Tips and tools for getting the most from remote teams

Now we are all more used to working remotely, people have seen both the benefits and pitfalls.  It’s clear we need to adapt how we work, not just keep doing what we always did but just online.  At Paraffin, we’ve been a remote team for 8 years.  Here’s what we’ve learned about how to manage remote teams well, and the tools that help.

    • Define your own team’s culture clearly – now more than ever we need to reset how we work.  We don’t just fall back on old habits or try to replicate how we have worked on previous projects, or replicate what you used to do in person in back to back video calls.  For each new team and project we decide together as a team what is and isn’t acceptable.  From not replying to all, to not being late to meetings, to doing 30 minute meetings with breaks in between to sending voicemails rather than emails, consider who is in the team how they work best, and reset for that team.
      Tools:  Calendar (set your default meetings to 15 or 30 mins) and email (disable reply to all to cut down on email traffic).


    • Transparency – we all agree to full disclosure about where we all are, what we are working on, how we feel, what’s happening at home – anything that can help us to understand each other better and set expectations.  We trust each other 100%, it’s the only way we can work well remotely.
      Tool:  Hours Tracker (an easy smartphone-based app that clocks you in and out of jobs, and exports to your other team members in seconds when they need to know how your time is spent).


    • Speedy answers – We set up ways for the team to be able to answer small questions quickly and discuss things fast to help us keep to deadlines and maximise time.  Tool:  WhatsApp (it is increasingly the tool of choice for all our client and global team members, especially to send each other voicemails instead of writing long emails).


    • Commitment and reliability – it’s important that we are all keeping up to what we’ve each committed without having to be reminded.  Tool:  Basecamp (Share your to-do lists, latest files and never ever send big files via email again.  Invite clients to the project too and choose what they see.  Give your team access to only the projects they are working on.  Use on your smartphone too.  When your laptop dies or is stolen, everything is on Basecamp, everything is available.  We use it for everything).


    • Face to Face – we have always met by video or in person whenever possible.  We always see each other rather than just phoning, which means being camera ready at all times!  Tool: Zoom is by far the simplest and easiest, and gallery view is the perfect way to make sure everyone is present.  Zoom and is now secure too.


Paraffin is a Capabilities agency who supercharge people and their abilities to work together for positive change.