How Do I Run a Remote Team?

By: Willem Delventhal

A new age question I hear a lot is “How do I run a remote team?”

Well! It’s a tricky one. But I am pleased to say that I have run a heck of a lot of teams entirely online, for the most part successfully. As I sit here sipping my coffee, I have compiled 3 quick hints for you to do it yourself well.

Hint the first: Autonomy First

One of the greatest challenges for remote teams is staying coherent and organized. In a classic office setting you can simply walk over to somebody’s desk and collaborate with them, or check for that thing you really need right this second. In online teams, however, people can and will ghost you.

So how do you keep everyone on task? Honestly, I have found that giving a high degree of autonomy has worked best for my teams. At first I would meet regularly with team members, check in on their work, ask what they needed. But more and more I’ve realized that by empowering them to seek out help when they need it, and otherwise letting them get to work, your employees and coworkers will really shine.

Hint the second: Fewer, more flexible meetings

In my first online startup I met with my team members once every morning, plus a 1 on 1 once every two weeks, plus an all hands once a week. Yeahhh. They hated it. And so did I, honestly.

These days I much prefer checking in with each other digitally, and saving meetings for the big stuff. The schedule I have found that works best is:

– One team-wide meeting to kickoff the Sprint at the start of a two week timeframe
– One 1 on 1 with my three core team members per Sprint (every two weeks)
– One “Sprint Celebration” at the end of the Sprint to showcase what we each achieved in the past two weeks.

This winds up meaning I only have 5 meetings with my team every two weeks. We of course wind up with an ad-hoc meeting here and there, and we collaborate extensively on our Discord, and they meet with each other as well. But Just 5 meetings cover 90% of what we need. Crazy, right?

Hint the third: Celebrate

Did you know that we tend to remember those things that have high emotional impact on us? This is why you can’t remember what you had for dinner last night, but you can remember that embarrassing thing that happened to you 15 years ago.

In our classrooms at the Indie Game Academy we ask all of our students to adhere to three Core Agreements, and the second of these is “Celebrate.”

By celebrating the successes of your team members and making sure to call out these successes to the rest of the team, you build a greater sense of camaraderie and kinship, which is critical in an online team.

And by the way, be sure to celebrate failures too. “X didn’t work, but we sure learned a lot!”

And that’s all for now

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