10 quick tips on how to manage your remote Teams

Due to the Coronavirus pandemia the whole world is going remote. Remote work can be effective (even more than working from the office), but there are a couple of rules that you have to take to ensure that.You might think that remote work is dedicated to the Development Team but that's not actually true - other teams - Sales, Marketing, HR etc. can work remotely too, but in order to keep it all effective it's crucial to implement the below tips to the whole organization.

It's also a very challenging time for the Board - CEOs, CTOs, COOs and the whole C-level group. They need to be transparent, available, agile and very careful.


1. Set up the Core hours

Your company is like a living organism - you have to make sure the communication inside it is fluent. Setting up the core hours is one of the easiest solutions you can bring. Determine from 4 up to 6 hours of daily time when everyone is available. The worst thing that can happen to you in remote work is when someone that you really need at the moment is not available and you don’t know what’s going on.


2. Be transparent

Use and share your calendar. You can always share the information that you are busy (if you can’t share all the details), but make sure that if you don’t reply you have a reason. Remember the more you will be transparent to your team - the team will be more transparent to you.


3. Be the ambassador of transparency

If you work from the office everyone knows pretty well where you are. If you are not at your desk, you are probably at the meeting or in the kitchen etc. To summarize - you can be found quite easily.

But in remote work it is not the case. If you won’t be available for the next half an hour or longer (lunch, some emergency etc.) and it is not listed on the calendar - let your colleagues know when you will be back. Be the role model of changes, not the ruler.


4. Don’t miss teams daily meetings & 4a. What to do if you have to miss it

The worst thing that could affect the teams’ efficiency is to make them feel they are not needed. You should attend every daily meeting and show them that nothing changes during remote work. We still have goals for today and should accomplish them.

If you can’t be there - write your summary - what you did yesterday and what you will be working on today. You can always ask them to write their own summary too - so everyone is transparent across the team (and it’s easier to check progress the team makes each day).


5. Set up your workspace and proper clothes.

Your apartment is now your office. If you’re lucky you have a separate room. If you’re not - you need to set up your dedicated work space. Working from your sofa is not the best idea…

Also, pay attention to your clothes - don’t spend your working hours in pyjamas - wear clothes that you normally wear when you go to your company. (Plus here’s a tip for women - if you normally wear makeup - do it while you work at home office too! Otherwise you might feel anxious when you get an unplanned video call… :))

home office


6. Try to set up the call instead of messaging everyone

Sometimes it’s easier to ask than wasting time on describing the problem and finding the solution. In remote work try to arrange quick calls if you have any questions - it’s pretty the same as if you approach a team member and ask him/her the same question. But this way he can tell you if he is busy at the moment or if you can talk.


7. Double ask to update progress

Jira, Trello, Asana etc. You are probably using one of these on your daily basis. Ask your team twice to update it carefully. Tell them that as long as you see the progress on the task board you won’t be asking about the status.

You can always ask them if they want any more statuses in the task board. It could help them to present you the progress.


8. Split the tasks

You should always do that but in remote work it is even more important. If your team has tasks that could take all day long it is hard to check the progress (if the results are expected at the end of the day). Try to split them so they are estimated to be finished in around half a day.


9. Use mood boards online

Try to use online tool to substitute working with the whiteboards (f.e. Mural) - remote work is not an excuse to work differently. Use technology as much as you can.


10. Trust instead of control

It is your team that spend the time to work on your project. To respect them and trust that they will work. The more you control them the more opportunities to cheat they will find.

OK, we described 10 Tips and best practices that you should implement if you want to keep your workflow on the good, efficient level.

Below we decided to give you something extra - very detailed practices and rules that we use in order to communicate and work on a daily basis with no chaos and confusion.


ADDITIONAL RULES OF SOFTWARE BROTHERS

  1. Everyone working at home office must be available in core hours from 9 AM till 3 PM.
  2. Everyone starting work says hello upon starting work and goodbye when they finish work on the #homeoffice channel on Slack.
  3. If you want to take a break in your work for more than 15 minutes, say on the channel when you will be back.
  4. Each team, on their dedicated public channel, e.g. #community-MD5, takes part in synchro or scrum events.
  5. Every scrum event - daily/retro/review etc. is set in the calendar - the meetings are happening as usual, but remotely.
  6. Everyone updates tempo in JIRA at the end of the day.
  7. Each team leader works closely with the PM/COO to improve information flow. If there is no PM or COO at the meeting, the meeting is moderated by the team leader.
  8. Keep the statuses of stories, epics and issues updated - this is the key information for PO.


Bonus: Find time for a small talk

Remote teams may feel loneliness and isolation, so it’s worth finding some time for a small talk with every member of the team. It will be hard to do that every day but your colleagues need a sense of belonging to their team and the whole organization and it is your role to ensure that.


Summary

This list of tips will surely help you manage your remote team. And if you haven't worked in this model before, it might be a great test for your company. You'll be able to verify the effectiveness of remote work in order to decide wisely if you want to keep that model after the pandemia is over.

Stay at home and stay healthy!