Secrets of Successful Remote Teams

What they don’t tell you, or aren’t willing to admit

Building a successful remote team is like anything that looks easy before you try it for yourself: for every one way to get it right, there’s a hundred ways to get it wrong.

As the creators of a product that’s used by so many remote teams, we at Droplr get a unique perspective on what truly makes the best of them tick. And it’s both simpler and more complicated than you’d think.

They started that way

Often, the most successful remote teams haven’t jumped on the remote work bandwagon — they’ve been driving it all along. Leaders and team members are fully on board. Buy-in was achieved from Day 1 during the hiring process.

It’s easy to state the obvious: the surest way to become a successful remote team is to already be one 😕

So, is it just too late for everyone else? Not so fast…

Sweeping changes to an established team or company are painful. Some team members will resist change, while others will embrace it.

Expect a game of tug-of-war: some steps backward, some steps forward, some people throwing in the towel along the way, and the (never distant) possibility of all toppling in a heap by the end.

At Droplr, we have many customers who started remote and some who have transitioned. Our best advice is to learn from those who are already doing it well.

That said, if you’re an employee who’s currently sitting in an office hoping to work remotely, don’t hold your breath waiting for management to terminate the office lease — go polish up your resume. Your best bet is to get hired onto a team that is already remote.

They aren’t run by hypocrites

There’s nothing more demoralizing as an employee than being given a set of rules to live by, then having them used against you when it’s convenient.😲

For a leader, it can be tempting to make this mistake. Example: If you know that your employees are in multiple time zones and are not always immediately available, don’t criticize them for not being at your beck and call.

The true measure of remote employee performance is quality work, delivered on time.

You set the policy — embrace it!

“A team is not a group of people who work together.” “A team is a group of people who trust each other.” — from Find Your Why by Simon Sinek

They actually believe in it

You can’t fake it and make it as a remote team. Let’s go back to that game of tug-of-war — if you’re not putting every ounce of your weight into the effort, failure’s nearly guaranteed. And we’re not talking the do-over kind of failure; we’re talking total-team-implosion kind of failure.💣

Don’t decide to work remotely because it’s fashionable. Don’t do it as an experiment. Do it because you’re seriously passionate about the idea.

The successful remote team believes, from top to bottom, that a remote workforce will ultimately create greater success for the business.

They believe that they:

  • get more work done
  • have fewer distractions
  • stay more focused
  • save money (for themselves and for the company)
  • are happier people

Are these things true? Not always. But you’ve got to truly believe in what you’re doing to achieve positive results.

They communicate — a lot

The most cohesive and productive remote teams find ways to make conversations happen regardless of barriers.

Often teams use the same chat program, engaging with team members in a way that feels like one continuous, convivial conversation (pleasantries implied/optional).

They align their work schedules or, if in different time zones, set up regular times to meet. And while they may keep impromptu online meetings and conference calls short and sweet, they’re not ever afraid to say, “Hey, let’s talk.”

Getting the job done well means figuring out how team members work best, individually and together. What happens next is that this quality teamwork becomes habit. And being immersed in a team means being immersed in, and more dedicated to, one’s work.

They find what works

Nothing hurts more than investing time (forget the money) into learning and adopting a tool that is supposed to make you a better team, only to find out that it’s not what your team needs, or simply that nobody uses it.

Be skeptical of productivity tools that try to sell themselves as an end-all solution for your whole team and for every project. These tend to be complex, heavy pieces of software that have big learning curves and high rates of failed adoption. If you’re going to adopt anything that requires training or lots of setup, beware.

The best tools for your remote team are lightweight and are tailored to make remote interactions faster, more direct, and simpler. The less each one relies on yet more software from that same vendor the better.

You’ve got this, right?

Sure you do. With our crystal ball, we can already see the result.

Have a remote team that needs better tools? Try Droplr for free.


Originally published at droplr.com on October 26, 2017.