The future of work for remote teams, especially in technical and creative fields is remote working. Remote working let’s you hire or collaborate with talented people from all over the world, or just in your country, without the overheads of relocating. It also saves you from filtering out great fits because they don’t happen to be in a certain location.
That’s why on a chilly spring day in March, I presented a talk on agile remote team work – without losing your marbles at Agile in Leeds. The venue was packed, the audience were amazing and I can’t thank Emily Webber enough for ably running the show.
Here’s my 3 steps to working productively as a team when you don’t all work from the same space.
Step 1: Hire the right people
Q: You wouldn’t hire just anyone to (fur) baby sit, what do you look for in a potential sitter?
- Responsible adults – People who do, are trustworthy and are independent.
- Smart creatives – People who can highlight problems *and* bring solutions to the table.
- Right mindset for remote work – People who don’t need the office environment (or are happy to recreate it through other means like co-working).
Step 2: In the right environment
Q: Have you ever brought home some supermarket herbs that didn’t thrive?
- Be adult about dealing with problems – don’t let things fester, healthy group dynamics are at the heart of successful remote working.
- Mind the micromanaging – this goes back to trust and productivity, focus on what people are producing not on ensuring you wring 8 hours out of them.
- Remove barriers to productivity – environment (encourage coworking if needed and good working spaces), clear leadership (be a good scrum master, remove barriers and have clarity about task allocation or selection), staff wellbeing (make sure work life balance is retained and have good employee resources to manage stress), regular face to face (meet regularly to co-work together and bond).
Step 3: With the right tools
Q: Have you ever watched a professional at work?
- Develop good processes around key needs (especially documents, tools, HR, health & safety).
- Streamline your tools (find what works well for your team, mix it up, but don’t go mad).
- Eat the elephant (Understand that this is a continuous group effort and take small steps).
These approaches have kept us at Open Data Services on the straight and narrow (today is our 1st anniversary!) and we review these as we grow our team (from 7 to 9 soon). Find out what works best for you and remember, keep working at it.