hirobe talks: Brett Birschbach on Managing a Remote Team
Part2:Managing a Remote Team
*Please note the video is the full interview across all four subjects. Jump to 17minutes for Part 2.
Hey, everyone, it's Tom Johnson athirobe. And welcome back to our video series. Today, we're joined by Brett.Brettis VP of AEM Engineering at Bounteous, an Adobe Platinum solution partner. He has been with the business since2008 andhas built and led the AEM practice from its infancy, just five short years ago.
I think many of you will know Brett in the industry andseenBounteous around. It's a highly recognised and successful business within the Adobe platform world, so I wanted to invite Brett here today to tell us a little bit about that journey and how they've been so successful.
Today we’re digging into remote working and keeping your team engaged while spread out across different states, countries or continents.
So,we did say this is more relevant than ever now that remote work is really herefor a lot of businesses. We come across businesses where it can be a challenge,or it can be an opportunity. We're a year in and we've had to find the new norm, and of course there'll be businesses that go back to doing everything in the office anddoing that side,but I'd love to understand your view. I know your own personal situation, you'renot based in an office, you're not on the doorstep of an office so what's your theory around remote working and the culture of that?
Great question.You know,in Bounteous we've got plenty of offices and they'll reopen at some point and there's absolutely people that would love to be back in the office,so I don't want to downplay that. An office can be a phenomenal place to get people together,but you're right, we're in a situation right now where it's just not possible,sohow do we do that? Wellas you mentioned I've been here in Green Bay which is four hours from our nearest office,and I think that alone is a little bit telling in terms of the opportunity that's been afforded to me at a company where I'm not near an office and not treated differently. That kind of alludes to some of the things that we'll talk about,but you know it goes back to what I said before, it really is abouthow do we humanise people,because if we take a step back, working from home can be the most efficient way to get work done, at least if you're talking the area that I play in - the technical part of this where it's architectsanddevelopers banging out implementation code.
I remember it used to be where I would go on site as adeveloper,and I would literally estimate getting half the amount of work done than I was going toget in my home office. So,a home office and remote work can be phenomenally efficient, it can also be phenomenally polarising. Like,you can become a hermit. You can live in your house and not leave your house for weeks on end, and eventually just kind of be detached from the world–and certainly co-workers–and so as a business we need to look athow do we get beyond that?
First off, making sure you think of your people in the right way. People aren't just employees, they're not just your co-workers and God forbid, they are not resources. They are people,and we talked about thispreviously, I don't need to hit that anymore in terms oftreating people the same, but I think getting to know and love your co-workers at a personal level. Do they have to be your absolute best friends in the world? No, but I mean, we should at least enjoy them. We spend half our waking life with people that we work with, shouldn't they at least be in our circle of people that we enjoy? And so,I think thereareways that you can foster that,and it doesn't have to be a bunch of extra programmes and a bunch of extra time. Now,there's a time and place for that, like certainlyTalentCulture will throw a bunch of you know, hey, we'regoing tohave a trivia night, if you want to join, feel free. We're going to have a bake-off,we're going to take a TV show and make a knock-off version.TalentCulture at Bounteous does a lot of that stuff.
But if that's all you're doing, I want to caution. I call it bread and circuses. It's kind of an old Roman thing where they kind of threw all the bread and circusesat the general populace. And, meanwhile, the culture was starting to rot. The same thing can happen if all that’s happening areTalentCulturebringing inHR programmes. It needs to be more, one of the things that we'll do here at Bounteous is, we have something called donut buddies. And this isn't unique to us, I think weactually gota programme online that helps us do this via Slack. So,it's not like we came up with this. But it's just an idea to get your co-workers together, the people that are working, your team members and have them on a monthly basis, spend halfanhour to meet each other and talk about "not work things".
Simple things like that. There's only so much that you're going to be able to do,like we're still here to get work done, right? So,there's the reality of that. But you can build so much interaction into your daily work habits that is just useful time. You know, like most projects, when you're doing agile development, you're going to have daily meetings for status.Well,you canmake sure you're doing them via Zoom. Make sure that, you know, when you're doing coaching meetings, for instance one-on-one coaching, like those should be at least weekly or bi-weekly, make sure that those are face-to-face via Zoom. One of the biggest things too,whichmight seem like a little thing if your culture isn't this way, but cameras on. Phones are obsolete. You can do voice just as well via Zoom but there's so much translated with facial expressions, a smile that shows that you're happy to see somebody, these are the little things that add up over time.
And it's amazing. Let's say your company doesn't quite have that culture yet, you need to find a few people that are on board with it. And you'd be amazed, once one person turns their camera on in a meeting,all of a sudden, everybody will turn their cameras on. And we're not going to be dogmatic.We don't say that you're required to put your camera on, but we will encourage people to put their camera on. For instance, we have a weekly meeting with the entire AEM competency, and we'll have dozens of people on that meeting. If we noticed that some cameras aren't on, we'll quickly encourage people to turn the cameras on, it just makes a big difference for people to start getting to know each other.
It's not one big home run, it's the little thingsthatyou can build it into your daily routines,soit justbecomesthe norm that you have these types of conversations. I feel like I talk to my co-workers allthetime.I don't get anywhere near them, you know, but I do talk to them face-to-face via Zoom all the time. So,there are ways to make the remote thing not actually feel all that remote. And then when you do need to put your head down and get work done, you can.
Yeah, we're a big advocate for that and video is something that we use day in, day out. We have one meeting in the morning, every morning, and then an afternoon meeting. And that'sreally just a catch up. I talk about what we've done throughout the day, what we've achieved what's goingon for the next day. And I think that isreally important for a lot of businesses out there. Itkeeps you engaged. I think as a person on the video, you're a lot more likely to be engaged, you're not going to be sat there on your phone looking away from the camera, if you know people can see you. And it's not a tactic to make sure that people are working, but engagement is a lot higher, obviously withvideo on.
I absolutely agree.The temptation is always there to get working during meetings. And I challenge people, if you don't have your camera on there are sometimes where you're just notgoing tobe able to help yourself. I'm just going toquickly answer this email. I'm going toquickly answer this text. So absolutely, I think it's a good point that sometimes it's good for us to turn our videos on just to hold ourselves accountable. Especially if we're doing a one-on-one, I mean, if you're in a one-on-one, get your hands off the keyboard, people know.Focus on that person as if you were in the room with that person.
I think it'sdefinitely the accountability side of it.That brings us onto our next topic around culture and fostering those habits to create the right environment. If you’d like to carry on reading this conversation, skip to the next post by clicking here.
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