Managing remote teams: how we do it at Bixlabs
Managing remote teams is a tough endeavor. These are the main challenges of remote work and how you can overcome them.
Today remote work is more than just a trend. It has become a necessity for companies worldwide that need to keep their business operations going. In this context, managers and team leaders find themselves facing a huge challenge: managing remote teams.
Adapting to remote work is difficult, especially if the circumstances urge your company to implement it immediately, and you didn't have much time to prepare.
In this article, we go over the main challenges you'll go through when managing a remote team, and we show how we overcome them at Bixlabs.
The main challenges of managing a remote team
Work organization, task tracking, and project management
Remote working requires a different approach than the one used in an office. This is mainly because it's way harder for managers to view how each team member spends their time and energy.
Employees that are new to this way of working can have problems adapting to the lack of a regular cadence, structure, and connection with fellow teammates. Without clear goals or processes, teams will have a tough time adjusting to remote work.
At the same time, having an overwhelming amount of communication and project management tools can quickly cannibalize your team's productivity.
Spreading company culture and keeping high team spirit
Many remote workers miss the regular social interactions and human connection of being in a real office. Isolation can affect your team's well-being, and managing remote teams forces you to rethink how you build and sustain your company culture.
Working from home can make spreading your organization's vision and values somewhat tricky. That's why team leaders need to be fully aware of this issue and deal with it actively and in a healthy way.
Managing life/work balance
With remote work, sometimes the boundaries between life and work can get blurred. Without a clear distinction between office and home, you may find that some team members get into unhealthy habits and experience burnout, loneliness, and even depression.
This isn't good for anyone and can lead to serious detrimental health effects too. That's why companies need to have a clear strategy on how they set work hours and project deadlines and how they manage team dynamics.
Managing a remote team: how we do it
As you can see, implementing a remote work methodology is not easy. It involves a lot of organization and planning. You can't just take the same processes and workflows you've been using until now and translate them into this new working environment.
For the past five years at Bixlabs, remote work allowed us to bring together amazing talents from across Latin America and work on challenging projects for innovative startups worldwide. That's why we approach this way of working with extreme care and dedication.
Here are some of the things we do every day to manage our remote teams and make the whole process run smoothly.
Team coordination, project management, and communication
Tools we use for Project Management and task organization
To overcome the main hurdles and difficulties imposed by remote working, we use a combination of tools and practices meticulously picked.
We set periodic meetings to keep everyone in the loop regarding projects' status and take advantage of these spaces to encourage team members to express their opinions, ideas, and concerns.
For us, it's super important to ensure all resources and materials are available remotely. That means all our team members have access to files and documentation from any device at any moment.
Another thing we make sure is that our team attends meetings punctually. For this purpose, we use shared calendars and chat and video-call apps. They help us keep the work process and the internal comms neat and organized.
We believe that, as a team leader, you need to follow a productive schedule, build good habits, and create an efficient task follow-up process using the right tools.
"Being far apart from each other was never an impediment for us at Bixlabs. I've been working from Houston since day one, even though Bixlabs' HQ is in Montevideo. I've always seen this as an opportunity to contribute with experience on how stuff is done in the US. Currently, half of the Bixlabs' team works remotely. We have developers all across Latin America and Software Engineers in Spain, and the list continues," says Ana, Head of Sales at Bixlabs.
If you want to know more about the tools and resources we use every day for project management and team collaboration, we recently posted an article talking about that. Check it out here.
Managing life/work balance
Tools we use to manage workload and daily agenda:
- Google Calendar
- Google Drive
When it comes down to having a good life/work balance setting a transparent working schedule and sticking to it is crucial. At Bixlabs, we have flexible working hours, and we implement a custom system to maintain everything organized.
We establish a desirable working schedule, ranging from 10 am to 6 pm, and make sure every team member can spend at least 3/4 of their operating hours within that time frame.
We also try to ensure every team member has clear visibility of their project partners' agenda. That way, we can coordinate tasks and meet tight deadlines on time.
Camilo, one of our Node.js Developers, stresses the benefits of working remotely:
"Remote work allows me to make better use of my time and energy. Since I don't travel physically to an office, I can make full use of my agenda, meet with clients and other team members, and balance this with my life duties."
Keeping a high team spirit and spreading company culture
Tools we use to keep a high team spirit and spread company culture:
- Google Hangouts / Meet
Keeping fluent and constant communication is vital for maintaining a great team synergy and spreading company culture when working remotely.
Using team communication and collaboration tools can be really helpful to build a strong team spirit and share the organization's culture and values. For this purpose, At Bixlabs we use Slack and Meet.
Slack allows us to create channels for different projects and manage the number and type of participants in each one. It is also great for making company-wide announcements and organizing conversations by topics.
Meet, on the other hand, is great for making daily and weekly video calls with both our clients and team.
Overall, both tools are an excellent way to keep everyone in contact, encourage them to share their points of view, ideas, and feelings, and have casual talks like if we were in a real office environment.
"In remote work, it is crucial to encourage constant exchange between teams and build trust through open communication. Especially in tough times like these, it is essential for healthy human development that workers can feel accompanied, content, and have feedback spaces," says Valentina, HR Analyst and IT recruiter at Bixlabs.
Looking for a remote team for your project?
At Bixlabs, we specialize in Nearshore outsourcing, providing product development services primarily for startups worldwide. We see our clients as our partners. We strive to build lasting relationships where we can work hand-in-hand with our clients to create quality, successful products.
Our strongest commitment is to quality. That's why we work with the best talent in Latin America. Leveraging the advantages of remote work, we have put together a robust, high-skilled team, regardless of frontiers.
If you want to know more about how we work and what design and development processes we follow, check our services!