In this ProductTank London talk, Rian van de Merwe, head of product at Wildbit explains how the challenges of working in remote teams can present opportunities and provide principles for how to work better together. His key points include:
- Challenges of remote work
- Principles to work better
Watch the video to see his talk in full, or read on for an overview of his key points.
Challenges of remote work
Rian explains how the thirty-person bootstrapped organization that is Wildbit had always been a remote company, with only a small local office. Even though they had always been remote, when the entire world shifted to remote work they still had their challenges.
For many companies engaging in remote work there can be a lack of serendipity and decisions have to happen in real time, yet oftentimes no one considers the opportunities that arise. He suggests that product managers should downplay the challenges they face and instead focus on the opportunities.
Remote work makes it easier to develop a rhythm of collaboration and focused time for a team because it’s easier to shut down distractions as a remote worker. The deep work part of that cycle can dramatically increase both the speed and quality of work that gets done.
Rian provided five principles to follow. Doing these at Wildbit improved how his team works whilst remote.
Don’t try to recreate the office experience
Optimize for asynchronous communication (and fully embrace it as the primary way of working- not an inferior substitute).
Default to trust
When people have the freedom to work when they are feeling their best, they do their best work, and they enjoy the work more.
Love your tools
If everyone hates the tools, the work will find a way to not get done. You’ll end up blaming ‘remote culture’ and hire an onside product manager when the problem lies with crappy tools
Embrace bottom-up planning
As a product manager, your job is way more an air traffic controller than it is a decider. Individual teams are the ones that decide how to solve a problem. However, within a team someone needs to be held accountable and that person is the product manager.
In-person time is still important
In-person time is extremely important for remote teams. But you don’t need it every day, and the reason you need it is not to get more work done.
The key takeaways from this talk are that remote work can provide you with several opportunities compared to working in an office but you need to focus on those opportunities rather than the challenges.
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