Five things successful distributed teams have in common
More and more companies are starting to work in distributed teams, as they’re looking to reach a global pool of talent and service clients in multiple time zones. Working across geographical boundaries and time zones can become a competitive advantage when you’re trying to reach a global audience, but it also comes with challenges. In this piece we explore five things successful distributed teams share.
1. Tools for the digital workplace
In a remote setting, communication is key. Relying solely on email is not efficient. With team members and clients spread across different timezones, your inbox will quickly fill up with messages, making it hard to stay eloquent, organised and productive. Your team will likely rely on different tools to get work done and for day to day interactions. Both synchronous and asynchronous communication are important.
An eSignature tool will often help you avoid the hassle of scanning or sending physical documents back and forth.
2. Trust & transparency
When hiring for a distributed team you’ll want to work with people who have a track record of getting things done. Trust is essential, when you’re not sharing the same office with your colleagues and results are not measured by the number of hours spent in the office. With trust, comes the responsibility of getting things done.
Accountability is built on trust and trust is built on transparency. In an open and transparent culture people can communicate freely and enjoy quick access to the information they need to get their best work done.
Many teams favour an agile approach, where each team member posts what they’ve accomplished that week, what they’ll be working on next week, as well as any issues they’ve come across.
Good processes are important for providing structure and not reinventing the wheel. However, processes should not be rigid or set in stone, blocking innovation (aka “we’ve always done it this way”).
4. Core hours
When you’re working across multiple time zones, most work hours will not overlap. Some core hours might be useful though to easily organise meetings and resolve urgent matters.
Successful distributed teams regularly have all hands and team meetings, as well as one-on-ones to align on company and career goals. Recording meetings is often a good idea, so team members who couldn’t join the live events may be able to check them out.
In person interactions are also extremely valuable. Many companies have regular retreats where the whole team get together to better know each other, work on projects, have fun and celebrate their accomplishments. Smaller teams might also have their own trips to align and work together.
In the end, companies find their own recipes for working in distributed teams, with the best ones building unique cultures along the way.
What are some of your tips?