1. Gather feedback from your team members. One on one meetings followed by group meetings work best especially if you’re dealing with cultural difference. People from some cultures will be less likely to contribute in a group setting so you will lose their input. Furthermore, gathering input first, creates buy in so that your ideas will be implemented.
2. Create a team culture. When team members come from different time zones and cultural background their cultural scripts will dictate their behavior. You business need to be clear about when people need to be available, work flows, who you team will be when they show up to meetings. Do they show up as social entrepreneurs (what does that mean and look like), are they relationship based sales people (again what does that mean and look like – define that for your team).
3. Create policies and procedure for each function on your team. A function can be taken care of by one member, or multiple members.
4. Have regular check-ins and a meeting format that you stick to.
5. Ensure high fidelity technology. Skype is better than the phone, phone is better than chat, chat is better than email.
6. Use some form of team software to ensure projects and tasks are updated and to monitor progress.
7. Make specific team members responsible for specific leadership functions. Who will ensure your systems are running properly? Who will make sure meeting are coordinated and people can show up? Who will provide mentorship for certain functions (one leader can’t do it all without burning out).
8. Discuss complex (how to build a spaceship) issues using the highest fidelity technology – like video while sharing your desktop. Discuss simple issues (when should we hold the next meeting) over email etc.
9. Do not share things last minute. Avoid emergencies with advance planning. The team leader sets the direction and the pace. If the leader is in chaos the team will be in chaos.
10. Can remote teams increase innovation? Yes, if following step 1. Cultural, gender (surface level diversity) and skill/ knowledge diversity (deep level diversity) increase innovation. Deep level diversity is what you’re really going for however cultural, gender, age, and so on can be great proxies. The more homogeneous a team the less opportunity for innovation because people will be more likely to think similarly. However, ideas need to be shared in a safe environment to avoid group think (people going along to get along) and sunk costs (continuing on a failing path because of the efforts already put in).