Managing Distributed Teams is Product Management

Anuraag Verma
Apr 30, 2018

Sarah Kuehnle, Head of Product at Dribbble, discusses the benefits of remote work, how she fosters a strong company culture, and effective strategies for remote collaboration.

It’s become more common for people, and in some cases entire companies, to work remotely. New tools for communication and collaboration have made it easier for people to live where they want to live and still stay engaged with their teams and work productively.

Having more freedom for life outside of work can even contribute to greater motivation and productivity at work. As a result, companies don’t feel as inclined to keep everyone in an office in one city as they once did.

But there are challenges in managing distributed teams. How do you create a strong company culture, keep everyone engaged, facilitate collaboration on creative work, and maintain trust?

Sarah shares how her team at Dribbble collaborates, and provides several actionable strategies for improving company culture and maintaining trust.

Each day, Sarah and her team do a stand-up on Slack. They each share three things:

  • What they did yesterday
  • What they’re doing today
  • Blockers that are preventing them getting something done

Without having people looking over each other’s shoulders, it’s critical to provide transparency and communicate frequently.

But Sarah says that trust is not something you build, it’s something you have from the start. “We have trust until a person can’t be trusted anymore,” she says.

Sarah also talks about how Dribbble uses online channels and in-person events to help people build relationships.

You’ll learn from this episode about collaboration, company culture, and remote work.

Here are the highlights:

  • Sarah discusses the benefits of remote work (5:05)
  • How Dribbble facilitates remote collaboration (7:10)
  • Sarah’s approach to running stand-up meetings remotely (11:30)
  • How Dribbble fosters a strong company culture (15:45)
  • Sarah shares how she helps people who feel disconnected (21:00)
  • How distributed teams can maintain trust with each other (24:40)

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