A brief note on extended warm-weather travels: In the summer months it feels like no one is sitting still – whether working from home on “Summer Fridays” to moving to another country for the season, the months June, July and August leaves many teams fragmented geographically. How can a team be successful when leaders, functions, and teams are split across continents – especially for a start-up where teams are small and culture is key?
Expectations. First and foremost, identifying and communicating team norms – e.g., time zones, online availability – is critical. Although it may be a tactical or even mildly awkward conversation, level-setting upfront can prevent future misunderstandings.
Collaboration. Perhaps the greatest advantage today is the usage of collaborative tools like Slack for chatting, Box or Dropbox for file sharing, FaceTime or Hangouts for video chat.
Transparency. Developers all use Github, but other functions need coordination as well; tools like Trello, Flow, or Basecamp can help keep team agendas transparent across offices and functions.
Predictability. Having regular, periodic forums for interaction – whether daily or weekly team stand-ups, or monthly all-hands meetings – helps keep the team coordinated.
Unofficial chatting. Having leadership or key areas of coordination meet in-person periodically still offers real-value for team-building. Oftentimes it’s not during those meetings but before or after – in hallways or at the airport – where you get to hear people’s informal, unfiltered input and guidance. In absence of that, Slack chatter and other tools above can help for spontaneous conversations.
Proactive updating. I often err on the side of overcommunicating when remote – sending weekly workplans on Mondays or summaries on Fridays to my team. Not only does it help with the transparency point above, but also is a good self-forcing mechanism for you to keep disciplined.
Integrity. The most important thing is probably trust. For a Founder it can be frightening to think about an employee or an entire team on the other side of the world responsible for part of their operations. But you have to have trust in the people taking care of it, and as an employee you need to act with integrity and honesty.