In this special episode, we talk about what it takes to build successful distributed teams. With the spread of COVID 19, many businesses are being forced into remote work models, which may have a permanent effect on the modern workplace. Since this is nothing new to us at 15Five, we want to share how we do this with you.
In 2012, 15Five began as a distributed company. While this has its challenges, it also presents many opportunities to build a culture with strengths that wouldn’t exist otherwise. After over eight years, we are still globally distributed and have won just about every major culture award—no easy feat when you triple headcount to over 200 employees in one year.
Even though we’re physically separated, there are ways to intentionally create a sense of belonging to fill the gaps left by remote working. Having a weekly check-in and regular all-hands meetings by video conference, provide qualitative insight into how your people are feeling. And regular cultural rituals like gratitude meditations create a sense of cohesion that would be otherwise lacking.
We’ve found that creating ways for employees to connect in a non-business context builds important connections. It can even be as simple as having a “water-cooler” channel on Slack. Whatever it is you do, create a way for people to express their shared humanity.
Successful high-performing distributed teams need a large degree of trust. Making it clear that you trust your people to get the job done is a necessary element of giving them the autonomy to do the best work of their lives. This isn’t always an easy mindset to have, but we’ve found that it’s an indispensable part of the process. Furthermore, it imparts a sense of belonging that is an integral part of any successful team.
Any crisis is an opportunity to reflect and make needed changes. These range from the tactical to the strategic. There are practical actions you can take for increased connection and productivity during these uncertain times. For example, using tech tools like Slack or Zoom. Another great tactic is bringing emotionality into your communication, be it with gifs or emojis, rather than simple text. Most of all, strategically creating environments that meet human needs of psychological safety and connection, leads to a better experience and higher quality work.
Has your company recently made the transition to remote work? Tell us how it’s going in the comments on the episode page!
In this episode
- Tech Tools that help facilitate work and communication in distributed teams
- Cultural rituals and practices to foster a sense of belonging
- Management processes like weekly check-ins that provide visibility and opportunities to coach from afar
- Creating the necessary trust to allow your people to work remotely
- How leaders can use this moment to reinvent their management style
- Building a shared experience that transcends physical distance
“We’ve learned a lot of hard lessons. We want to help aid in reducing some of the challenges and stress in suddenly having to operate your company in a whole new way.” [1:33]
“This could be a weakness or this could be a strength. Let’s turn our weakness of not being in the same room into a strength.” [4:19]
“Our jobs as leaders is to create that space where people feel like they can bring their humanity…. We all fundamentally have this deep need to belong as human-beings.” [12:21]
“One of the human needs that is up in the air right now is the need for certainty, for clarity. We as leaders can provide that by communication.” [30:30]
“Asynchronous communication allows for deeper self-reflection and ultimately greater truth-telling.” [43:17]
Mastering the Rockefeller Habits by Verne Harnish
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