Without the conventional trappings of what work is (an office, a commute, etc.), remote teams are questioning and reimagining the future of work.

Here's how the best remote teams get stuff done.

How A Team of 3 Needed I Done This to Stay In Sync and Prioritize Work

The Brief

Productivity is everything at startups. And, with all the chaos that happens at startups (growth, hiring, legal – you name it), it’s easy to lose sight on tracking your productivity.

That’s where Markitors found themselves last year.

Markitors Team

Markitors is a growing digital marketing agency in Scottsdale, Arizona with 3 full time employees and 15 small business clients. If you Google “digital marketing company”, Markitors usually appears on the first page of the search engine results. As a result, you’ll find a lot of the chaos at Markitors that you’d find in a typical startup. Onboarding new employees. Finding new office space. Delivering results for clients. Making sure deliverables are met. And, ensuring that the company is operating at max productivity to bring on employee #4.

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Lessons From A Year In A Remote Team Culture

Every remote worker I’ve seen stumble and fail over the last year has had one thing in common. They weren’t involved in the team culture.

I don’t just mean water cooler talk – culture includes almost everything aside from your actual output. The system you work by, the amount of meetings you have, the very structure of your teams is governed by your culture.

So when an employee doesn’t engage in culture it causes three things:

  • A feeling of isolation
  • A communication barrier
  • A lack of motivation
  • Lower productivity

However, when culture is done right, it powers motivation, encourages communication, and forms a solid, centralized base for your entire workforce to draw from.

Remote team culture

Over the last year of remote work the practices I’ve seen benefit our team the most have been:

  • Assigning mentors
  • Hosting competitions
  • Posing problems instead of solutions
  • Centralizing information
  • Documenting processes
  • Giving structured freedom

Let’s dive right in!

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How MindMate Stays Mindful of Remote Team Success

It takes a truly noble cause to inspire three graduate students to put dissertations on hold so they can start a company. For the founders of MindMate, that cause was helping people who suffer from dementia.

The University of Glasgow’s Patrick Renner, Rogelio Arellano, and Susanne Mitschke created an app that empowers those with dementia to live as independently as possible. MindMate comes with cognitive stimulation games, reminder tools, and a “Getting to know me” section where people can save personal information.

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How to Manage the Distinct Personalities of your Remote Team

So you think it’s time for your company to take the plunge and go remote. While you and your team begin to hammer out the details, new concerns bubble up—what if your staff burn out or fall through the cracks? Managing a team with such diverse personalities is tricky enough when you’re under one roof—you can only imagine how it’s going to be once everyone disperses.

Of course, some personalities are better suited for remote work than others. Some members of your remote team will punch the air and run home when you announce that you’re going remote. Others might glance hopelessly around at their office friends, at their favorite desk, at the cozy couch, and not know how to deal.

You can’t 100% predict who will love working remotely and who’ll flounder, but if you’re prepared, you can meet each member of your team halfway to set them up for success.

Here’s a breakdown of the different characters you might have on your team, and how to help them through the transition so they’ll thrive in your (newly) remote business.

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What I Learned From Managing an International Remote Team

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Guest post by Nils Vinje of Glide Consulting. A version of this post appeared on the Glide blog.

Let me start with the good part: when I managed a team of customer success managers in San Francisco, we were really successful. We worked together seamlessly.

We met often to talk about long-term strategy and problems that were coming up, we chatted over lunch about how things were going, and when someone had a question, they came and knocked on my door.

So when I moved into managing a distributed team of CSMs, I applied the same communication strategy: always be available. It didn’t matter that my coworkers were in Tokyo and London instead of down the hall—I would be the same resource I was before.

Now for the bad part: it didn’t work. Simply put, “always be available” isn’t a system.

It took some time to hammer out, but I learned that remote teams need to be much more systematic, document everything, and communicate constantly. Our international team eventually ramped up to become one of the most productive teams I’ve ever worked with, time differences aside. Along the way, I learned that remote teams can actually be more efficient than co-located ones, as long as they adhere to these processes.

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5 Resolutions to Boost Your Team’s Productivity

Over time, teams develop bad habits that hurt productivity. They slowly stop adhering to processes. They let standards slide. They communicate less. What’s worse is that as these bad habits creep in slowly over time, you can forget that your team is even doing them. Productivity suffers and no one even notices.

The problem is only exacerbated for remote teams. It’s hard enough for any group of people to stick to a regimen of healthy team habits. But when individuals don’t see each other every day, and they’re not regularly checking in to make sure everyone is adhering to office-wide standards, the slow creep of bad habits is even more dangerous, and leads to poor productivity.

All too often, working remotely means working separately. That leaves you without regular times to check in, re-assess how the team is doing, and make the necessary changes to reach peak functionality.

Enter New Years. Here’s your chance to make adjustments and define the tone for the next 12 months. That’s why so many companies introduce a yearly theme when everyone comes back from the holidays.

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In 2016, resolve to take on these fundamental problems that plague teams at work—especially remote teams. They’re what Patrick Lencioni calls the 5 Dysfunctions of a Team, and they lay out the main reasons teams aren’t as productive as they could be, why so many aren’t aware of them, and what they can do to fix them. Here’s how.

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15 Beautiful Tools For Managing Time Zone Differences

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If you work on a remote team, there’s a good chance you’ve struggled with managing time zones.

With coworkers spread all over the world, it can be hard to keep track of what time it is where your colleagues are. Even if you’re not working remote, it’s easier than ever to end up doing business with someone in a different time zone.

As our world becomes more connected, our differences in time zones become even more important to manage and understand. Here at iDoneThis, we’re a small team and lucky enough to have all our U.S.-based workers in Eastern Standard Time. But our European colleagues are six hours ahead of us. It’s why asynchronous communication is so important. Because their work day is finishing up just as ours is getting started. That means there’s a short window of time for us to talk synchronously if we need to. And sometimes, you need to talk in person.

Here’s a look at some of our favorite tools for managing time zone differences.

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The 10 Things You Learn After One Month Of Remote Work

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At iDoneThis, we’ve got our team spread all across the world. Germany, Italy, New York, Wisconsin. The company has been remote from Day 1 and we wouldn’t have it any other way. Working from a home office or coworking space gives us the freedom to work how we want and — for the most part — when we want.

As of writing this, I’ve had four weeks on the remote team. Here are 10 things I’ve learned in the first month.

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9 Tips for Landing a Remote Job

9 tips for landing a remote job

This article on landing a remote job is a guest post from Tim Metz. Tim is the co-founder of Saent, a hardware and software device that blocks digital distractions and helps you be more productive. Saent is crowdfunding its initial production run on Indiegogo now. Before Saent, Tim worked in mobile gaming and electronic music, amongst other things. Tim lives and works from Beijing (China) and starts each day writing, usually about productivity on the Saent blog. You can follow him on Twitter & LinkedIn

 

When I lost my job at a mobile gaming company in August of last year, I soul-searched hard to figure out what I really wanted to do. I realized my ideal position would involve my passion and knowledge of productivity. I set my sights on landing a job Evernote, which is one of the few companies truly trying to build a great brand and community around productivity. To my amazement, they also had a vacancy at that time that I thought would perfectly suit me: Marketing Producer. I sent off a cover letter and CV.

And that was it. I never heard back from them.

Tim Metz

Tim Metz

At first I was puzzled, and a bit crushed. Then I started reviewing myself more critically. I’d done a lot of things wrong: I didn’t really highlight my passion for productivity, I didn’t talk about what I could do for Evernote, and I didn’t even showcase my relevant productivity experience. In retrospect, everything sounded a bit generic.

Fast forward 12 months and I’ve launched my own company to manufacture a productivity device and hired a globally distributed team operating under Teal organizational principles. Most recently, I’ve been going through the over 400 applications we received for our remote librarian position, and unfortunately, many applicants made a lot of the same mistakes I did. Though the Evernote job wasn’t a remote role, many of the concept translate — and at times are amplified by the nature of remote work.

So, based on my own failed attempt to land a job at Evernote and the experience hiring a remote team at Saent, here are nine tips about how to apply for a remote job.

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