In a past life I spent the best part of a year, managing remote teams on web design & development projects across different geographies and time-zones. Here are some tips I learned along the way which you might find useful as we temporarily transition to remote working teams.
1. Centralise communications
As we become physically distant, simple communication tasks will become more difficult. Everyone needs access to the same information in order to do their jobs properly, so try to find a tool that will centralise all project work. We use Microsoft Teams but there are a host of articles online that detail the best technologies with this functionality.
2. Reference core project documentation
Key project timelines and deadlines are more essential than ever. Everyone in the team needs to be clear of the big picture. At the beginning of meetings briefly recap the latest project stage and any high-level considerations that the team needs to bear in mind.
3. Explicitly over-communicate in meetings
People don’t know what they don’t know, so ensure all communications are explicit. When communicating with others virtually, focus on clearly explaining yourself as well as your requirements or expectations.
4. But don’t over communicate
As bigger companies move online, more and more people will start using virtual technologies for meetings. Managers need to be careful their teams have enough time to do their jobs. Don’t clog up diaries with meetings for the sake of meetings.
5. Prepare in advance
To ensure you can balance the last two points effectively, we will all need to take extra time to prepare in advance for meetings. Arriving prepared will allow everyone to be more effective and leave more time for individuals to do their actual work.
6. Project check-ins
When holding a project check-in, aim to keep it short and efficient. Adopt a Kanban approach, and ask each team member: What did you do since we last spoke? What are you doing next? What blockers do you see on the horizon?
7. Social contracting
Building trust in each other is key as we move to new ways of working. One helpful tool is social contracting. Make clear requests of each other and your teams and hold each other accountable to those deliverables. Missing deadlines can be unavoidable but let people know in advance if that’s going to be the case.
8. Prioritise your tasks
Spend some time writing your ‘To Do’ list either last thing of the day, or first thing in the morning. I prefer last thing in the day because mentally it helps clear your mind of those nagging worries and jobs you’ve place on-hold for the past week. I find this super useful whether you’re WFH or not.
Written by Daniel Webb, Account Director