The problem with remote teams

This February I packed my bags, said goodbye to Sweden and moved to Buenos Aires, Argentina. 12’000 kilometers removed from friends and family, in a foreign country where I didn’t speak the language and didn’t know a single soul. I found myself finally living a long overdue dream of mine.

Today, eight months later, I still enjoy life on the road and can’t see myself doing anything else for the forseeable future. Being able to just unfold my laptop at a random café and get to work is a true privilege. But as the sun has its spots, so does remote work have some drawbacks.

You need to communicate a lot if you want to survive as a remote team and you have to do it well if you want to thrive. The teams I’m part of use daily group chat with Slack, longer one-on-ones over emails, code talk at GitHub and occasional face time via Skype. But it’s not enough.

They’re all great tools but there’s something lost inbetween them. We’re missing a certain type of exchange that comes naturally when working face-to-face and without which it’s very hard to build true team spirit.

The problem with our current toolbox is that it relies entirely on someone initiating the communication. You need an answer to a question, you find a funny picture of a cat or the servers are burning. All good causes but there’s something special in the question; “how was your week?”. This is what welds teams together.

I care a lot about this lifestyle and I genuinely feel that it’s the best way to operate for a lot of us. That’s why I will roll up my sleeves and do my best to solve this problem. I have a plan for a solution and am already working with a handful of teams to help them work better together, remotely.

Are you part of a team with at least one remote worker? Are you struggling with this problem as well and want to join in fixing it? Ping me at tobias@teametry.com and let’s make remote teamwork even better!

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