“Don’t Be a D*$k” and 4 Other Rules for Being a Good Distributed Team Member

Working in a distributed team can be great — as long as you’re an A-hole.

When most people consider the switch from working in an office to working remotely, they only focus on the benefits of remote work. Fewer distractions and interruptions. No boss checking in on you or lurking over your shoulder. Checking email in your underwear.

Once they’ve made the switch and started working remotely, however, they soon realize that maintaining communication and operating effectively as a member of a distributed team takes a LOT of work — sometimes more work than when they commuted to an office and sat in a cubicle everyday.

I’ve learned some important things about working remotely over the last few years, but perhaps the most important was figuring out how to work effectively with my distributed coworkers. For a 100% remote company like Tribe to be successful, it’s necessary to build a team of people with the right mix of professional skills and personal attributes. Finding those people can be really tough, and it starts with being a good distributed team member yourself.

Here are 5 Rules for Being a Good Distributed Team Member

1. Don’t Be a D*$k

This should just be a generally life rule, but it’s especially important when working as part of a distributed team. No one likes to work with a jerk, whether it’s in an office, factory, retail store, or on a computer from hundreds of miles away. Being cordial and friendly is especially important in a remote work environment because you’ll likely have no other contact with your team members like you might have in an office setting. You won’t be able to apologize for snapping at a coworker over a few happy hour beers on a Friday, so make it a point to be extra nice with all of your internal team communication.

2. Take Initiative

Working remotely requires a high level of self-motivation and discipline. In a way, a good distributed team member is kind of like a mini entrepreneur, managing and growing the area of the business that they are responsible for. Being proactive and taking initiative when it comes to solving problems, responding to clients, or handling day to day tasks is critical for distributed team members.

3. Be an EPIC Communicator

Trust is the most important component of a successful remote working relationship. And what builds trust? Yep, goodcommunication. But it isn’t enough to just be a good communicator — you need to be an EPIC communicator in order to be a good distributed team member. All of your communication, from internal chats and emails with team members to phone calls with clients, needs to be on point. This may require you to develop more effective communication habits, but it will pay off huge for you and your remote team.

4. Always Be Honest

As I mentioned earlier, trust is the most important component of a successful remote team. In addition to communication, a major factor in developing trust among your distributed team members is honesty. Make sure you’re always honest about everything you do: time tracking, working hours, task management, finances, etc. The minute your team members think you’re being dishonest is when things can start to go south quickly.

5. Be Accountable

Who was supposed to follow up with that client? Was that proposal sent on time? Why did we miss that project deadline? If you’re the guy (or girl) who’s always passing the buck on your responsibilities, than remote work probably isn’t for you. A good distributed team member is accountable for their actions, both good and bad. They make sure tasks get completed on time, and they don’t come up with a million excuses when something doesn’t get done. They make it right and move on.


Originally published at www.madebytribe.co on June 28, 2015.