I run Customer Product and Operations for the Rentals.com brand at RentPath. RentPath is based out of Atlanta, GA, and we’re currently working entirely remote with the option for employees to go into the office if they’re vaccinated.
Tell us about your team!
How big is it?
I have four individuals that report directly to me and a broader team of about 20.
Where are your teammates located?
Most of the team is located in the Atlanta area, but with being able to work remotely we have people everywhere.
What does your team do? What are you responsible for?
We focus on Rentals.com customer experience and how we can improve it. We cover everything from bringing people to the site through launching a listing and managing their property/tenant after that.
What are the components of a strong remote culture?
Communication is key. In the old days of working in an office, proximity guaranteed that communication was happening. Cohabitating in the same physical space makes it hard not to.
But when we’re remote, it’s easy to fall out of step with the team and organization. Especially as a leader, I try to be really intentional about checking in, since I can’t just fall back on reading social cues and body language.
Defining time throughout the week to ensure communication is happening is always a good idea. There’s the obvious times like standups and all-hands, but I’ve found it’s good to block off time for team ideation and even catch ups. It’s much harder to recreate the discussion that happens at the water cooler than the one that happens in the conference room, but it’s just as important.
Lastly, I’m a firm believer that GIFs make everything a little bit better.
Strong remote cultures are built on strong connections. Strong connections are built with Hailey.
How do you make sure your team is happy and engaged in their work?
I have weekly one on ones with my team that should always include a discussion around how content they are in their roles. Even if I’m not directly asking it, I’m looking for cues in the conversation that might point to a team member being unhappy. Feedback should be continuous and go both ways, and I try to remind my team of that.
We also try to do things to keep it light. Once a month in our all hands meeting we’ll play a game or do an interactive session where we learn more about one specific team member. It goes a long way in keeping folks engaged. We’ve also had team members (including myself!) who came on board in the middle of the pandemic and haven’t had the chance to meet everyone in person yet, so these are great ways to get to know others virtually.
Lastly, I’m truly a millennial when it comes to work habits, especially in a remote setting. It’s really easy as a leader to look to see if there’s a “green dot” next to someone’s name in Slack or Skype. But I focus on an individual’s output rather than checking to see if they’re online 8:30 - 5:30 nonstop.
The reality is that many folks have children, pets, contractors or whatever else going on at their home - and that’s fine. As long as they’re meeting their commitments to customers and coworkers, I’m not so worried about when they clock in and out.
It’s much harder to recreate the discussion that happens at the water cooler than the one that happens in the conference room, but it’s just as important.
What's your biggest challenge as a remote leader?
Working remotely makes it easy for relationships to be more transactional. Without being in a room with others, it becomes much easier to fixate on the work much more than the individual providing it.
That’s why building those personal relationships is so critical for me - so I can see who is feeling burnt out or who is having a harder time with things outside of the office. From there we can adjust to make sure we’re there for each other while continuing to provide the best experience for our customers.
My Remote Manager Toolbox
We play games and do a “get to know you” survey regularly. We just completed a volunteer in-person event for those comfortable enough with the idea. We also have in-person ideation sessions every few months.