A High Functioning Remote Team—Is That Even Possible?

Absolutely! Over the years, I’ve heard executives groan sarcastically about creating remote teams. In comments such as the above, they assume that a remote team is paramount to failure. “When the fat cat is away, the mice will play,” is the assumption. And nothing could be further from the truth. We must move beyond this belief, to one that empowers our employees with incentives and the freedom to execute objectives with excitement. Productivity—and retention—increases among companies with remote workers, according to a recent two-year study at Stanford University, that found remote workers to be “astonishingly productive.” In fact, in-house workers produced half a day’s work less, on the daily, then their home-based colleagues. This same Stanford University research of 500 employees found a 50% decrease in attrition among home-based workers as well. So it’s a win-win situation, right? Well, in my experience, remote teams thrive, when you do these two things:

Daily Scrum

Yes, that’s right, every day you should meet with your team for 15 minutes–not more, not less. This isn’t a boring status call where one person talks, and everyone gets their marching orders. Instead, this is a time when each individual share about what is on their work plate for the day. The questions that should be asked daily are:

1. What did I do yesterday?

2. What am I going to do today?

3. Do I have any roadblocks?

Asking these questions will set everyone’s intention for the day so they can better meet their objectives.

A couple of things make this meeting even more productive:

1. Schedule this meeting in the morning.

2. Use video conferencing so the team feels connected.

3. Make sure to laugh.

Virtual and Shared List

Create a shared list that everyone can use throughout the day and add notes to. I like to use Trello (it is free) or Microsoft OneNote. The type of tool you use depends on how you organize your workflow. When I use Trello, I have four columns:

1. To-Do — for activities that need to be completed.

2. Doing — for activities that an individual is completing or managing.

3. Verify — for completed activities that need a final review by the team, or needs final approval.

4. Done — for activities that are completed.

Trello and OneNote have great mobile apps too, so you can manage your projects on the go!

If you do these two things (and make sure to laugh during the day as well!) remote workers will get out of their inboxes, and on with their activities or projects—while being part of a supportive team.