NEUE WORLD just turned a year old in April, and over the year we've grown to a solid family of 8. We've learned a lot about what works and what doesn't work for remote teams. Having launched NEUE WORLD at the peak of the pandemic, remote work was our biggest asset. While the biggest advantage can also hold challenges such as time zone difference, task management, client calls and delivery timelines. Here are some of the most important lessons we’ve learned so far.
There are many benefits to remote teams. Remote teams are increasingly common, and they are becoming more common every day. We started NEUE WORLD during the pandemic - a relatable time where there was a considerable amount of shift from working in the office to working from home (and or cafes). This shift made it easier for us to build a complete remote design agency - it meant that we needed to make sure to respect the boundaries of our team.
Although remote teams are more productive and efficient based on our experience - it’s challenging to keep it enjoyable for a long time. Having said that, we realized that as an agency we didn’t want to focus on strict timings but rather on strict deadlines; our team can work for 2 hours a day if they want to as long as the work gets done. We made sure the team attends one 15-minute check-in call on a daily basis, after which depending on their preferences our team works at Night or during the Day.
As we grew, we realized our structure and project management tools needed to evolve with us - we started with Todoist and Trello when we were a team of 2-3. We quickly realized that these tools are not scalable for a team of 8 working remotely in different time zones. We tested Asana and ClickUp for a brief period of time before we completely decided to stick to ClickUp as our primary Project Management Tool. If you would like to know more about how we manage our projects on ClickUp - please read more about it here.
One of the biggest challenges we faced was with meetings. As we started growing, the number of meetings increased and the less focused we all got. The more remote you are, the less likely it is that your team will be an effective group of individuals working together to get things done. In order to make meetings a viable part of our process, we had to figure out how we could do them without wasting time or losing focus.
With remote working, there is no need to work in an office or have a strict check-in and checkout time. This allows you to be flexible with your schedule and get things done when it's convenient for you. As long as you are being productive, your team will not care if you are working at 5 am or 10 pm (or both). If a deadline is looming near, all that matters is that the work gets done—and in most cases, people will prefer urgency over hours put in on a particular day or week.
In fact, this focus on flexibility has allowed our teams to become more productive than ever before! We've seen an increase from 60% to 80% in productivity because of this change. Instead of trying to squeeze every last minute into their day by working late hours after everyone else had gone home for the evening (which can be stressful), members have been able to start earlier in the morning and continue working through lunchtime breaks; some even work remotely at home during weekends when their family members aren't around!
In the beginning, we had a flat hierarchy of team members. This meant that everyone was equal and could do anything. It was great for the start of our company when we were small and didn't have many projects to handle. But as time went on and we grew bigger and bigger, it became harder for everyone to work together efficiently. So we decided to move to a tiered approach for our team based on their skill sets and experience levels. This way, each person would be able to focus on certain tasks rather than being forced into doing everything at once—which saved time overall!
In summary, we’ve come a long way since the dawn of remote work. The most important lesson we learned is that there is no one-size-fits-all approach—there are many ways to get things done in a distributed team and they can be customized according to each company’s needs. Our evolution has been guided by our flexibility, but also shaped by our ground rules, daily habits, and holding principles that safeguard the team's sanity while trying to keep it enjoyable.