Strategies for Building Excellent Remote Teams
Ten years ago, we wouldn’t have recommended building a remote organization; however, with advances in video chat tools and various SaaS applications it is now preferable in our view to create remote teams. Here are our top learnings in how to create strong remote cultures that perform more effectively than office-based organizations.
It all starts with on-boarding. We believe that remote first organizations must include time in the initial period for new hires to connect with peers and managers face-to-face. This could be a number of trips to visit key colleagues and spend time co-working or a single trip to a geographical area where multiple peers are working from home and rotating between folks.
The time of getting to know each other’s body language, tonality and subtle communication cues becomes invaluable later when primarily interacting on video.
Beyond on-boarding, tools matter. Remote organizations need outstanding solutions for video chat, chat, project management, and pipeline tracking at a minimum. Our preferred tools can be found in this post. These are crucial to seamless communication on an ongoing basis. It is preferable to do most communication on videochat.
Seven percent of a message is conveyed in words, 38% in tone and 55% in body language, which means that calls and texts are far inferior conveyors of meaning and much more likely to be negatively misinterpreted.
Also, it is crucial to have a culture that takes great notes. In office environments, spontaneous conversation starts and the relevant people overhear and join in. In remote (or mixed) teams, smaller side-pockets often discuss a topic and then others fall out of the loop unless thorough notes are recorded and distributed consistently.
Lastly, while remote teams can outperform due to high degrees of autonomy and more focused time without a commute, it is often overlooked how important it is to spend some time in person. We suggest at least quarterly team retreats for a few days to connect and enjoy the social aspects of collaboration in closer proximity.
Prime Movers Lab invests in breakthrough scientific startups founded by Prime Movers, the inventors who transform billions of lives. We invest $1mm-$3mm in seed-stage companies reinventing energy, transportation, infrastructure, manufacturing, human augmentation and computing.