Vertican’s Best Practices When Managing a Remote Team
Now more than ever, having a remote work policy in place is not only a mutual benefit but an absolute necessity. Yes, it’s certainly a sign of the times. The recent pandemic has forced everyone’s hand even more to swiftly implement the needed measures for remote team management and adjust to the majority, if not all, of employees to work from home.
Thankfully, Vertican has had a remote workday policy in effect for several years, and we’ve learned a lot about what makes a remote team successful along the way. Here are some useful tips, a.k.a. VT’s best practices, for managing a thriving remote team.
1. Daily Standup – Once-a-day meetings, at the very least, are crucial for team synergy as well as accountability. We suggest video conferencing (we use Zoom) which helps keep things a little more informal and adds personality to your meetings! Aside from our daily huddle, we also hold regular meetings which maintain overall communications, eliminate unnecessary meetings, identify any obstacles, provide mutual support, and improve both individual and group project management.
2. Help Desk Support – Employing the obligatory IT guy or gal just isn’t enough. Ensure your IT team abides by a strict set of guidelines such as: response time, troubleshooting protocol, accessibility, and emergency plan and tiered support in place. Also, Vertican’s IT team members hold professional certifications in their field. Your remote support plan deserves the best.
3. Top Notch Tech – It’s critical to invest in your technology for a two main reasons. First, tech is ever-changing so if you don’t keep up with it, you’ll encounter more issues than you can handle. Second, the better equipped you are the more productive your remote team will be not having to deal with unnecessary and frustrating interruptions. At Vertican, everyone is provided a laptop to work from home. Our virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI) is scaled to support working remote on a moment’s notice and in the most secure capacity possible. Investing in technology will not go unnoticed by your remote team as this equates to how much you value their needs.
4. Communication is Key – Not only is maintaining an open line of communication critical, sometimes managers must use some hard-hitting questions to compensate for the lack of in-person synergy.
“As a leader to your remote team, it’s important to not be intimidated with using directness,” expresses Isaac Goldman, Vertican’s chief operating officer. “Being unable to enjoy the advantage of non-verbal cues, be transparent and up-front with your staff at all times, and expect the same in return. This will eliminate assumptions and misunderstandings.”
Whether it’s about a project, operations, or employee management, let your staff know that while you may ask some tough or seemingly obvious questions, it’s nothing personal. Here are some other quick tips that work well for us:
Utilize a workplace chat platform. We use Microsoft Teams which is a quick and easy method of communicating. It saves time and frustration in waiting for a call back or a returned email. Chats can be public (recommended for transparency) or set to rooms to easily collaborate on projects. By the way, chats can also break up some tension when you need a little levity added to your day.
5. Relationships – You know the saying, “you can’t drink water from a dry well”? Well the same holds true for any unnurtured relationship. The more you emotionally connect with your remotes, the stronger your foundation is as a team. So get to know each other a little more on a personal level, without infringing on comfort zones of course.
Here at Vertican, employee relationships are one of our top priorities. Some of the ways we stay connected with each other socially are:
Consistent Company-Wide Meetings – We hold a monthly meeting, “All Hands”, where remotes (depending on proximity to the office) either join us in-person or video conference. While a portion of our time together is to catch up on general business items, our COO takes much of the time to introduce new team members, spotlight jobs well done, share any personal milestones (like weddings, births, etc.), and announce team building initiatives, which coincidentally takes us to…
Team Building Initiatives – Vertican not only believes in supporting charities but takes it to the next level by involving our staff. Our team also participates in supporting worthy causes in-person as much as possible. So while we are providing a positive service, we are also connecting with our colleagues in person for the greater good – it’s a win-win!
Internal Social Network – vSocial is our internal social platform and latest initiative to help employees get to know each other more. We share, at our own level of comfort, information like favorite things to do, secret talents, our pets (and sure kids too), etc. Look out Facebook – vSocial has no ads and is a safe space for all of us to share our personal side.
Give Them Food They Will Come – Okay so we are not party animals, but we do enjoy opportunities to get together in person and maybe let our hair down a little. Managers, this doesn’t need to be a scary monetary commitment. Even meeting up for a happy hour (if logistics allow) is a great way to unite you with your remotes. Investing in our gatherings is investing in the Vertican synergy that makes us a successful team. Here at Vertican, we especially look forward to our annual weeklong, team building extravaganza called VT Week.
Modern work culture and more recently unavoidable events may make the decision to put in place a remote team whether you like it or not. But more than that, there really are a multitude of mutual benefits to managing a remote team – if it’s done efficiently and thoughtfully. So switch out the desktops for the portable alternative, invest in the necessary equipment to bring online video conference to your meetings, beef up IT support, open up communication and create opportunities for more in-person gathering.
Whether your team works from home due to circumstances beyond your control or as a value ad to retain excellent employees, implementing as many as the above remote essentials is a MUST for a balanced, happy, productive work culture … and ultimately a successful business.
Have additional suggestions? Leave them in the comments!