How to get the most out of your remote team

Written by Staszek Kolarzowski

Staszek Kolarzowski’s photo

How to get the most out of your remote team

Working with a remote team is both easy and valuable when you have the right tools and processes.

As a founder and entrepreneur, it’s important to spend time and energy on what’s most valuable: building the right product.

To help improve your focus on the vision, you’ve probably considered—or even hired—remote employees. But despite the distance, it’s crucial your team members collaborate with one another effectively.

As a remote company from day one, we’ve learned that the right processes and tools make a world of difference. Here’s how to work better outside the four walls.

Start with a simple onboarding.

Good remote workers typically use their intuition and experience to integrate seamlessly into a team. That said, it’s important to provide input and guidance—at least in the very beginning—to orientate your workers towards the company’s goals.

We’re talking about the nuts and bolts here: what tools to use, when to provide status updates, and so on. Keep the onboarding process as simple as possible, and make sure it reflects your preferred work style.

Document and share everything.

An important habit of any founder, whether working with in-house or remote employees, is to document general company information and make it easily accessible.

This habit helps the onboarding process immeasurably, as a new employee can gather information as and when they need it. It also helps breed a culture of sharing, which will help your business grow and prosper.

Promote direct contact.

When work starts, it’s important that your remote employee has direct contact to a sparring partner—at all times. This can be another designer or developer, a team lead, or even the CEO.

Encourage them to ping this partner on their preferred channel, whether that’s Slack or email, whenever they need help.

Put simply, this approach gets stuff done quicker. Managers are often bottlenecks, and a bottleneck is the last thing you or a remote employee wants. Direct contact is always best.

Organize regular tech talks and demos.

These meetings help the company maintain a strong culture, allow people to learn new skills and stay up to date with other people have shipped. It’s a great perk for remote workers, as it’s their chance to feel included and to say “hi” to people they usually don’t see.

Arrange weekly 1:1s.

As your relationship with employees grows, and as they become more embedded into the company, consider holding regular one-on-ones.

Much like tech talks and demos, 1:1s are a very inclusive experience for people that aren’t situated physically at your office. They let both you and them provide feedback and assess processes, goals, and other company mechanics moving forward.

Meet in person.

If you can, organise a get-together for the entire team at least twice a year. Not only is this the most enjoyable way of meeting all remote employees in person, it’s also a great opportunity to hold a keynote or dinner to discuss the accomplishments and aspirations of the company. It’s all about making them feel included and valued, as well as inspired to deliver great work way into the future.

Use the right tools.

To achieve the very best results, the right people and processes must be teamed with the right tools. Here’s what helps Pilot stay connected, inspired and productive.

Slack

With lots of integrations and customisations, we’ve made Slack our main communication channel. It allows our team to stay up to date with the latest developments.

Google Docs

All of our need-to-know information can be found there. Annotations and superior organisation make it much more versatile than standard Word documents.

Tapes

A picture is worth a thousand words, but Tapes makes our communication even more efficient with short narrated screencasts. Think bug reports, tech support, or attachments to almost anything on screen.

Asana

Asana is a project management tool with everything you need to orchestrate a team. It lets us invite other people to projects and tasks, leave comments that @-mention them, and set priorities and deadlines. We even organize daily standups there!

Google Hangouts

We opt for Hangouts over Skype for its reliability, easy integration with Google Calendar and because it works in the browser. We conduct our employee interviews with Hangouts, and host all of our tech talks and demos there, too.


Working remotely has never been easier. But the most successful products are always built by people whose ideas, emotions, inspirations, concerns are communicated—and worked on—clearly.