At Yuuguu we practise what we preach – everyone works from home and we don’t have an office. We have a lot of experience of what works and what doesn’t in distributed team-working. Here are the key insights from Anish Kapoor, our CEO:
Get the right people
This is not about their skills on the CV, its about their personality, how they work and what motivates them. We use psychometric testing to make sure people can work on their own, that they will enjoy it and they have the communication skills to work in that way. We also focus on recruiting people for whom working from home can make a big difference in their life; typically people who have spent a few years commuting and are sick of it.
A clear vision
You can’t be with people every day so this ensures we are all moving in the same direction.
Politics and sneaking behind people’s backs will kill remote team working. Stamping this out comes from the top – senior management need to make sure this doesn’t happen.
You need to show that you trust your people to deliver on tight deadlines or important projects remotely. That means not dragging people into an office as a deadline nears. If you get the right people and trust them, then they will rise to the occasion. Sometimes people will make mistakes – you need to allow them to do this, and just work through it. It has a huge impact on the level of trust people feel they have from the company.
Don’t try and track the hours people do. Let people have flexibility in their time – so an afternoon to see the kids school play, or a day off.
Make time to chat
Make an effort to speak to the people who report to you every day, or every other day at the very least. Don’t have a reason for the call – just call for a chat. You will end up discussing all sorts of things.
Beware of email debates
Discourage email threads where people argue with each other. You need to stop these in their tracks – this shows a lack of communication. Encourage people to pick up the phone and speak with each other. These ‘arguments’ then get resolved very quickly – as most are down to misunderstanding.
When you are all together – do something more social, don’t fill it full of meetings.
A considered approach
When we have conference calls we debate and discuss things. We normally leave final decisions for outside of the call. We found that if decided things in the call – then after people would have other ideas and thoughts, and it would be a nightmare to get back in touch with everyone.
Make it fun
Revel in the fact that you are working remotely. Our dev team have ‘virtual beers’ on a Friday for example. They all get on a conference call and just chat – with beers or coffee. It’s the online equivalent of going to the pub after work.