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?

Groove

We have daily standups in Slack and standards for answering customer support tickets, but other than that, we haven’t had to set any other rules…

AnswerFirst

When working, our remote workers must always be in chat and respond as soon as they are able to (not interrupt their engaged call). We…

Batchbook

We don’t have a specific policy for how soon or how often things need to be communicated. I’d say the Golden Rule applies here and…

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Do you organize remote team retreats?

Vork Inc

No we have not organized retreats and it is likely that we would not do so for at least another year. This partly is explained…

OnTheGo Systems

I’d say that it’s important to organize the retreats with time in advance to make sure the team works smartly together (discuss ideas and works…

Seeq

In the earlier days when the team was ~15 people, we would gather the whole company together for week-long (Mon-Fri) retreats in different locations 4…

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Do your remote team members meet in person?

Collage.com

We meet in person every three or four months, except for during our busy holiday shopping season.

Sticker Mule

Yes, we try to meet once or twice per year. Usually we do it in smaller groups as it’s hard to get everyone together since…

Fog Creek Software

We meet in person once a year at our all company offsite. Last year we went to a resort in Austin and this year we’re…

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How do you measure the productivity of remote workers?

Universal Mind, Inc.

We use an agile development methodology that incorporates daily progress checks for the team. Also, if a developer’s velocity falls below a certain threshold, we…

CloudPeeps

We look at a lot of different metrics – from crude things like time (it’s remarkably easy to see if someone is “showing up” and…

Toggl

At Toggl, we have a result oriented culture and everyone’s productivity is measured by their results. We have small teams working together: back end team,…

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

Knobs.co

Clear tasks, responsibilities, and deliverables.

OpenSnow

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

ezhome

Trust and transparency. In order for our team to work together effectively across locations and time zones there must be a very high level of…

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What is the hardest part about managing a remote workforce?

NodeSource

Making sure people are consistently aligned with the mission.  People can start to lose track as they get heads down on the day to day…

Trade Conductor

I do not find it difficult. But you have to pay more attention to how you communicate. People don’t often see your face and therefore…

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…

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

SimpleTexting

Informal water-cooler style conversations about company goals and vision. People want to work for a company where they like the product, trust the management, and…

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…

Appirio

In addition to promoting local outings and events, our CEO leads biweekly company-wide meetings with the team virtually. During these calls he and other executive…

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What is your BYOD policy for remote workers?

Taksa Technology Solutions

As a company we have internal policies that helps us to have key security measures that protects us from any liability concerns that possibly could…

Beutler Ink

All our team members are welcome to use their own laptops and phones. There are some cases where we provide additional equipment that belongs to…

Fire Engine RED

Our company provides computer hardware and software to all our team members.

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What is your time off policy for remote workers?

Buffer

We have a minimum vacation policy at Buffer where we ask employees to take at least 15 days off every year, in addition to whichever…

ThirdPath Institute

Employees start with two weeks of paid vacation.  We also accommodate employees with school age children by letting them take extra unpaid time off over…

XWP

XWP offers paid leave options and flexible time off.

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What were your biggest fears in managing remote workers?

Formstack

My biggest fear is that one day I’ll wake up and simply be too frustrated that I don’t get to physically hang out with other…

Hanno

When we started out, especially when we had to grow and hire new people, my biggest fear was that they’d not work hard and would…

AirTreks

I used to worry about things not getting done or people not feeling responsible. But so far, our people care and everything gets done.

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