Managing remote teams and offices in 3 easy steps

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Having remote teams and offices usually mean growth, which is a good thing. However, it does come with its unique set of challenges. We mapped those challenges for you and got you the best tips for overcoming them, from our fastest growing customers. 

When Lou Hoffman, head of Hoffman.com global PR Company moved with his family to open their UK branch, he learned firsthand what it felt like to be the guy in the overseas office. Leigh Buchanan describes his experience in her interview with him for Inc.com. “One thing Hoffman discovered is that they (overseas employees) felt the occasional pangs of neglect. For example, he knew that when corporate e-mail servers crashed, time zone differences meant global staff might have to wait hours for resumption of service. Sitting pretty in Silicon Valley, Hoffman had deemed those delays acceptable. But in London, deprived of e-mail for hours while he waited for the U.S. office to open, he changed his mind.”

This sincere anecdote demonstrates how even today, managing remote or distributed teams poses many challenges. The biggest challenge of all is ensuring that the remote team stays a real part of the company. Staying in sync, with both tasks and goals is hard. When managing a company with teams in more than one location, you are constantly trying to avoid set-backs caused by lack of sync and enhanced by time zone differences. Based on our experience from working with hundreds of managers and thousands of employees, here are some early signs of remote team challenges.

Test yourself: Do I suffer from early signs of remote team management

  • Sign #1: Searching for new tools
    Are you constantly looking for new tools to get everyone on the same page? For example live communication tools, knowledge sharing tools, collaboration tools and collaborative task management tools.
  • Sign #2: Composing updates
    Are you spending at least an hour a day composing summaries to get remote team up to speed? And do you often get their feedback only 24 hours after sending, including follow-up questions and pushbacks?
  • Sign #3: Unclear ownership
    When tasks are delayed, do you know who to turn to for answers, or is it hard to figure out who was in charge of what?

If you answered at least one of these questions with a Yes, you might be facing some challenges in managing your remote teams. But don’t worry, here are great tips to help you overcome these challenges.

Successfully managing remote teams in 3 easy steps

1. Create one roadmap for all
Create a single roadmap for the entire company, as oppose to one for Marketing, one for R&D, one for Product and so on. This roadmap must be communicated and accessible to everyone in the company. This way all teams in all locations are aligned towards the same goals. It keeps everyone focused and creates a sense of being part of one united effort.

2. Update around topics, not people
Instead of creating updates for people, create updates around topics or projects. This will save you a lot of time. If you make these updates accessible in one place for all relevant team members to see, you’ll save more time. Putting updates in one place means you don’t have to send dozens of emails and then track all answers. Instead, team members can review the updates relevant to them, and even comment and discuss in one central place. Updating around topics or projects, lets teams easily take any task from A to Z through all different departments and teams, with each one adding their relevant contribution.

3. Establish one united knowledge base
This is a real game changer and especially useful for companies who are onboarding many new employees. Since you are probably already using some type of knowledge sharing tool, use it to make sure there is one place for all the knowledge people need to get their work done. When all relevant knowledge is in one central place, there are no knowledge gaps and no time wasted on fill-me-in conference calls.

How dapulse helps its customers — and can help you — easily manage remote teams

dapulse translated all the above into one single solution. On dapulse every single person in the company can clearly see the roadmap and understand where they fit in. On dapulse each employee, in any location, can share and get updates on projects relevant to their work. Sharing updates creates a central knowledge based accessible to everyone. On dapulse, everyone is always on the same page.

  • One tool for updates and sharing

dapulse is a cross-company platform, where everyone contributes updates on their ongoing progress and subscribes only to the topics relevant to them. This means everyone stays updated on what they need to know, but are not overwhelmed with information. Our customers say that using dapulse dramatically reduces emails, conference calls and time spent on updating. It also means that when Jay, your mobile team leader in SF turns on his computer, any hour of night or day, all new specs are already awaiting him and his team can start working right away.

  • Constructed updates around topics

Since information in dapulse is constructed around topics (of your choice) it’s easy to take things from A to Z. A new feature, for example, can be a topic, for the various departments working on it each kick in at the relevant stage and add their progress updates for all relevant team members to see.
This way Sarah, your London based designer, gets notified as it’s her turn to work on New Homepage, with everything she needs already awaiting her in dapulse, including the process that led to each decision, so she doesn’t need to wait for morning in the US to ask “why did you decide to go with this logo or that top menu”.

  • Easy tracking

When a team member updates on their progress in daPulse, they can always tag the next person who needs to give feedback, take it from there or sign off on the project. This way, things don’t fall between the cracks and indication of holdups surfaces fast and with complete transparency.

The most important thing is, to remember the basic work practices that took you from small to big and from big to bigger – like direct communication, transparency and real time collaboration – and find the tools and methods to maintain them as you grow.

Photo by: David Chau

Penny for your thoughts. Leave us a comment

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  • Ana S

    This is an informative list. Cool! I agree with the ideas being discussed on managing remote teams and offices in 3 easy steps; it will surely uplift how managing and building of remote team should be correctly implemented. Also, it will give online companies and businesses a better perspective on how to get things work and what are essentials to make it successful. But it looks like your list is half-baked as there are more new strategies and tactics on how to successfully create an online presence.

    And there’s a good alternative I can suggest and hope will also help you by any means, “How to Build And Manage Remote Teams” (http://amazingworkplace.com/27-building-and-managing-remote-teams/) that combines functionalities and solutions which will surely address to the problems on building and managing remote teams. Not trying to belittle your list but giving you new viewpoints about the topic. Good luck to all of us!

  • Acorns Tiffany

    Having virtual workers or remote workers can really be a challenge. It’s like being in a long-distance relationship, but a lot more complicated. This kind of set-up is vulnerable to misunderstandings and miscommunication. You can’t directly supervise your employees and there is the challenge of having different time zones. However, it also has it perks. One of which is that it cuts cost on maintaining an office.