOs I’ve been talking to has asked me how I’ve been managing my team.
The truth is, I’m still learning how to do it, but here are some takes and learnings I had.
Daily meetings as team-building
I’ve been using daily meetings more as a way to bond over an objective than to follow the usual (and outdated) guidelines to answer what you’ve done and what roadblocks you’ve encountered.
Since the daily meeting is usually the only opportunity to see and talk to them for the day, I don’t mind talking a little bit about how’s your day been going, how you’re dealing with COVID and isolation and what happened after you took your pet to the vet the day before. I know it may be oversharing and too personal, but a working environment is made of people, and people like to bond.
People tend to delay asking for help, including myself
In a physical office, it’s easier for me to see if someone is struggling with something. Usually, because that person will be vocal about it. 🙂
Going remote, the same person will be more prone to bash and try to finish the task by themself. Even if asking something over Slack or over a call could solve the issue in less than 5 minutes.
That happens a lot to me. Make sure people start to notice this behavior and ask for help!
Have a all-hands on Fridays if you have a small team
I like to finish a week with a call with everyone. It’s is the chance to see people from other teams and talk about what they accomplished that week and how they are feeling, on a work or personal level.
I especially like the feeling that “we’re not alone” that this meeting brings.
Teams should have a goal+retrospective+metrics meeting every week
Usually, on Mondays, each team gather and discuss their plan for the week:
- What did we accomplish last week?
- Which deliveries will be done this week?
- What needs to be decided by next week?
- Do we need help from someone else?
It’s essential to have a checklist and write down what was discussed. Next week, you’ll be able to have a mini-retrospective on what happened and what to improve.
Also, this meeting works to build a shared understanding of the objectives and a common goal. It’s not a list of tasks to be done by yourself. It’s a team effort, and everyone is committed to it.
It’s also incredibly useful to have metrics to discuss. It’ll guide you on where to improve next. Which metrics you need will depend on the purpose of the team.
Respect some time off. It’s not an issue
Everyone’s working from home. And there’s a lot of distractions that will happen. Deliveries from post mail services, dogs barking, the electricity failed (happened to me more than once).
And, of course, getting a coffee or snacks. In an office, it’s easy to spot that you’re not there at the computer. Not remotely.
Don’t expect people to reply to a message immediately. For that matter, I even suggest that people disable notifications from every app.
Don’t worry. People will get back to you.
Be always open for a quick video call
I still prefer to have a 5-minute video call than to have a lengthy and truncated message exchange, especially if it involves more than two people.
Be ready for a quick video call. I suggest using Whereby.com (even Zoom allows to call a contact without a scheduled meeting).
And as a manager, be open that people can “interrupt” your work whenever they want. For me, you don’t even need to message me first.
Keep that distance short!
What about you?
Well, those are my tips that have been working for my team and me. Since SourceLevel is a Brazilian team, we’re a high-context team. It may not work as well for low-context organizations, which may prefer asynchronous and more isolated tasks.
Also, check my top 10 tools that I use to run my startup.
Do you think you can apply those tips? What works for your (now) remote team?