Tips for Building a Successful Distributed Teams

June 7, 2017

Jason Tiemeier

With the rising prevalence of remote working, distributed teams are becoming more the norm than they ever have been in the past. For employers, it offers the opportunity to work with the most talented people they can find, no matter where they are located. For employees, it opens up a world of opportunity that is unrestricted by geography.

Like every good thing, there are always drawbacks. Accountability is a factor, as is making sure the entire team is connected, and knows who is responsible for what. In a distributed team, it is more important than ever to have a team that is united toward the same goal, but with the right leadership and transparency in communication, managing your distributed team should be a snap.

1. Communicate regularly

Make a point of holding a regular team meeting, just to make sure everybodys on the same page. This gives everybody an idea of what the rest of the team is doing, and what hurdles, if any, need to be overcome. There are several communication tools for teams to help stay connected: try Slack, or HipChat for messaging, or dive right into Skype for Business (which comes standard in Office 365 or Microsoft Exchange), or Google Hangouts to give everybody some face time. Those in leadership roles should always leave their virtual door open so that if questions or roadblocks come up, there is always a recourse.

2. Establish clear roles and responsibilities

Its inevitable that your distributed team members may have different opinions about the way certain things should to be done. In this light, its important to establish a clear definition of what everybody is doing to avoid any potential clashes and minimize conflict. Assign tasks according to expertise, so that graphic artists are working on design, and copywriters are working on writing copy, developers are writing code, and so on. This serves several purposes, in that you are building on your teams strengths, and you are building trust within the team as a whole: trust that the right people are doing the right jobs, and that if there are any problems or overlaps, they all know who to turn to.

3. Put a priority on local leadership

If a remote team lacks leadership, there is far more likelihood for attention to drift away. Having a locally-based leader on site goes a long way to building a strong local team. It also helps keep people on-task, and gives your remote workers a better understanding of the company culture in general. With strong local leadership in place, you will be building a localized culture that, in and of itself, will become a strong asset to your bottom line. It also gives the parent company a good connect point into understanding the specific culture and challenges of the area, giving them better insight into who their remote team members really are.

4. Use the right technology

Your technology should serve you well, but it should also serve your distributed workforce. Dropbox, Google Suite, Office 365 and One Drive are all great for file sharing and version control. Video conferencing should also be one of your standards, and ideally there should be one person on the distributed team who is responsible for initiating meetings, and making sure everybody is accounted for. Be mindful of time zones to make sure tasks and meetings are delivered and arrived at in a time that makes sense to everybody, and make sure everybody has a way of connecting when they need to.

5. Hire the right people

While this might be easier said than done, your first couple of hires are probably the most important. They should be able to work autonomously, and ideally, will have done some remote work before. They should be highly accountable, motivated self-starters who are responsive to communication. They should also be as open and honest as possible, as the standard they set will establish the basis for your distributed office culture.

Lakeside Executive Suites is home to Distributed Teams

Lakeside Executive Suites in Weston, FL, is a full-service flexible workplace dedicated to supporting distributed teams. Our flexible private offices, virtual offices and co-working spaces are fully equipped with modern amenities, lightning-fast internet, and everything your team needs to stay productive. Call today, or come by for a tour, and find out how easy it is to get started.

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