How to manage a remote team
It is 2:00pm at our office in Sydney and our meeting with the Asia Pacific team is scheduled at 2:30pm. Michelle and Pete from the Sydney team will join the video conference call from home as their commute from Central Coast is a long one. Several members
This is one of the many video conference calls we do in our office every day. At Logitech Australia, we have been practising flexible working arrangements for 10 years because we understand the rhythm of an expanding team spanning across multiple time zones is no regular 9-5 melody. With half of the team based in New Zealand and the Australian team splitting across the office and remote locations as well as our day-to-day communication with the global team, we have learnt through trial and error in the past decade on how to build an efficient and trusted team, office-bound or not.
SCHEDULE FIXED DATES FOR THE TEAM TO CONNECT
Having a dispersed team can be tricky, especially when some of the team only come into the office twice a week. I always make sure there is at least one day when everyone is in the office (usually a Tuesday). These regular meetings give the team opportunities to share their progress and get to understand each other better both personally and professionally. We also have an office chat group on Whatsapp to help everyone stay in touch during the week.
Whilst we can’t be with the New Zealand team every week, we have daily video conference calls with them and schedule quarterly in-person meetings to nurture relationships and foster trust.
SHARE THE BURDEN OF DIFFERENT TIME ZONEs
With teams spread across the world, sometimes you have a very short window for meetings. It is very easy to favour the team where you are based, and make your colleagues from a different part of the world stay up late or come into the office early. This can create negative feelings and resentment between different teams. Try to rotate your meeting schedule so no particular team always wakes up early or stays behind for meetings.
EQUIP YOUR STAFF WITH THE RIGHT TOOLS
In a perfect world, all tools available to your team are reliable and your Internet will never drop out. But in reality, no single technology platform can do everything we need. Our team stays connected on Whatsapp, phone, Zoom and emails. We also have Google Drive and DropBox to share information internally and with our agencies.
For best results, we make sure our team has access to robust cloud services reachable from anywhere and the right video conferencing technology - each frequent remote user has a compact 4K webcam, and every conference room in our office is equipped with a user-friendly conference camera.
It takes time and effort to adapt to different tools and technology but once you have the system in place, your team will be more efficient than ever.
BE AVAILABLE AND UNDERSTANDING
It is very important to acknowledge the value your colleagues bring to the table by making yourself available and be understanding, albeit their locations. Take our Australian team as an example, everyone in the office works remotely at least once a week and 80 percent of our sales team is constantly on the move. To ensure a smooth communication, we talk to our remote team at least three times a day via Whatsapp, phone, or Zoom. These regular catch ups give us a good understanding of their day-to-day duties, mood, and even personal life - just like any office-bound worker, your remote team needs to know they are connected to you and the rest of team on a social level.
And as much as we love emails, sometimes important correspondences may get lost in the sea of unread incoming emails. In my experience, it is not the best practice to demand immediate responses. Pick up the phone or send your colleague a Whatsapp message. After all, you can’t expect everyone to be at their desk 9-5. Damian Lepore is Managing Director of Logitech ANZ