Tips on how to make the best of the transition to a remote team

Originally published on the N49P website, reproduced here

Over the past week the founders of our portfolio companies have shared tips on how to make the most of the sudden need to have their team's work from home

Over the past several years a growing number of startups have been building remote teams and several prominent founders and VCs have been loud advocates for this movement.

The reality is that the vast majority of startups still have their team located at one site. This changed over the last several weeks where most teams have been forced to move to remote teams. This change has required a rapid change in working styles and team culture.

We asked many teams for tips on what has worked for their teams the following is an unedited version of what we received.

If you would like to either edit this post to more digestible and useful or if you would like me to add tips that you have please email me at alex@n49p.com

ODAIA

For smaller teams have a persistent video channel (e.g. Zoom, Google Meet) that is on and everyone has it on when they are not on another meeting. This is helping the team collaborate like they would in the office. (If you are not speaking you keep your mic on mute).

MayDay

We’ve been focused on increasing transparency and communication. To do that, we’ve we’ve been using an app called Jamm to do async video updates each morning for what we’re planning on doing during the day, and then another in the afternoon to recap what we accomplished and if there are any blockers we need help with.

Monday mornings, we have a video call to discuss the plans for the week, discuss what happened over the weekend, and just to hang out for a bit. We do that again on Wednesday morning (mainly so we have a scheduled time to meet as a team together). And on Friday afternoons, we have another call to discuss how the week went, how we can help each other, etc. We’re using Jamm for these.

From a time-management standpoint, we’ve focused on time-blocking to create a routine (essentially what our “programs” feature will ultimately do). So making a point of having time blocked for breaks and exercise (even if it’s just a walk). Goal is to create as much of a routine as possible.

We made a point of putting all of our tasks in Notion, and are diligent about keeping their status up-to-date. I also setup a Slack integration for that so everyone is aware of the progress the team is making (with the intention of increasing transparency)

Crescendo

  • Keep recurring meetings short and laser-focused

  • Host a regular watercooler session where team members can hang out on video chat while they work, this is great for team bonding

  • Don't skip the 1:1s, they're even more important when you're remote. Bonus: use a tool like Donut to set up sporadic 1:1s across the team, not just with managers/reports.

  • Encourage people to keep their videos on, but don't force it. Not everyone has a video-friendly WFH space, and it's more inclusive to be understanding of that.

  • Establish a hand-raising system for large meetings so you can ensure that everyone's voice is heard, not just those with the confidence to interrupt. Always make it clear who is leading the meeting, and ensure that that person is on point to include the people who raise their hands/make comments in the chat.

  • We created a full guide for teams to be inclusive with their remote work, as well as education streams specific to COVID-19. Here is the page.

Finaeo

Recommendations for individuals

  • Block-off NON-work hours (and stick to it)

  • Create a working environment outside of your living quarters

  • Have a routine (get dressed like you're going to work, make sure you get exercise, etc.)

  • Pick up the phone (call & facetime) your friends, family and team, don't let yourself be isolated

  • Stay hydrated!

Recommendations for teams

  • Daily standups

  • Virtual working rooms

  • Leaders to block-off time daily to "check-in" w/ team members (5-10 minute social calls)

  • Use public slack channel (we use #love) to give positive feedback

  • Encourage teams to proactively communicate more (especially cross-departmentally)

  • Create quick projects that are interdepartmental

  • Centralize and surface information daily, spot check your team to make sure they are putting things in the right places (eg. Gdrive, Confluence, Asana, Jira, etc.)

Recommendations for CEOs

  • Write more to your team

  • Call your top partners/customers

  • Review all growth models/projections

  • Block off daily time to think, plan, etc.

  • Take care of yourself first

Kitchenmate

Their WFH policy can be found here.

Wondeur

A short goal for the day posted on slack by each team member + an overall short team call early afternoon for 15mn/30mn to check if everyone is ok/safe and to strategize the rest of the day.

Call prospects/clients (not email) as they have time on hands and ready to talk if you are asking if they are ok and offer to help.

FightCamp

Daily scrum with video to start and finish the day where each sub-team members reports on their progress. Expectation is that you're supposed to hit what you said you would hit but of course things happen

Key Living

Lunch & Learns - we're hosting external leaders who are virtually teaching our team and we're also giving virtual Key L&L's to other tech companies & Key webinars

Culture - We've continued to lean into creating an intentional culture including making sure we hold each other accountable for getting active