It's almost noon on Wednesday so I head to a meeting with my team. For some of us, it's lunch time, but for others, it's early morning, late afternoon, or even midnight. This is my remote team, which helps me run a seven-figure business and take care of over 4,000 students.

How do we get so much done when we can't brainstorm face-to-face? How do we get along so well without water cooler chats? Here's how.

Every Day

1. Team Check-ins

Each person checks in at their team's Slack channel to share what they accomplished the previous day, what their priorities are for the current day, and what they need from their team members.

2. Slack Messaging

We instant message each other on Slack throughout the day to make announcements, ask and answer questions, and share information and resources. And to make jokes.

Every Week

3. Monday Morning Emails

I send an email highlighting all the ways different team members have demonstrated our core values .

The emails "remind us that we are a team," says Darla Fields, Mirasee Student Coach, "we can reach out and help each other, and empower each other all from across the globe."

(Read more on this practice here)

4. Monday Morning Videos

My executive assistant sends out a video newsflash on the week's highlights, such as team birthdays and other celebrations, travels, promotions we're making, and a surprise video.

5. All-Team Meetings

Everyone meets through video conferencing on Zoom. First, we take turns sharing our work or personal wins. Then we discuss upcoming projects, changes in policies, and other issues.

We end with an Ask-Danny-anything session. The questions can range from the mundane to the profound, such as, "Are there online course topics (by our students) that we absolutely cannot support for moral or legal reasons?"

6. Extracurricular Team Meetings

We also have unofficial weekly meetings for interested team members. These include a wellness chat, where a team member makes a presentation and leads a discussion about a wellness topic they know well. We've covered topics like depression, strength training, and meditation.

Every Monday, people can have lunch "together" in the Family Zoom room. We have French Fridays so those who want to learn French can practice.

My team members love each other so much they even meet on Sundays. With their cameras switched off, they each work on their side businesses. After two hours, they share what they've accomplished.

7. 15Five Reports

15Five is like a thermometer for our team. It helps me and team managers gauge the well-being of individuals. Reports include what's going well, what challenges they're experiencing, and what we can do to improve work for them.

Team members also give props to each other, either by sharing how someone exemplified one of our core values, or by giving high fives.

Every Month

8. Financial Report

Transparency is one of our core values, so every month, our CFO presents the financial report. It increases ownership and lets everyone see that, ultimately, the company's success depends on each team member doing their work well.

9. Learning Day

We devote one day every month to learning. We set aside all work so we can focus on developing new skills. Rocky Kev, Course Technologist, says Learning Day "raises the company's knowledge as a whole, cultivating professionals within the company."

Less Frequently

10. Retreat

Every eight months or so, we have an in-person retreat where we see each other in the flesh. We get away from distractions to brainstorm, deliberate ideas, and devise strategies.

It's not all work, though. We bond over meals, morning meditation, movie nights, and talent shows. Lindsey Hayward, Student Coach, says of her first retreat, "We arrived as colleagues, but left as family."

Most leaders of traditional, in-person organizations think productivity and teamwork suffer in remote teams. Our experience shows remote teams can be extremely productive and happy.

Relationships, culture, and collaboration don't deteriorate just because people are scattered across the globe. We work hard to build the team and don't take it for granted. As Josephine Fox, my Executive Assistant sums up, "supporting each other becomes a joy and not a burden."

Published on: Mar 30, 2016
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