Coronavirus has turned on the shutdown mode for a whole world.
Technology giants have already sent employees home and switched to remote working. And thousands of companies will follow this example, especially startups.
But at the same time, the quarantine mode means a lot for “in-house services” companies like Amazon and Netflix. Despite the virus, they can boost up their sales.
But how to manage a remote team effectively to be able not only to weather the storm but to profit during these hard times?
Let’s take a look at what we are going to discuss:
Examples of managing the remote teams from top tier companies
How to manage your team efficiently?
Useful tips to beat COVID-19
It helps you to keep running your business continuously, wherever you or your team is – at the office or at home.
Which companies already manage remote teams?
So, managing the remote teams is not new to digital product companies. And the virus has no hand in it.
Some of your favorite companies were remote from the very start. GitLab, Buffer, or Zapier are 100% successful and 100% remote teams.
But the circumstances of early 2020 have already left their mark on the entire IT industry. Global companies have begun to place their units under quarantine.
Microsoft and Expedia sent more than 80% of employees to work from home.
A little less – from 34% to 76% of workers work remotely for such giants as Amazon, Uber, Facebook, and Google.
Twitter has also virtually shut down employee offices, and Apple has sent 12,000 California headquarters employees to telecommuting.
But how do these trendsetters deal with the management of the remote teams?
How to migrate from office to remote model?
Nobody knows for sure how long this guidance will be in place. Therefore, you should assess the situation on an ongoing basis and provide regular updates as and when we receive additional information.
Your primary concern is to keep your employees safe and healthy while staying productive towards your mission and goals.
To ensure that your employees and managers have the support they need to work remotely, you should provide them with remote work opportunities.
Here are a few other updates and reminders for the next few weeks:
Travel: All non-essential work-related trips, including conferences, should be canceled or postponed unless approved by an Executive. Remote employees should cancel all scheduled trips to the X office, until further notice.
Events: All on-site and off-site events should be canceled. Postpone team events and off-sites until further notice.
Lunch: Companies should pause the usage of catering services. All the cafes and restaurants should be closed as well.
Equipment: Permit your employees to take office equipment home, including monitors, laptops, and PCs.
Interviews: All on-site interviews should be transitioned to Zoom interviews.
New Hires: Hiring managers should reach out to the new hires ahead of their start date. They should discuss plans for onboarding and any changes impacted by remote work.
The following tips will be useful not only if you work at the office and decide to switch to a remote model. Let’s say these principles help you to manage a remote team wherever your employees are located.
How to manage a remote team effectively?
As a Slack or GitLab examples show, you don’t need a physical office to reach the top level. But what you really need is effective communication and corporate culture. Sounds complicated?
In fact, any remote processes can be run the same way as in a physical office. Thus, team-building and goal-setting won’t make a difference wherever your team is, be it in person or via Zoom.
However, you can avoid common issues without random tries. To manage your startup team efficiently from day one, focus on the quality of the team, set of tools, and work processes.
Let’s take a closer look at each point.
The quality of the remote team
Before I started to write this article, I had to analyze a lot of cases from my own experience and those of top startups as well.
The team is still in charge of your startup performance, be it sales or development.
But how to build a dream team? There are 5 tips on finding the right people to conquer the market. Even remotely.
Hire the proactive ones
The point is that the management of a remote team requires even more attention to the most crucial things.
But in case you haven’t done your backlog, and there is a considerable time difference between you and your teammate, what are you going to do? The answer is – rely on your proactive specialist.
Yes, your goal is to hire people who can accomplish tasks without micromanagement activities. Sometimes it’s hard to find such employees. And it is only possible by crash-testing their skills.
Build trust in your team
Remote work won’t play out if you run your business in a paranoid micromanagement style.
First of all, because it’s hard to implement in the worldwide teams. Secondly, because it’s unscalable and unproductive.
But there is the way. Delegate more and focus on managing the whole process rather than on the activities of the particular specialists.
The seamless and transparent process means much more than attempts to micromanage.
Trust your teammates
Transparency helps you to trust your teammates. It is essential to set up proper tasks and disclose your vision and expectations.
On the other hand, trust alone requires the manager to be able to formulate expectations from the employee correctly.
So use your maximum probation period to make sure you find a team player that suits you and on whom you can rely.
Writing skills are required
Writing communication is the main communication channel when you work remotely. Thus, hire people who can draw reports and describe technical tasks accurately.
The social aspect is essential when you build a result-driven remote team. But let’s be honest, it isn’t as much important, as in the case of in-house cooperation.
That is why it’s vital to make sure that your teammates won’t burn out without everyday live conversations with other coworkers.
Tools to run business continuously
The valid set of tools is another crucial factor of your successful remote work.
You need to automate and fix up each step of the workflow to avoid misunderstanding and untrustworthy.
There are many tools for project management and team collaboration. I highly recommend a few proven ones that we use in our daily work with remote teams across the globe.
It’s one of the most rapidly growing SaaS companies in the world. The reason is simple – it offers a user-friendly solution that covers everything any team may need. It’s a virtual office.
When your Slack status is active, it means that you are at work. It is a simple principle that helps to communicate and solve issues.
Multiple channels that allow talking to everyone or someone, in particular, make Slack a must-have tool for any remote team.
I’ll tell you more, the channels like “Fun” or “Random” make it possible to create a live and active environment in your small community.
Trello is a simple project management tool. If anyone wants to check the feature status or to suggest a new feature or understand on what page the team is – all these things can be managed with Trello.
It’s easy to do if you determine the acceptance criteria for each feature and set up a single card for a single feature.
Even if it’s a pretty complicated thing, it’s easier to look at a to-do list rather than discover the enormous amount of cards.
Both Google Docs and Google Spreadsheets are great tools to create all kinds of project-related documents, including project requirements, data to analyze, or project suggestions.
The main advantage of G Suite is the easy-to-share environment that allows keeping an entire team on the same page with the product owner.
It includes everything related to the project in terms of code development. To achieve transparency, we plan features in Trello and describe the flow in Google Docs.
Another simple yet powerful product. If you handle data to several products with many devs and managers in different time zones, it’s essential to make access to any project as easy as possible.
Usage of this tool makes it possible to allow access to any of your current projects without knowing credentials.
We use a lot of tools for calls and video conferences – Skype, Google Hangouts, and so on. These all are handy tools you can use.
Yet, Zoom is a perfect choice for a “high-load” video conferences to unite all your teammates in one call.
Importance of scalable work processes
The quality of workflow is crucial for remote team coworking. The reason is simple – the more structured and transparent your processes are, the more rapid your growth is.
The quality of business processes means the structure that allows each member of the team to work efficiently and achieve their goals without undue control.
A well-tuned process means that the performers understand the significance of the task. Then they complete it in accordance with the acceptance criterion and receive valuable feedback on what can be improved next time.
But what lies behind this process?
Obvious thing – every team action has one primary goal – to satisfy the end-user. But how to make managing and development even more customer-driven?
The answer is in constant mentoring of less experienced specialists. But it works productively in both directions – it would be useful for mentors to receive feedback as well.
It’s important to understand that behind the code is value. And value is intended for people, for your users. Thus, all your processes are also intended for users.
And the continuous improvement of processes, ongoing training, and the creation of an environment that enables personal growth (and the growth of the company’s values) makes it possible to conquer new peaks.
Weekly team meetings
This kind of meeting is essential to keep the whole team on the same page. It helps to identify any sort of issues at the very beginning and fix them as soon as possible.
Also, it bonds your team members in the process of sharing personal feelings, ideas, and expectations.
It’s something like weekly meetings but in a more personalized way. It helps to keep teammates engaged with the product and feel their own value in the team. At least, it’s great to have a chance to discuss personal concerns and avoid burning out.
Building a corporate culture at a distance
Try to create an engaging culture. Congratulate your teammates personally, send them gifts with corporate identity.
Yes, you can be halfway around the world, but agree – it’s inspiring to get such a gift from your colleagues.
Of course, it’s very cool to bring together all the team members at least once a year.
In the complex – each activity will allow you to create a holistic structure for managing a remote team.
The team, tools, and processes will work in harmony and allow you to grow wherever you (and your employees) are.
And believe me, no virus will prevent you from having fun and fruitful working if you put enough effort into teamwork.
But just in case – a few tips on how to protect yourself and your team.
How to beat COVID-19?
Many countries all over the world are under quarantine. And it affects business and startups a lot. But each crisis, in fact, provides new business opportunities.
However, before you’ll do business, do preventive health care activities first. Here are everyday actions to help prevent the spread of respiratory viruses:
Wash your hands frequently with soap and water for at least 20 seconds and/or use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.
Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or sleeve when coughing or sneezing.
Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
Stay home when you are sick.
Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces.
What happens next, when the quarantine is over?
Coronavirus pandemic changes the work culture across the globe right now.
In fact, it has already introduced a remote model in the daily life of many companies that earlier had no clue that business can be run that way.
But on the other hand, it’s a crash test on how efficiently you can adapt and use the business environment for the company’s growth and prosperity.