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Your 3 Minute Crash Course on Managing a Remote Team

How to create a productive and passionate team, regardless of where they work.

I’ve been a digital nomad for over three years now. Over the past year, it’s been fascinating to watch organizations across the globe react to suddenly and unexpectedly being thrown into the world of remote work. Some have adapted quickly and are thriving, while others are still struggling to figure it out. 

I started building and managing a completely virtual team long before COVID19 made working remotely something many of us now do. For the past three years I have scaled and managed teams entirely remotely. Of course when I set out to build Vintory, I anticipated some challenges unique to remote work, but a year and a half later, the growth of Vintory has proven to me that it’s absolutely possible and fun to scale your business entirely remotely. In fact, while some companies struggle to make remote operations work, it may come as a surprise that many companies are successful as 100% virtual teams. Before the pandemic, approximately 50% of the US workforce was operating in some form of a telecommuting role, and over 80% of employees would like to work remotely at least part of the time. 

While COVID19 demands the working world to adapt, it’s clear that remote work is not just a trend, it’s here to stay. The pandemic accelerated certain trends that were inevitably going to happen, like a primarily remote workforce in the next ten years. It’s like we just leapfrogged straight to 2030 in just a few short months.  Over the years I’ve learned a few things about building and managing a remote team – and I’m throwing my tips together in a “crash course” to help others as they make the move to becoming a more digitally operated organization. Whether you have a business development manager working from home or your reservations and guest services team are spread out across the country, these tips and lessons learned will help you manage your team effectively.

When it comes to the talent pool, make the world your oyster!

One of my absolute favourite things about building a remote team is that I get to hire the best talent on the planet – really! I have recruited experts from Ireland to Doha and across every time zone in the US. If you focus on hiring driven team members and have trust in them, there is no need to micromanage. I encourage companies big and small to look at what responsibilities can be handled remotely and then open up the talent pool beyond one specific location. The creativity, expertise and innovation you can find when you look beyond your own borders (state or country!) is incredible. And remember, hiring someone across the globe doesn’t have to be for a full-time position – it could be a short term contract to bring in new ideas or outsourcing a one-time project. 

 

Use metrics to keep your finger on the pulse of your business

I lead my team by focusing on their outcomes, not their activity. We rely heavily on metrics and our key performance indicator (KPI) dashboards. When leading a team remotely, I absolutely recommend data driven decision making and to be 100% transparent with these numbers across your team. At Vintory we make all meeting notes, goals and metrics public for the entire team to see. We use our scorecards to kick-off most of our meetings and all team members are trained in creating “Rocks” – 90 day goals. 

 

Make meetings personal but keep them structured

When I started Vintory, I used the Entrepreneur Operating System (EOS) as my guide. One of the most important principles is ensuring everyone on your team is 100% on the same page with where you are going and how you plan to get there. A key meeting framework we use is the Level 10 meeting. It’s a meeting agenda designed to create a consistent rhythm for the company to hold meetings that would be rated a 10/10 meeting by your team members in terms of productivity and effectiveness. While productive and value-add meetings are vital, each of our level 10 meetings always starts with a personal check-in. This personal check-in not only builds our relationships with each other, but kicks our meetings off with energy and usually a laugh. In addition to our level 10 meetings we have an all hands on “brunch” every Friday and often do casual 1:1 check-ins over the phone.

 

Use the right tools and have a killer set-up

When you’re managing a remote team you need the best digital tools that will set you up for success. Here’s a few of my favourites:

  • Slack – our virtual office space – (also the best place to share hilarious gifs)
  • Zoom – reliable and clear for large group calls
  • Smartsheets – wicked for virtual dashboards, scorecards and crunching those metrics

 

I also LOVE, LOVE, LOVE my at home office set-up. I think this is a must for everyone as you will spend almost all your working hours here. Here are some of the key parts of my set-up:

  • 3 monitors
  • MacBook Pro
  • Yeti Nano Mic
  • Cannon EOS 250D SLR
  • My captain in command, my dog Daisy

There will be bumps in the virtual road and that’s okay!

Just like working in person, in the office, and managing any team, there will be challenges. On the personal side, sometimes it feels like work and home life can blend together, and without good boundaries you can find yourself working too much. Sometimes my clients and partners get a glimpse of my personal life and professional life blending together, like when my dog barks at the UPS guy at the most inopportune time! While it is important to have structure and boundaries, I also think it’s equally important to remember that we are all human, and whether it’s your child running in the background, a poor virtual connection, or much needed personal flexibility, that’s what comes with the territory, and that’s okay.

 

I love sharing advice and hearing tips from others on building remote teams. If you have a question or a tip to share with me, drop me a comment below, or connect with me directly at brooke@vintory.com.

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