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5 Tips for Managing a Remote Team

Posted by Eric Goodenough on August 01, 2013

We’ve been working in and out of the country for about 5 years now. We’ve worked with teams in the US and teams across the world. We started with a coder in Spain, then with developers in New York, Northern California and over the last year we’ve worked with teams in Oregon, Kansas, California, Taiwan and New Zealand. Needless to say we have yet to meet all the great people that have helped fourfour become a success over the years, but we have come to appreciate and understand the “ins and outs” of remote workers. We’re not talking about outsourcing here…just freelancers in different locations.

Here are our top 5 tips for managing a remote team

1. Communication: This is very important. First you need a good tool to manage communications, deadlines, timelines and project tickets. I use Basecamp and Codebase. Since I am the project manager it’s my job to know where everyone is on our deadlines at all times. I have some kind of chat open on my computer at all times so if anyone has a question or needs to get a hold of me at any time I am available, this way we don’t hold up the process waiting for emails to get returned.

2. Transparency: For my team and for my clients. My clients can log in at any time to see where we are on deliverables and I am always clear with my team about what is due and when. I check in with them several times in a day to see where they are,on a project, and if there is anything I can do to help.

3. Get to know your remote team: I take an interest in them besides the projects we work on. I know about their lives, their families, what hobbies they have etc. Last year one of my developers met up with us in Lake Tahoe and we hit the slopes together for a few days. This is the best way to build a reliable team and build trust between all members and myself. I also make sure that I deliver what I promise. If I tell someone that if they push really hard this week and deliver ahead of schedule that I’ll give them a bonus, I better make sure that I come through on that bonus when the time comes. I feel like getting to know your team is essential to building successful projects and have a team you can rely on in the future.

4. Fulfill your promises: This is a big one.  If you promise to pay a freelancer on a certain date, you had better live up to your end of the deal.  If my team has come through for me on time, it is my responsibility to make sure that they are compensated on time.  This helps build trust on their end since they know that I am going to live up to my end of the arrangement.

5. Bonus when possible: I try to always give my team extra incentives to get the project moving faster so that we can not only meet but exceed our deadlines.  Motivate however you can, I always find a little extra cash goes a long way.