Communication is everything. Respecting each other's personality types, communication styles and being comfortable enough to repeat and reiterate key items on calls. I would put Empathy as a very close second. For me, that’s the foundation stone of Product Management in any business, not just remote. Empathy for the user, but also empathy for your teammates.
I’m a Senior Product Manager with Whitespectre, a technology consultancy that helps companies develop high-impact products and platforms. At present, my time is concentrated on a shopping rewards App focused on better-for-you brands, but I have worked on a number of products (both internal and client) here.
Tell us about your team!
How big is it?
As a business, we are 75 people strong and growing constantly. We are made up of engineers, QA, UI/UX, product, delivery and marketing.
Where are your teammates located?
We are a fully remote company and have been since 2013, so as an example on my current product team, I have teammates from —Argentina, Brazil, Egypt, Montenegro, Spain, Ukraine and India. As a business, we have colleagues across 22 countries.
What does your team do? What are you responsible for?
We are primarily split into cross-functional teams developing Android, iOS and web applications together with our partner clients. As Product Manager, I work with our clients to identify customer needs and business objectives before articulating what success looks like in the product, and rallying the team to deliver on that.
What are the components of a strong remote culture?
Communication is everything. Respecting each other's personality types, communication styles and being comfortable enough to repeat and reiterate key items on calls.
I would put Empathy as a very close second. For me, that’s the foundation stone of Product Management in any business, not just remote. Empathy for the user, but also empathy for your teammates.
Finally, relationships are built on trust and that comes from honesty and openness. It can take time, but regular meet-ups at our Barcelona office certainly help to establish and build trust in a way that can be more difficult to do remotely.
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?
It’s all about healthy and honest communication. It’s about knowing your teammates and being able to challenge each other in a really constructive way.
Relationships are built on trust and that comes from honesty and openness. It can take time, but regular meet-ups at our Barcelona office certainly help to establish and build trust in a way that can be more difficult to do remotely.
What's your biggest challenge as a remote leader?
Product discovery is a little challenging, but you simply adapt and do things slightly differently using online tools such as Miro, etc. We approach them in a more focused, time-boxed manner so I would say that the result are now often better remotely.
My Remote Manager Toolbox
We have monthly knowledge-sharing Brown Bag sessions, a Whitespectre book club (supporting by a personal learning and development fund), we run remote yoga classes and have a Running for Trees initiative, where the company plants a tree for every 10 kilometers a team member runs, swims or cycles.
We also have regular meet-ups in Barcelona, where team building is a key component—everything from city-wide treasure hunts to Foosball tournaments, and of course nights out in the marvelous city.
We have weekly company-wide mini quizzes, and we use an app called Donut to trigger a random match up with a colleague every two weeks for chat. These are great ways to get to know colleagues you ordinarily don’t cross paths with that often.
Our Product/UI/UX meetings usually have some form of topic to kick off discussions and exchange of ideas. For example, we recently had a session where everyone brought a good/bad example of UX they recently experienced outside of work—that’s a great way to start some interesting debates.
Products & Tools
We use Donut, quizzes and even build an app in-house called ‘Give Thanks’—we use that around year end to anonymously thank our colleagues for their hard hard, expertise and support over the last 12 months.
Resources for remote leaders
As a Product person, it’s primary covering that area so it’s a mixture of Medium articles, product management books and several podcasts.
Make your company a great place to work
"Adding Hailey has been by far the lowest effort, highest impact thing we’ve done to bring our globally scattered team together!" - Mary Grace Reich