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.