I wanted to share some thoughts on managing remote teams. I have worked with several remote teams and have learned things that have worked and things that have failed. The most important thing for effective remote teams is communication. You need regular communication beyond exchanging emails or posts on project boards. To build a team ethos or spirit takes work. Teams without an ethos or spirit are not going to be very productive. Members will just do the minimum needed to get by and will not go out of their way to help each other. This can easily come about when the only regular communication is by email. People need verbal communication to connect. Without building a connection, people will not be receptive to criticism or correction. I have found the regular use of Hangouts to be effective in building connections. Seeing people’s expressions is an important part of communication. That should happen on a weekly basis at the least. Doing daily standups (short 15 minute status meetings) using Hangouts has proven effective. Daily standups will also help teams organize and make plans for achieving goals.
It is also important to have non-work related communication among team members. This will help build bonds among team members. It will help people see the other team members as more than just a resource. To build a true team, team members need to invest in each other. An effective team will be a team of friends.
Another thing that will help build team ethos is getting the team together periodically. One thing I heard of another team doing is each year the team would take a one week vacation together. They would spend some time working together each day (2-4 hours) to help knit the team together, but would also have fun together. Having that time together in non-work activity helps build the connections that will make a happy lasting team.