Managing Remotely

140 companies answer 6 questions

Managing a remote or distributed team successfully requires good support, planning, and communication. Whether deciding if and how to get the team to meet in person or defining the line between vacation and flexible work, the management of a remote team has differences from managing traditional on-site teams. In our Managing Remotely section we ask top remote companies how they keep their teams running smoothly from thousands of miles away.

Do you have remote communication protocols for your remote workers?

Knack

We have an overlap policy where we expect everyone to be generally available for conversations and video chats. Remote does not by definition mean time…

Project Ricochet

We expect our team to be available and responsive during business hours, but we don’t have any strict guidelines around response times. If a team…

Crossover

There is no hard and fast rule, but as a general rule of thumb, the quicker the better. Because we are a startup company, things…

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Do you organize remote team retreats?

Fog Creek Software

Yes – see my blog where I wrote the definitive guide to planning an offsite. 

AirTreks

TIP 1: think about the most important thing you want to accomplish and let that lead your decisions about who attends, what you talk about,…

TaxJar

We meetup as an entire team at least twice per year. We call them JarFests. We work hard to plan them in a fun city…

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Do your remote team members meet in person?

SitePen

We are proponents of team projects so no one person is out there working on their own.  With onsite Customer engagements, we’re afforded great opportunities…

Hubstaff

We don’t host meetups, but the Hubstaff team members who live in the same areas often work together. For example, both Dave and Jared live…

Skillcrush

We don’t require it, but we do have hubs of team members in New York and Florida, and try to get together and cowork as…

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How do you measure the productivity of remote workers?

ThirdPath Institute

I think this is a very important question for all organizations – not just organizations with remote workers.  Too often a “flexible workplace” turns into…

Workfrom

It’s really up to the individual to assess their productivity. As a team, we focus on group goals and results. Periodically we revisit those goals,…

Codebusters, Inc.

For external staff, we conduct weekly and quarterly audits of their work. We have a 3-strike system for any instances where it is clear that…

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What elements are key to successful working relationships with remote teams?

Appen

Clearly defined feedback mechanisms, high levels of daily contact, use of communication tools such as Skype, Fuze, or GotoMeeting to create face to face exchanges.…

BELAY

Open and frequent communication: It is so important to over-communicate and follow up with team members afterwards to ensure the message was perceived as intended…

OpenSnow

Weekly calls are important, as is setting and communicating realistic and exciting goals.

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What is the hardest part about managing a remote workforce?

Ultimate Software

One of the hardest things is making sure you have a good set of managers overseeing the remote employees, and making sure they are fully…

Help Scout

There’s arguably more overhead placed on the shoulders of leaders in a remote company. The hardest thing is to acknowledge the overhead and be really…

American Express

We’ve had the most success with employees who came into the experience with a realistic understanding of the nature of the job and what it’s…

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How do you keep remote employees engaged and feeling part of the bigger picture?

Five Q

Our leaders are continual learners in what good leadership truly is. Ultimately, we keep ourselves moored in our mission, the continual development of a warm…

SoftwareMill

Each team that is working for a client takes responsibility for all the issues: financial stuff, agreements, customer relations, etc. Thanks to our policy, people…

Knobs.co

Our weekly staff meeting, done via Skype, keeps everyone on top of the company’s initiatives.

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What is your BYOD policy for remote workers?

DataStax

We provide equipment to our remote employees.

Collage.com

Not having a physical office doesn’t mean skimping on essential equipment. Our team can use whatever equipment they are most comfortable and productive using, and…

Formstack

We supply all of our employees with the tools they need to get their jobs done. All team members are provided a laptop and an…

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What is your time off policy for remote workers?

RunRepeat

You can take off whenever you like, but we pay you by the hour. You get one to five weeks of vacation depending on how…

The Cheat Sheet

We have a flexible time off policy which provides employees with a generous amount of vacation, allowing them to take off whichever holidays they want.

Remote Year

We utilize an unlimited time off policy. As a global company, we find this is the best policy to apply across all of our team…

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What were your biggest fears in managing remote workers?

Go Fish Digital

Our biggest fear was that if we weren’t sitting right next to employees, it would be hard to ensure they are executing at the level…

Origin Eight

Not many fears that I can think of. Really just accountability and showing up, but I don’t feel that’s any more of an issue than…

Tortuga

I’m a first-time people manager and first-time CEO. My fears were (and still are) around leading a team of people. Being remote was never part…

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