Learnings from moving a team remote

10 July 2020

The last few months have been a little bit peculiar for everyone globally. I've had the pleasure of working with and leading a great inter-disciplinary product team whilst this has been happening, here's some things I think the whole team discovered during this time.

1. Asynchronous communication when possible

We do our morning standups with a slack thread. This means that everyone can chime in when the log on, they want to go for a run, they want to start super early, they had a late night binging a series? All fine, we start when we want, we still go through our daily plan, and no one gets interupted in the middle of building something.

This also means not expected a reply for a team-mate instantly or thinking that because you've shared it it's been thought about properly, there's still plenty of reason to do some things over a video/voice call. And it's certainly something we're still working on as a team to improve cross teams and expectations differ.

2. It's okay to not be okay

My whole team has been open and honest with each other throughout the last few months. This probably really started longer than that ago though, we built trust within the team. If someone's having a rough day or week, they'll speak up and we'll reassess their backlog and plan for the week. Some have scaled back their hours per week for a season, others have taken a couple more vacation days or sick days here and there.

3. Working from home can be great

As the lockdown has been easing, it turns out it's okay to be very okay! Some of us are feeling apprehensive about a sudden return to the office. We've learnt a lot, we're changed our way of communicating and working. Being able to run to the store or pop out to see a friend ofor a coffee during the day are strong advantages of working from home, and the quaility of life in some ways has improved. Focus is getting easier and simpler, and there are fewer things trying to grab our attention.

4. We're still learning

I know there are short-comings in our team still. There are many more ways we can still improve, many things I'm still learning from chatting to people who have been leading fully-remote teams for a lot longer. Each and every time I open and read the fantastic GitLab remote handbook I learn at least one thing new. And it's okay to still be in that stage, it's alright for your team to still be making mistakes, not always seeing eye to eye, learning and moving forwards.