Remote working teams face a few challenges. Conveying tone can be a challenge. After all, if you spend all day communicating with people through text alone, it’s easy to miss the nuances behind what they’re saying.
But most instant messaging apps (including our own AnswerConnect.App) allow you to include pictures, emojis, and GIFs in your messages, so there’s less room for misinterpretation - we love an emoji!
The most common issue when everyone works from a respective location, however, is something I call The Workload Iceberg. You know how it goes; a colleague is working on a small part of a project with you. “Heck,” you reason, “they’re only working on a small part. They could probably take on more responsibility.”
But your colleague could also be working on several other time-consuming projects in other areas of the company. You’re only seeing the tip of their workload because you’re not involved in the other projects. To avoid this, we ask everyone to share ‘Updates’ through the internal comms app (mentioned below). Essentially designed to act as a social media feed, status updates enable everyone to share their current workload (and priorities) with everyone in the company.
Besides that, we try to avoid prioritising one time-zone.
With people based across three continents, you have to consider everyone before you start scheduling meetings. I think if one team had to do all the late night or early morning calls each time, they’d have grounds to complain!
Friday newsletters, instant access to HR, & the use of GIFs in comms, Fraser and the AnswerConnect team could write a book on remote work best practices. Check out the process of how they make it all work.
Read full interview from Company Interview with Fraser, Global Head of Marketing at AnswerConnect.
Like in our personal life, company life has its ups and downs. I feel that it is harder to re-motivate everybody when fully remote. It's much harder to create the energy necessary to get out of these moments quickly. A larger company may be able to glide for some time, but as a small team and bootstrap company, we cannot really afford the wasted productivity.
I also feel that spontaneous creativity moments are harder. These kinds of moments where a discussion drifts to a brainstorming session and new ideas come out of it.
I feel that as a company evolving in a very competitive market, we must always provide innovative solutions, and not having these moments perhaps robs us of some good ideas.
From making employees shareholders to letting workers take control of their roles, Maxime describes Digicoop's path to remote success.
Read full interview from Company Interview with Maxime, Co-founder and CTO of Digicoop.
I’ve personally had a lot of trouble striking a work-life balance.
It’s very tempting to drag work until 10 pm, especially with the neverending to-dos of a startup.
It’s worse when days are packed with meetings; sometimes, I end the day feeling like I’ve gotten nothing done because I have tasks sitting in our Trello. I’ve struggled to call a cut-off time, especially since my desk is two feet from my bed.
I wouldn’t say that’s the hardest part about remote work, though. Based on the 500+ interviews we’ve conducted with remote managers, the hardest part of remote work is creating trust and tight relationships when you never meet face-to-face. My team is lucky, we all went to UCLA together, but many remote teams have never met up in person.
Class is in session! Corine and her team have been studying how to incorporate remote work in their startup for months. Learn about the effective remote work practices she and the team are implementing in their new company.
Read full interview from Company Interview with Corine, co-founder of Sike Insights.
When we change the way we work, becoming isolated can become a factor in the early stages. It can happen from the newly minted remote employee to a telecommuting veteran.
Even though we are ten years into this type of environment, it can happen.
We course correct in this area by staying connected and reaching out to our team members when needed. This provides us with an opportunity to talk through an idea or simply check-in to make sure things are okay.
For example, many of our internal teams have group chats and interact throughout the day, share light-hearted stories, or ask work-related questions for the team to weigh in.
For 10 years, BELAY has been a 100% remote work company. CEO, Tricia, shares the tools that keep them thriving and how boundaries & expectations contribute to their success.
Read full interview from Company Interview with Tricia, CEO of BELAY.
The biggest challenge in a remote environment is creating a company culture and paying attention to mental health.
People are not always in your face like in an office environment, and there is no mutual checking in.
There are also fewer opportunities to hang out together, to have a drink or a party. You have to work harder to provide similar opportunities for connection and check in on your people.
A lot of managers are not equipped to "get personal" with their team, and this is a much-needed requirement in this era.
With DistantJob, Sharon has created a mistake-friendly environment where managers lead by example. See his tips for building trust and security among his remote teams.
Read full interview from Company Interview with Sharon Koifman, CEO of DistantJob.
Effective remote working requires more than great tech and tools; it requires the right working practices and behaviors, as well as a collaborative and transparent culture.
We avoid challenges by having a clear set of co-created Guiding Principles as a business that essentially sets out our rules for working together, transparently, and on the basis of outcomes.
Remote work is built into Rainmaker Solutions' DNA. See the beliefs that push this company forward & check out their virtual activities that are building organizational trust.
Read full interview from Company Interview with Jan, founder and CEO of Rainmaker Solutions.
It’s hard to replicate a group working session with a whiteboard.
Sometimes, when hashing through something challenging on a project, or working to come up with creative solutions, it would be nice to be huddled around a whiteboard with the project team.
We’ve found video calls with Zoom, and screen sharing, is a great way to work through those challenges when working remotely.
A challenging time finding talented local employees gave Brad the idea to make WebDevStudios 100% remote—hear about his strategies for creating a healthy remote work culture.
Read full interview from Company Interview with Brad, co-founder and CEO of WebDevStudios.
As with fellow distributed companies, we face challenges of communication and collaboration, but we've been able to develop processes that address these challenges for our team.
However, as our team continues to grow, some best practices that worked even last year need an evolution, and we're working on those now.
The important part for us is identifying those challenges quickly, and keeping our whole team informed and engaged along the way as we work towards solutions.
Another remote team challenge we're currently focusing on is documenting decisions and the decision-making process.
With Workplaceless, Tammy helps companies start off on the "right remote foot." Hear how her 100% remote team stays in sync, and how she keeps her employees engaged
Read full interview from Company Interview with Tammy, CEO of Workplaceless, and a remote work leader.
Vietnam has a dominant family structure where they believe that the welfare of the family as a whole is more important than individuals. The most elderly have the strongest voice.
Family members are expected to contribute to the whole family income, and each may have a designated role. If you have been sponsored by your family to obtain a university degree, you are expected to use these skills to support your extended family.
Since the Vietnamese are very hard-working people, it is not uncommon that they work two jobs simultaneously. This means that many developers might face pressure from the family to crack on a few extra freelance hours every night after they finish their day job.
This is not constructive from our point of view. We need devs who sleep well and take their mind off programming in their time off. If you work 12-14 hour days, the quality of your code suffers, and efficiency declines.
We found that by paying people properly, treating them with respect, and having a firm but fair attitude, this cultural variation is negotiable.
We implemented a scheme where we try to give our devs short-time, interesting tasks, and a focus on producing working software from every developer task iteration. These are all agile procedures.
This made it easier to measure individual developer's lead-times during the iteration as to spot when a dev's output was changing and what could be the reason for this.
A three-hour work commute motivated Jan to establish a full-on remote work arrangement for his company. What have been the benefits & challenges? See his takeaways!
Read full interview from Company Interview with Jan Fex, CEO of DotDee Digital.
Keeping the team connected and engaged. Remote companies do have to work harder at things like communication and creating interactions between folks on the team. Employees also have to make more of an effort to reach out to their colleagues, which for some folks is harder to do through a screen. It takes a lot of effort from both parties, and it’s not easy (but totally worth it).
Serendipity. In remote work, pretty much all brainstorms are scheduled. But when you’re working at an office, you’re having impromptu conversations at lunch, happy hour, at the “watercooler.” It’s hard to replicate those unplanned interactions at remote companies.
I believe the best remote companies continue to experiment with new ways to connect different parts of the team in different ways.
You can achieve connection, engagement, serendipity, but it requires leaders to think creatively and be willing to experiment.
How do you keep remote teams motivated? Devin, CEO of Animalz, shares her tips for how leaders can avoid demotivation and her hopes for the future of remote work.
Read full interview from Company Interview with Devin, CEO of Animalz.
Keep your remote working skills sharp—get notified when we post the next remote work interview! RemoteHabits will help you achieve your remote work goals!