Over the years, Scenic West has been a primarily remote team. While today we do have a home office in Chattanooga, TN and some employees get together on a weekly basis, we are still geographically dispersed and some of our team members are even digital nomads. As remote teams have increased over the past few years, we’ve noticed more and more people discussing the best ways to manage an office-less team and keep morale and productivity high. As we have such a great amount of experience in this area, we wanted to offer our advice–
Try virtual daily stand-ups
When teams are dispersed across different time zones or have different working hours, try replacing daily stand-ups or check-in meetings with a Slack channel. You can set a reminder or placeholder meeting on everyone’s calendar or even use a tool that sends reminders via Slack. The idea is to have each team member post what they did yesterday, what they plan to do today, and any blockers they have. The creates team transparency, but avoids the burden of a 15 minute meeting that might be at an awkward time for some or require a lot of scheduling around to attend. When teams do work the same hours each day, a quick 15 minute video call standup can still be a powerful way to align and motivate for the day ahead but it’s not the only option for remote teams.
Build office camaraderie through virtual activities & occasional in-person gatherings
Despite being remote, it is still important for team members to build personal connections and a sense of team spirit. One of our favorite tools is our #watercooler Slack channel. We encourage our employees to use this to discuss anything they’d like with their fellow employees. We also throw virtual happy hours and host friendly digital competitions. These small gestures allow us to build a stronger team despite the distance. Lastly, we strive to get the entire team together twice a year to co-work and do fun activities together. Our last team gathering included co-working, a brand photoshoot, a boat day, and lots of meals out together.
Champion communication, transparency, and respect
One of the most important aspects of remote team work is creating a culture open communication, transparency, and respect. It is imperative that everyone feels comfortable asking questions and speaking up when something needs attention. In order to ensure work gets done quickly and efficiently, we need honesty and transparency about the work being done and when someone needs help from their team members. Here are some of our favorite tools for communication:
- We’ve already mentioned how heavily we utilize Slack for chatting
- Trello for managing to do lists, communicating what is in progress, or needs review
- Google Drive for document collaboration
- Figma for design collaboration
- FigJam for brainstorm sessions or diagramming
Hire self-motivated and helpful remote team members
One of Scenic West’s secrets to success is a focus on self-motivation and helpfulness when recruiting remote team members. Remote teams work best when each person proactively identifies what needs to be done, communicates well with the group, and offers help where they can. This can difference between a highly performing team and one that struggles to meet goals, but is full of smart individuals.
While managing remote teams certainly poses unique challenges, we’ve found that with a few tweaks for the digital era, we’ve been able to create teams that work efficiently and well.