How Leading Executives Manage Distributed Tech Teams

PowerToFly Staff

March 28, 2016

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We know that it's hard to build diverse top caliber tech teams - especially when you are trying to source your candidates from one location. PowerToFly has a solution to this problem. We match managers with women in tech who can work from anywhere. By taking location out of the equation, hiring managers get access to an enormous skills-based talent pool that's valued for its productivity and not hours spent in an office.

Since we have launched, over 1400 companies have come to PowerToFly to hire women in tech and build distributed teams. Today we are sharing our new book, "How To Build Tech Teams That Include and Retain Top Women," where we've rounded up some of the best advice from experts from our clients at BuzzFeed, Time Inc., The Washington Post and many more places who are leveraging PowerToFly to build virtual tech teams to make their businesses stronger, more diverse and above all incredibly productive. These teams work 24/7 across time zones around the world. They are the future of work.

So how do you manage and motivate employees in different locations and across time zones? Read what the experts have to say below and download our full eBook to find out more.

4 Top Ways To Manage Your Remote Team


Schedule predictable, recurring meetings-and don't cancel them. "Make sure one-on-ones happen," says Robert Duffy, VP of mobile application and API engineering at Time Inc. "Especially in a team that's distributed, calendaring becomes somewhat chaotic. Those are times where you learn about your get to know what's working and what's not working on an individual basis."

Remember, the more autonomy you give your team members over their schedules, the more productive they will be. "There are a select few hours during the day where engineers have revved up to the flow state and are producing the best code," says Andrew Montalenti, CTO and Co-Founder, "If you interrupt an engineer then, you're disrupting this state and it can take them a while to get back there again."


Get to know your team members outside of the (home) office. Encourage social bonding and trust by fostering a strong culture. "We work hard to maintain core values (quality over quantity, keep it simple, "for parents, by parents," and done is better than perfect), all of which speak to the idea of making your work fit around your family, rather than the other way around," explains Allyson Downey founder and CEO at weeSpring.

And just because you're virtual, doesn't mean you can't have fun celebrating success. "We have an end of the week ‘wrappy hour,' says Duffy at Time Inc. "Everyone dials in and shows off what they've done for the previous week. That's a really good bonding activity."

If you can afford it, occasional in-person gatherings can help a virtual team grow even stronger.

"We fly a bunch of employees to a single city and celebrate recent company victories together, while also collaborating face-to-face for a few days," says Montalenti at


Set expectations. Let employees know what they are accountable for, and work with them to create a strategy to determine what is to be done each day and week. "Don't spend time dictating tasks you think are right, spend time discussing ideas and coming up with a solution together," says Jarrod Dicker, Director of Ad Product & Engineering at The Washington Post.

Clément Huyghebaert, Director of Engineering at BuzzFeed, agrees collaboration from day one is crucial to success. "If the remote worker does not understand the direction/strategy of the company after two to three weeks, it probably means that we didn't include them in our process enough."


Make fluid communication a priority. Create a virtual space for your team to swap ideas and build connections, whether that's via Slack, video chat or another easily accessible tool. "We make a lot of use of online video conferences, says Duffy at Time Inc. "We're looking at getting fixed TV stations with cameras on top of them that people can gather around at our different locations."

Real-time communication and tracking tools like JIRA can get you that much closer to inbox 0. "We use Slack as our primary channel of communication (otherwise, everyone's email inboxes would explode)," says Downey at weeSpring. "We also use Google Hangouts often to talk things through live."

Andrea Goulet, CEO of Corgibytes, adds: "Having a group chat tool (we use Slack) has completely changed the way we do business and is essential for a remote team. It keeps all our conversations out in the open and creates opportunities for team members to connect. We've been able to use their API along with Lita to build an internal tool...that "fetches" information for us, such as client budgets, blocked tasks, reminders and more."

Finally, when it comes to managing a distributed team it's important to be spontaneous and don't worry so much about perfection. "Welcome experimentation, making mistakes and learning together," advises Dicker at The Washington Post. "We learn from those mistakes and build a stronger, more sustainable solution because of it."

Want to know more? We're giving you an exclusive opportunity to download our new book for FREE. Our panel of experts will answer all your questions about building talented, diverse tech teams that exceed expectations and get the job done right. Whether you're new to managing remote teams or strongly considering giving it a try, you'll love this book.

Opinions expressed by the author are not necessarily those of WITI.

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