In recent years, the concept of remote distributed work has gained significant popularity, and managing distributed remote teams has become a crucial skill for leaders and managers.
According to the 2023 Remote Workforce Report, businesses are embracing distributed teams. Employee retention has improved by 69% among this type of workforce, and productivity has increased by over 50%. It’s been found that 74% of employees believe that remote work will become the norm everywhere. It increases job satisfaction, reduces stress, and leads to higher engagement among employees.
According to a Stanford study, remote work boosts productivity by over 13% and allows for better focus and fewer distractions. Some employees are even willing to take a pay cut in exchange for remote work due to the benefits it offers, including cost and time savings.
Сhallenges noted by remote team leaders include managing internal processes (31% of decision-makers) and maintaining employee engagement (29%).
Apliteni has had a distributed remote team since its inception in 2017.
Let’s explore key techniques, practices, and strategies that we’ve developed and adopted for successfully managing a distributed remote team, ensuring sustainable productivity, engagement, and collaboration.
Effective communication is the cornerstone of our company. To ensure everyone is on the same page, we prioritize open and transparent discussions for work-related questions. By sharing information publicly, we promote collaboration and a shared understanding among team members. Transparency is the key value in our work.
We strive to minimize bureaucracy by empowering individuals to directly schedule meetings with anyone in the company including the CEO, eliminating the need to go through team leads or HR. This approach encourages direct communication and fosters a culture of autonomy.
In our communication channels, we maintain a focus on work-related matters and cultivate a respectful environment. We refrain from discussing sensitive topics like politics or religion, ensuring that everyone feels comfortable and included.
To foster collaboration and alignment, we hold fixed weekly calls, including both all-hands calls and team-specific meetings. These regular gatherings allow for updates, goal alignment, and the collective resolution of challenges.
Flexible working hours
In Apliteni, we embrace the concept of remote and distributed teams, with our talented workforce spanning across 10+ time zones.
While certain departments, such as Customer Support, adhere to set shifts, we offer our team members the freedom to choose their work hours.
Flexibility is key in our approach, with the only requirement being that they are available for a minimum of 6 hours each workday within the GMT+0 timezone. We firmly believe in the honesty and organizational skills of our employees, trusting them to manage their work efficiently and prioritize tasks effectively.
Even though we don’t use timesheets or tracking software, we encourage team members to greet each other at the start of their workday in a dedicated Slack channel. We ask the employees to fill out a quick form to wrap up the day: list what they’ve worked on and indicate if anything is blocking their progress. This information is available to all team members, so they all keep in sync.
Uninterrupted deep work
In Apliteni, we prioritize uninterrupted deep work to enhance productivity and focus.
One of the strategies we employ is the practice of the Pomodoro Method, which involves dedicated blocks of time for concentrated work followed by short breaks.
This technique allows our employees to delve into tasks without distractions and ensures maximum efficiency.
We understand the importance of maintaining a flow state during deep work, so we emphasize that individuals are not expected to reply to messages immediately. This approach empowers our team members to immerse themselves fully in their tasks, free from constant interruptions.
At the same time, we encourage collaboration and timely communication by setting an expectation that colleagues respond to messages within a reasonable timeframe, generally within 30 minutes during their workday.
Workload and performance assessment
When managing workload and assessing performance we prioritize the establishment of achievable sprint goals for the 40-hour workweek.
These goals are based on careful planning of the tasks that need to be completed within the quarter. By setting clear objectives, we can effectively track progress without the need for additional tracking software. If the goals are successfully reached, it indicates that the team is on track and performing well.
However, if the goals are not met, we take a proactive approach to understand the reasons behind any shortcomings. We analyze the factors that may have contributed to incomplete tasks, seeking to identify any obstacles or challenges that hindered progress.
Additionally, we emphasize open communication and encourage employees to reach out to their team leads to address any problems or challenges they may be facing. By regularly reviewing the data collected and analyzing the reasons for incomplete tasks, we gain insights into how much can realistically be accomplished within a quarter and can take necessary steps to optimize productivity and goal attainment.
Prioritizing work-life balance
Promoting a healthy work-life balance is a fundamental priority within Apliteni. We firmly believe in the adage that one cannot pour from an empty glass, and thus we actively encourage our employees to take the time off they need for self-care and rejuvenation.
By fostering a supportive and understanding work environment, we aim to minimize stress levels and create a culture of calmness.
We understand the importance of workload management and strive to assign a reasonable number of tasks to each individual, ensuring they can complete their work without overworking for prolonged periods. Our primary objective is to minimize the possibility of burnout and enable our team members to achieve a healthy equilibrium between their personal and professional lives, leading to enhanced well-being, productivity, and job satisfaction.
We have implemented a policy of unlimited fully covered days off. We trust and value our team members’ dedication and responsibility in managing their work and personal lives. We believe that as adults, there is no need for a doctor’s note or extensive explanations when requesting time off. If something arises and an employee needs some time away, they are encouraged to take it. All they need to do is inform their team lead to ensure that any tasks they were working on can be appropriately postponed without hindering the progress of others.
This approach allows our team members to prioritize their well-being and address personal commitments, supporting a healthy work-life balance that ultimately benefits both the individuals and the overall productivity of the team.
Focus on self-improvement
At Apliteni, we place a strong emphasis on self-improvement.
We understand the importance of holistic development, which is why we offer monthly compensation for sports or gym memberships. By encouraging physical fitness, we aim to support our employees’ overall well-being.
Additionally, we believe in the power of continuous learning and growth. To facilitate this, we provide compensation for education, enabling our team members to invest in courses, workshops, or certifications that enhance their professional skills and knowledge.
Moreover, we actively promote reading as a valuable source of personal and intellectual growth. Each full-time employee is provided with a Kindle and granted access to a wide range of books tailored to their interests and development needs. By promoting a culture of self-improvement, we empower our remote team members to expand their horizons and continuously evolve both personally and professionally.
The company Handbook
We prioritize clear communication and easy access to information through our company Handbook. The Handbook is available online with free access, allowing all employees to refer to it at any time. In fact, you can check it out right now on the Apliteni website.
It serves as a comprehensive guide, detailing all processes and practices within the organization. We continuously update the Handbook to ensure that everyone has a written resource they can rely on for guidance. Additionally, we have a company wiki that contains internal information and resources, which is accessible to all employees.
By providing easily accessible and up-to-date resources, we empower the members of our team to navigate their work effectively and make informed decisions.
Successfully managing a distributed remote team requires effective communication, trust, and strong team culture. By establishing clear expectations, leveraging technology, fostering autonomy and trust, aligning goals, supporting work-life balance, and promoting continuous learning, managers can create an environment that maximizes productivity, collaboration, and employee satisfaction.