How to deal with remote teams?
I would highlight the four main types of remote teams:
- Remote PM. your team is located together in one place and you, a product manager, in another.
- Pure remote team. Your team and you located in multiple places, everybody works from home.
- Partly remote. Some people work in the office, some work from home in multiple locations.
- Multiple dev teams in multiple offices.
#1. Remote PM. your team is located together in one place and you, a product manager, in another.
I think it is the most difficult. Especially, if you and your team are in different time zones. The dev team is a team with its own group dynamics. You may feel that you are cut off the team. The ideal is to meet your team in person to establish the connection. It would be the best start. Because when you see a person, you create a human connection. It is much much harder to build this type of connection looking at the email. If you don’t have an opportunity to meet your team, use video conferences. It will allow you to see and show mimics, smiles, gestures. The non-verbal part of the communications is super important, try to preserve it in digital communications. You will need to establish a personal connection with each team member first. Schedule 1:1 to understand the needs and thoughts of each of your colleagues. Get to know not only professionals but also people. Don’t jump into conclusions, because there will be a lot of tricky situations. Empathize, ask questions, be transparent. Describe why you need the information or why you ask the question. The context you provide, the more clear you will be.
Case #2 – Pure remote team.
Your team and you located in multiple places, everybody works from home. In this case, there could be no team at first, just a group of people. What’s the difference between a team and a group of people you may ask. Team has one goal, group dynamics. Group of people is just connected by any property. So 5 developers may or may not be a team. In the pure remote teams, you need to build a team and personal connections in parallel. You need to define what is accepted and what not for this team. You need to define how communications work.
Case #3 Working with partly remote teams
People work in the office, some work from home in multiple locations. The mixed environment. At the same time, everybody should feel and act like one team. You need to make sure that people who work from home feel themselves a part of the team. Each time when somebody forgets to include the remote worker to the meeting, you lose a fraction of the team spirit. Use video calls to create a feeling of presence for everybody. Make sure you don’t forget and gather all opinions. Probably, home workers will need a little bit more attention from you. So they can feel a team spirit, so they can feel that they are the part of the team.
Case # 4 Multiple dev teams in multiple offices.
This is a tricky one. Multiple dev teams can position themselves as us vs them. Which is not ok if you are the one team. If you are located in one of the dev offices, you may be automatically attached to one of the dev teams. It is super important to be consistent with all the teams. Don’t let yourself to have a favorite team. Use “we”, “us”, “our” in your conversation with all teams, so they understand that you do not divide them by any means❤️. You see all of them as one big team. It will take time to build a team, so don’t be hard on yourself.