84: Remote Work with Craig Stoss

84: Remote Work with Craig Stoss

Craig Stoss has lead teams both in the office and remotely. Here, we talk about how we handle having team members across a huge timezone differential.


I’d love your thoughts on this episode! Comment below, and like/love/share/support if you found this inspiring, thought-provoking, or useful!

Charlotte Ward 0:13
Hello, and welcome to Episode 84 of the customer support leaders podcast. I’m Charlotte Ward.

The theme for this week is remote work. So stay tuned for five leaders talking about that very topic. I’d like to welcome back to the podcast today, Craig Stoss, Craig, it’s lovely to have you back again.

Craig Stoss 0:38
Thank you very much Charlotte.

Charlotte Ward 0:39
The topic for this week is remote work. And I know that you have transitioned recently from leading teams in offices to leading a remote team and working remotely yourself on a on a full time basis. Right. I’d love us to talk about how you’re finding that

Craig Stoss 0:57
you’re leading remote teams. is a challenge sometimes right and especially remote teams that aren’t located in similar time zones, or speak the same language first language necessarily, though these are all considerations when thinking about remote teams. One of the biggest challenges of leading remote teams is is the communication, especially now with tools like Slack, where you get these walls of text. And while their build is kind of asynchronous communication tools, the problem is that if someone’s sleeping and wakes up many hours later to look at those tools, the important information is buried inside of a haystack of text that’s now gone and multiply that across all the channels that someone is intended to, to monitor. And so that’s the main focus for me in any remote team is making sure that my communication methods and styles meet the applicable nature of the people that I’m speaking with.

Charlotte Ward 1:54
Do you think that there is a real dependency there on the tooling or do you think that we can use tools that really actually are quite real time, as you said, like slack to, to behave in an asynchronous way.

Craig Stoss 2:07
I mean, I think the tooling exists today to enhance that. Tools aren’t the be all and end all and you, you’re not going to solve with a tool, something that is a people problem. If your attitude is I work from nine to five eastern time and, you know, take it or leave it, you know, that’s probably not going to work, no matter what tool you use. And so, part of this is to adapt your style to the people that you have remote and empathise with their needs and their considerations. I worked remotely for a company for many years and one thing that was critically obvious was that we weren’t in HQ. Every decision every every celebration, that happened, you know, sponson spontaneously in that office didn’t permeate over to our office, or to the remote employees. Those are the things that you need to think about is if you’re celebrating something, how do you celebrate? When someone is not co located with you,

Charlotte Ward 3:07
you’re bright, you’re bringing back many a memory of emails arriving saying there are cakes in the downstairs kitchen.

Craig Stoss 3:13
Not only that, but that that now you have that FOMO or that that feeling of lack of engagement because other people are celebrating without you

Charlotte Ward 3:20
really understand in the context that your employee is operating in for all sorts of reasons. Right? You touched a little bit there on the sort of FOMO the fear of missing out on everything from celebrations to information, right. I think that both of those are actually kind of isolating. If you don’t feel like you’re, you’re taking an equal part or share of those, including remote employees in celebrations is difficult. But I think including remote teams in communications shouldn’t be that difficult, asynchronously as the word that we already Use what do you understand that really to mean? I mean, what does that look like? operationally,

Craig Stoss 4:05
the biggest thing to me are important announcements and team meetings, when I’m doing asynchronous communication for important announcements. Generally those be delivered, you know, in a spontaneous type of meeting or or something that, you know, has the most engagement possible, especially if you do have an office team and a remote team. And, and if there’s a timezone conflict where someone is unable to attend that, how do you spread that that word and message in an appropriate way, especially if it’s impacting their, their roles or the company as a whole, you know, recording that meeting and sharing it that would be one way. Another way would be to make sure that that information is summarised in an email or something that is usually more tangible than than a slack message or some other communication that would have to be sought out and found in the tool itself, but something like that helps. Secondly, is the team meetings. And my approach to that has always been to hold the team meetings at a time where as much as possible everyone can attend. And then when not possible, make myself available in the timezone that’s appropriate again as much as possible, and communicate the regular things and even hold the meeting a second time even. I also think that face to face in that instance is important to a really great asynchronous communication tool is video. And I don’t mean zoom calls, I mean tools like Wistia, soapbox and loom and video card and send these short snippets to your teammates till they see you engaging with them in a different way and can respond in kind. I really liked what he said that particularly about holding the meeting twice, something I’ve often toyed with and I currently have team members, seven hours ahead of me and eight hours behind me and we are just about squeezing an hour in the middle of the week where somebody comes in early, somebody stays a bit with I think as I hire across an even broader set of time zones, which I will be doing soon, I really like the idea of not forcing somebody to come in it really will be in the middle of their night. I’ve toyed with almost having a wandering team meeting that wanders around the week that I can get 80% of my team on at any any moment, but it that it’s a different 80% all the time. Absolutely. And typically speaking for most time zones, you can do something with your day, maybe you come in an hour early or an hour late, but I do feel that that pressure is on the management, not on individual contributors to come in always earlier. Always stay late.

Charlotte Ward 6:41
That’s it for today. Go to customer support leaders.com forward slash 84 for the show notes, and I’ll see you next time.


Transcribed by https://otter.ai


A little disclaimer about the podcast, blog interviews and articles on this site: the views, thoughts, and opinions expressed in the text and podcast belong solely to the author or interviewee, and not necessarily to any employer, organization, committee or other group or individual.