Top 4 remote team trends for 2016

I can’t quite explain how awesome 2016 is going to be for remote teams. It’s going to be non-stop innovation coupled with new movements that will really start to make office-based employees get more jealous than ever.

Here are some of the trends that I’ll be paying attention to most as the year progresses as I manage my own remote teams at X-Team:

There’s a Slackbot for that

With the release of the new Slack app directory, the momentum around the releasing of Slackbots is growing rapidly.

They will not only open a new market with companies entirely dedicated to Slack-only services (like daily standup bot Tatsu), but also greatly improve remote companies’ efficiency, productivity, communication, insights, culture, agility, responsiveness, customer service and so much more.

They will also become a great marketing tool for companies looking to offer a teaser into a larger product, much like we’ve seen with Leo by Officevibe which lets you do happiness surveys via Slack (a small piece of a greater suite of feedback tools by Officevibe).

Because it’s a gold rush era, there will be an overload of Slackbots (just try keeping up with this list already), meaning you’ll need to be cautious on which bots you adopt as many will fade away and die quickly, leaving your team support-less.

The decline of meetings entirely

Although hard to believe, this is a trend I can pretty confidently predict since I’ve already seen it happen in my own company.

Halfway through 2015, we committed to only hosting a meeting if extraordinary, collaborative value could be gained.

No more video-based weekly check-ins, daily standups or anything that could be handled asynchronously via constant text-based communication each day.

We haven’t looked back since, and best of all, we actually look forward to when a meeting happens, because we know it’s guaranteed to be a valuable experience, not just a re-iterating of information that has already been read in Slack channels.

If you’re going to force people to stay up until midnight to jump in a meeting, they better be inspired as $#&@ by the time it’s over; otherwise, just don’t do it.

This will continue in 2016. Getting people from 6 timezones together 5–6 times/week inevitably leads to burnout, dissatisfaction, morale hits, sleep-deprivation and more.

If it isn’t Slackbots that will help kill meetings, it’ll be the evolution of the remote worker that continues to grow a discipline in daily journal-like progress updates that ultimately make meetings unnecessary.

Creative approaches to motivating remote teams

Motivation has always been a challenge with remote teams, but we’re starting to see more efforts to address this.

Slackbots will once again play a big part in this as well, but we’ll continue to see a lot of the same gamification hype of yesteryear resurface as more Slack integrations start to make gamified experiences actually work.

The combo of [real-time + messaging + notifications + live peer pressure] is going to allow for the hopes and dreams of gamification to actually work in the workplace.

It won’t just be bot-based either. My company is experimenting heavily with story-based gamified experiences to help motivate staff to increase performance.

In this example, we unleashed a ‘villain’ into a team’s channel and challenged them to defeat him within 5 days by helping grade applicant exams.

The fictional villain even taunted members of the channel to help motivate them to want to help out and defeat him.

The results were phenomenal, increasing performance by 500%.

Remote teams will get much better at motivating staff in 2016, and it’s only just begun.

Co-living will take co-working’s spotlight

The co-working market continues to grow rapidly, and that certainly won’t decline in 2016.

But when it comes to the media spotlight, co-living (or co-working, but while also living together in the same space) will certainly take over in 2016.

WeWork, a co-working company valued at $10 billion, even just launched its first co-living experiment.

Co-living will get a lot of love simply because it can offer a much more exotic and inspiring remote work lifestyle since it often also combines travel with work.

Take for example Coboat — a co-living company that invites remote workers to travel the seas and work together, stopping at exotic locations throughout southeast Asia.

Or Nomad House, organized retreats for remote workers, in mostly beautiful and affordable locations. They provide the essentials of what you’ll need, making it more of an all-inclusive experience that allows you to focus on working and collaborating and not on having to find the best grocery stores in a new city.

We’re already orchestrating our own internal co-living experiences for our staff and hope to learn a lot in 2016 about how to sustainably provide this kind of company-wide benefit for years to come.

Make sure you’re exploring this in 2016 and finding ways to offer it to your team, the same way you might already offer co-working benefits.

Ryan Chartrand is the CEO of X-Team, a global team of extraordinary remote developers who can join your team and start executing today.