Distributed teams practices: 5 golden rules for managers to live by


If you’re leading a distributed team, you may have realized over the last two or so years that there’s so much more to it than downloading Zoom and sauntering into the virtual space. Much like thought goes into the architecture of office spaces to enhance team collaboration and productivity, the same thought needs to go into how we function in a digital reality. Moving beyond how we arrange desks and what motivational words we hang on the walls, leaders of distributed teams need to consider how to rearrange work processes, rituals for connecting, and more. 

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Why it’s important to have structure on a distributed team

A distributed team without structure is a ticking time bomb; set up to fail, even implode.  Think of it this way,  a company and the teams that form them are like microcosms of our society at large. The reason why we are able to function well as a society is because there are a set of common norms in place - a structure. Traffic lights to guide our movements and laws to help guide a set of expected behaviors. Remote teams, most especially those working from different cities and time zones, need this same sort of guidance to overcome their challenges. A set of “rules and tools” to harmonize processes, work methods, and expectations.


1. Connection has to be intentional

The remote and distributed workforce models are widely appreciated by modern workers, but not without certain pitfalls. When the pandemic hit, our ability to socialize and connect with people took a hit, and for many this was detrimental. Harvard Business Review discusses the rise in loneliness, citing that it “brings health problems, reduced productivity, turnover, and burnout.” Teams whose sense of connection is broken risk falling into a spell of underperformance. Why? Relationships, trust, and the ability to communicate comfortably with one another make up the infrastructure of successful teams. 

Managers, while your remote team cannot physically be together during lunch hour, be sure to set some virtual lunches on your team’s calendar. These casual moments of connection we once had at the office were essential in creating positive team dynamics, so don’t let them fall flat. This is especially true as you bring in new hires who have not had the chance to meet anyone in person.



Remote teams require the right tools to function seamlessly. It’s your job to help your remote team move into a virtual space, and ensure they use the most appropriate tools for their needs.

Choosing the right set of distributed work tools typically starts at the organizational level to ensure that all teams across the company are working harmoniously. However, it’s important to ask your team what they need, too. Be open to hearing about what types of software they might need to be more productive, efficient, and even creative from home. And of course, be prepared to pitch them to your own manager.



There are many shapes and forms communication can take on distributed teams. Think about daily written communication tools like Slack, email tools like Outlook, video communication tools like Weve allows distributed team managers to keep communication lines open at all times, heightening the employee voice. Offering a feedback platform for employees to share both their hopes and challenges is a game-changer for employee engagement. 



No more whiteboards and post-its to get a good brainstorm going. You’ll need to find new ways for your distributed team to collaborate. Consider a tool like Miro to host successful collaboration sessions or a project management tool like Asana to keep track of collaboration on your team. Our team has thrived using it! 



Now more than ever, teams need to look back and discuss how things have been going, together. These moments of reflection are essential for teams to have honest discussions with one another about team dynamics, or even work processes.

Retrospectives are team meetings where managers and employees sit together and reflect on the work done during a certain period (usually since the last retrospective). These team meetings allow employees to be agile and iterate, so they can constantly improve.

How can leaders thrive in a distributed environment? 

We’ve covered how you can help remote employees thrive, but what about you? You play a crucial role in leading a healthy, high-functioning dispersed team, but a team is only as strong as the leader who guides them. So, let’s take a minute to make sure you’re well set up as well. Here’s some advice from Weves’s own managers on managing distributed teams. 

Ask your manager for the tools YOU need to perform. Don’t hesitate to voice what’s needed to be successful in a distributed reality (just be sure to make a case for its impact).
If your manager is not scheduling you for 1-on-1s, be sure to ask for them. You need an outlet as much as your employees, and expectations around your success is critical to the success of your entire team.
Find a mentor in your company who has worked in a distributed workplace before so you can bounce ideas. If that’s not the case, take the time to connect with other managers to share best practices and learnings around navigating this new reality. 

If you encourage work-life balance on your remote team, be sure to prioritize it for yourself too. Lead by example In conclusion, leading a distributed team requires intentional effort 

In conclusion, leading a distributed team requires intentional effort and a focus on structure. To ensure success, managers must prioritize connection and provide tools for their remote teams to succeed. Communication and collaboration tools are essential for maintaining open lines of communication and fostering teamwork. Additionally, retrospective tools allow for reflection and continuous improvement. As leaders in a distributed environment, it is important to advocate for the tools and support needed, prioritize regular check-ins, seek guidance from experienced mentors, and lead by example in promoting work-life balance. By following these golden rules, managers can create a thriving and productive distributed team. To learn more about effective practices for managing distributed teams, continue exploring our blog for further insights and best practices.