Remote Management Practices

I have worked on a handful of remote teams, each with different dynamics. What I have learned is that great remote leadership is one of the most important components of success on a distributed team. The healthiest remote teams have remote leaders, who are invested in a remote-first mentality. If your company has multiple offices, a flexible work from home policy, or completely spans the globe—you likely will be remote to someone on your team and your leadership style should adapt to that reality.

I think about remote management practices often and work hard to champion great remote-first culture both within my teams and with my peers across the company. Here are some things that I have learned along the way:

Run effective meetings

State ground rules

Be okay with silence

Balance asynchronous vs. synchronous

Establish team norms

Let’s take an example of one of our team norms: “we trust everyone to manage their own Do Not Disturb settings when out of office.” Establishing this norm upfront sets the expectation that:
1. If you do not manage your DND, you might get a message while you are OOO
2. The rest of the team should not c*nsor mentioning someone who is OOO, for fear of pinging them, because it makes it easier for them to search and catchup when they return.
3. If you are messaging someone who is OOO, assume their DND is on and they will probably not answer you.
Many teams likely have different norms about how to handle people being OOO and that is perfectly great for those teams. Problems arise when these norms are not established upfront and lead to a lot of confusion and frustration (“why does this person keep messaging me when I am clearly on vacation?!”)

There are plenty of other norms to establish like what weekly rituals and touch points the team wants or when and how we track decisions made in Slack (:gavel-emoji:). As a manager, it’s my job to ensure that the team has space to create and reflect on these norms for themselves.

Communicate in multiple ways

Reach people where they are

Provide multiple avenues for feedback

Establish safe space

I look for signals in my team that they aren’t comfortable sharing their thoughts— is there less participation from teammates in meetings? Are the same few people leaving comments in docs? Are people frequently talking over each other? Once I see a pattern, I try to identify avenues to address it with my peers in engineering management and product management where we can tackle solutions together and build safety from all angles on the team.

It also helps to create space for the team to build relationships outside of the context of work. A small thing we do is have a fun Slack prompt on Fridays to share pictures of pets, kids, or anything else that you’re interested in. It’s great to asynchronously learn about my coworkers interests, and it makes us feel connected (also get yourself a #remote channel—it’s THE BEST for solidarity about the things we encounter as remote workers.)

Be intentional about peer relationships

Having built many peer relationships across my organization, it is much easier for me now to Slack them a quick favor or ask for their advice. I can’t overstate how important this is both for me as a manager, and for me to feel less isolated as a remote worker.

Model transparency about when you work



It is important however, to be an active participant in Slack. So much of a remote organization’s culture will exist via text, emojis, and gifs. Being a participant in this helps connect you to the team or demonstrate your sense of humor or show what you care about and encourage. Just be mindful of taking up too much space! Typing more than the rest of the team in Slack creates the same feeling as a manager talking too much in a meeting.

What remote management practices have you found to be most helpful?



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