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

Business First - - FEATURE - By Damian Le­pore

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

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