We started Solgaard as a fully remote team spread out across several countries and time zones. There were a ton of challenges at the start, but as we learned some tips and tricks, I wanted to share some of our findings to help you win as a remote team.
First of all, we are in full support of social distancing during this complicated coronatime. Here's a great article that features the science behind why it works.
The first step is to create your morning routine. I'd personally recommend eating, showering, having a cup of coffee, and putting on big kid clothes before getting into emails. Having that break for personal time and separating out 'work time' has been crucial for me.
1. FaceTime, Zoom, whatever - Turn your cameras on! Adding in this extra layer of social connection really goes a long way. I have one friend who used to leave his camera on for 8 hours a day to stay connected with his team that was in the office - it helped him feel like he was a part of their day more than just little segments.
2. Living with a partner? Set a clear signal or communicate in some way when you need to focus. Constant distractions will frustrate both of you, and lead to little work getting done. (For us extroverted types this can be super hard)
3. Fresh air! Open your windows, sit on your balcony, take a 20 min walk if you can!
4. Eyeballs - as you'll be working from just a laptop and all is taking place there, it's important to take a chance to look away from that smaller screen - especially important for people like designers/writers who spend more time looking at the screen than others. Also be cautious of glare from bright sunlight when looking at your monitor - too much could cause a strain and/or headaches.
5. Exercise - do 50 pushups with your friend on Facetime, find an accountability buddy. Keeping your blood flowing is important, and with limited walking around, you need to get at least a little cardio in each day.
6. Slack - Secret tip, if you're working with designers or anything visual, Slack has a tool in its video call/screen sharing function where you can draw outlines onto the other person's screen. This has made working remotely with Chris, our Art Director, 10x easier and way more fun. (I draw far too many smileys, Sorry Chris!)
Leading a team? Here are some of my extra add-ons.
1) Take time to listen. Put time in your calendar with your team, one-on-ones, group chats, to make sure you feel connected and take the time to hear people's uncertainties.
2) Handle conflicts by voice. Rather than sending 4 paragraphs berating someone, have a video call - and listen. Ask just your first question and see if you can understand things from their side. Problem between colleagues where there's a conversation breakdown? You may need to play middleman - remember, there's three sides to every story. His, Hers, and the Truth.
3) Communicate daily. I suggest twice a day. Get the whole team together (break into groups of 10 or so) and have 15 mins allotted to nothing. This free-flowing form of conversation which would be typical in an office setting is where a lot of great ideas happen and small problems can be addressed before they become big ugly ones. We're doing them every day at 10am and 5pm. If you want more info on how to make these quick check-ins work well, check out "The Daily Huddle" 5-15 minute format.
Most of all, during this time of so much uncertainty, KEEP CALM AND CARRY ON. Thanks, Churchill.
My very best,