Five essential points for managing remote teams


If you suddenly have to manage a virtual team – many of you – these practices will help you make the transition

Telecommuting is a hot topic before everyone suddenly works from home. According to our internal survey, 95% of atlassians surveyed are willing to change their way of working to work remotely.

However, most of us are still familiar with working from home and its characteristics. It’s not just flexitime, it’s not about working from home in your schedule, or providing accommodation for teammates living in rural states. Now, in particular, the entire team is working remotely. This means new practices (or modifications to conventional practices), new tools, and new ways of communicating. In order to make all this work smoothly, the team leader has to take more responsibility. Managers set the tone. This is true whether your team is sitting together in a room and huddled together, or in a zoom meeting it’s actually distributed and crowded together.

But cheer up. While managing virtual teams may be new to you (and many others), others have been around for a while. Here are some practices that can help these remote leaders and list practical ways to manage and support remote teams. These anecdotes and stories about what works and what doesn’t work will help you navigate these strange waters as the captain of a new long-range ship.

Five basic skills of managing virtual team

1. Excessive communication

A big problem in most leaders’ minds: the ability to lead teams remotely and personallymainWhat is the difference? Well, not justOnedifference. But, to be sure, the first thing you should focus on is communication and how communication changes when everyone works remotely.

In “normal work,” many decisions are made through corridor conversations or lunchtime. When this temporary information sharing doesn’t happen, you have to replace it in some way. First of all, we should do a good job of excessive communication. It’s too easy for someone on the team to be out of sync based on a new decision, the status of a task, or a recent update. It’s going to happen anyway, right? Imagine the cracks that fall when your entire team is working remotely. It’s not only that these casual contacts are reduced, but the familiar exchange of team information is completely destroyed.

Therefore, excessive communication. Practice it. Using slack messages, @ mentions and emails can keep everyone in touch, even if you think you’re repeating. Ask them if they know something, even if you’re sure they do. Remember, if it’s in a group interaction, it could be someone else in the zoom call who didn’t know and learned about the information because you asked or repeated the information. Repeat something to keep it clear and harmless, and solve some problems immediately.


By default, team communication is conducted through 1:1 messages as much as possible, and shared pages (such as trello panel or conflict page) are created to record the communication practices during this period so that the whole team can pay attention to and modify it.

2. Work transparently

Of course, there is another big question, especially for managers: how do you know your team is working? Are they productive?

“My initial reaction to 100% remote access was to log in through zoom every day and candidly schedule more meetings,” says Claire Drummond of the atlas PMM group. “I realized that my team was just as pressured to prove their work as they were to make sure they were not stressed! We continue to improve our etiquette and learning, but you can’t improve things without trust and honesty. Building trust in technology has nothing to do with people who are idle during working hours. It’s about setting clear expectations and communicating. “

In many ways, if you do hire the right people, you don’t have to worry about it. You should trust your team and believe that they are the adult professionals you hire. But it’s a fair question, and one way to help answer that question is to look at your tools. In atlassian, we use trello, confluence, JIRA, slack, zoom and many other tools. But whatever tools you use, it’s all about how you use them and how you’re doing and when, and sharing all the relevant information with your team and stakeholders.

If you are looking for ways to ensure that this basic information sharing happens, and are discussing projects and milestones, try the following:

  • Consider updating the slack state frequently. Develop specific and consistent habits for yourself and your team. “Deep work”, “1:00 p.m. lunch time” and “walk” are really good.
  • @Remind many people. If you don’t specifically target someone, don’t assume that others will see comments or updates. There is no harm in using someone’s name repeatedly to make sure they know it.
  • Use a shared Google Calendar and keep it up to date. A consistent calendar is great for understanding everyone’s work (whether it’s work or non work life).
  • Try standing meetings. These short team meetings can be very effective. You can change the time, frequency and name of the day. Some teams start their day with YTB – what they did yesterday, what they are doing today, and any obstacles. Solidarity is a consistent approach, especially when everyone is in a remote state.

In short, develop practices to help your team stay in touch and provide updates on what’s going on and where you can find information about what’s happening. You don’t have to worry about what people are doing, but it will make it easier for you and their minds, providing a way for everyone to share updates.

3. Establish the basic rules of telework for the team

It’s hard to know how to set expectations when things are new and different. Like before? What if the remote team is different?

The simple answer is: make sure everyone on the team is on the same page (the understanding is consistent). Discuss in groups and get your input. Working from home is a new thing for many people, especially in today’s uncertain circumstances. The family has children and other family members, new schedules and rhythms, countless pressures and concerns. All factors must be taken into account. After these frank conversations about the needs of your team and your needs and needs as a manager, consider the following tips:

  • Record everything on the page to help ensure everyone is on the same page. It means everything: methods, roles and responsibilities, action items, expectations, key decisions, etc.
  • Spend time with the team to discuss your communication channels and tools and how to use them, including expected response times.
  • Discuss how to be consistent on shared work and how to collaborate on that work. In other words, build your sharing habits.
  • Use different types of meetings – 1:1, group meetings, the whole team – to provide feedback and develop familiar habits.

What you’re doing is creating scripts. You are building rules about how the team works and what each member expects.

4. Check people’s personal situation

How is your team performing? Ask, then ask. It’s not just about projects, it’s about people’s behaviormode。 First, create a safe space for your team to share ideas and feelings. This is crucial in such an unprecedented and difficult period. As a manager, please try to find out everyone’sphysical truth。 Find and provide the necessary time and space for private conversations.

People in remote areas often suffer from overwork. The boundaries between work and life are blurred and adapt to different time zones, and it is often difficult to “pull out” the plug. All of this will harm people’s well-being. Not to mention the loneliness associated with telecommuting, it is more difficult to “see” job burnout or identify loneliness with remote team members.

You must always check and really prove your commitment to the team. If they need some extra time before the deadline, be flexible. If team members don’t seem to show up in recent days, check it out. Here are some ideas for open-ended questions that help create a secure space:

  • What do you feel?
  • What is your workload?
  • How tired are you?
  • What is the most important?
  • What’s your world like?
  • How is your job?

5. Establish interesting remote team etiquette

It’s just as important as ever to keep the team connected socially while being completely remote. But how do you do it remotely?

To keep the team together, the creative director of atlassian, Leah pincsak, has found a gem: “package your weeks of social events as options, and don’t be offended if no one shows up. “

No matter what the situation is, social connections between teams are crucial. Remote teams can benefit greatly from team social etiquette, but they need to be cultivated consciously. In other words, don’t force virtual happy times, just like a regular meeting like drinking. As Leah understood, for social activities to function properly and feel right, they must be optional. Without this sense of obligation, they maintain the necessary randomness and voluntariness for non forced contact.

Other social concepts to consider:

  • Set up social slack channels to stay in touch on a variety of topics. Often called a “virtual water cooler,” it creates a place to chat or share a specific topic.
  • Set up virtual coffee, lunch or happy hour. It’s a long time to be together.
  • Try to start each team meeting like an icebreaker with a quick personal registration.
  • Play virtual games together, which can be a great combination experience. Again, make sure that these activities are always voluntary and maintain that feeling. Given the current situation, requiring parents to spend “playtime” after a long day rather than with their children is a big demand.
  • Check out some virtual team building activities to explore more ideas.

Like anything else, it takes some habits. However, you have established virtual team management practices and habits that you can mimic. Yes, it’s not the same as working together in a more “traditional” environment. In some cases, it’s even better to work together than you used to.

Author: Nikki Bellington
Translator: Bob Jiang
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This article starts from Bob Jiang’s blog. Please contact Bob Jiang for reprint