This post is more of a personal anecdote rather than a data driven assessment of various metrics and analytics. My perspective comes from working remotely over the last five years for the same company that launched two different products. At times, it’s been challenging to not be in the same room with everyone during important discussions. But, I’ve learned a few things that I think can provide some perspective into the emotional traits needed to have a successful remote team.
So, let’s take a quick look into what makes, in my humble opinion, a remote team successful.
- Select an Optimal Work Time — One has to be able to pinpoint optimal work hours for you and your colleagues and stick to those times — especially if you’re all in significantly different time zones. For example, I’m in California, but our engineers are mostly in eastern Europe. So, a fixed routine is crucial. Avoid getting up at different times each day, and select a timeframe where you find it easy and enjoyable to be productive. Managing your own time is part of the benefits of remote work, but it can also be a slippery slope. Personally, I try to implement a daily morning routine of taking one deep inhale and exhale before engaging with the team and responding to emails. This seems to start my day on a more peaceful foot.
- Be a Humble Thought Provoker — Active engagement on any team means sometimes providing constructive criticism or push back. When working remotely, since often times you might not see the other person, be sure to couch your language in a way that drives conversation and does not stifle the free flow of ideas. This is where your tone of voice becomes super important. We’ve all encountered circumstances when someone says, “I’m fine,” but the way in which they say it can have a ton of different meanings. I’ve found three steps work well for me when I’m trying to be a Humble Thought Provoker: A) Acknowledge their idea; B) Repeat their idea back to them to make sure you’ve understood it correctly; and C) Inquire if they’d be open to feedback and couch ideas as suggestions.
- Hire Curious Self Starters — Especially with remote startups, assembling a team of curious self starters is as important as making sure the warm homemade apple pie has a nice scope of creamy Haagen-Dazs vanilla right on top. So, yeah…it’s a big deal. Everyone on the team might need to play multiple roles or step into someone else’s shoes. If even one team member has a “it’s not my job” attitude, that can sour the whole team dynamic. When hiring, we’ve always looked for candidates who want to dive in, unpack and resolve issues that might not be in their wheelhouse, but are curious enough to learn, adapt and master. Or, at least realize, how to ask a team member for help.
Do these traits guarantee a successful startup? Not necessarily, but I think it does make for a great team, and great teams ultimately find success.
I’m curious to hear about your experiences with remote teams and what you think makes for a successful one.
Best, Brandon — Director of Engagement, prsnt.app