Managing Remote Teams: Katie Womersley (VP of Engineering at Buffer)
Working with a remote team has many upsides, but managing a remote developer team is one tough job to have. There are loads of challenges you wouldn’t have to worry about in an office, like possible time zone differences or making sure people feel part of the company. It requires a lot of attention to keep everything on track.
We sat down with Katie Womersley, the VP of Engineering at Buffer. She’s managing many remote engineering teams, and she shared a lot of invaluable experience she picked up over the years in dealing with all the obstacles of working with distributed teams.
In this episode, we're covering:
-Usual challenges remote developer teams face
-Key elements to make a remote team work
-DOs and DONTs of managing a remote team
-Handling time zone differences
-On-boarding people new to remote work
Excerpt from the interview:
The dark side of managing a remote developer team:
“Remote developer teams often have mental health issues that people don't talk about. It could make your teammates less productive, less healthy, and more likely to quit and go work somewhere in an office where they feel better. Anxiety and depression correlate with feeling lonely or being isolated. Naturally, when working remotely, people often work from home most of the time.
Many but not all developers find themselves a bit more introverted, a bit more on the quiet side, so they’re not going out every day with a ton of friends. One thing we see is that the rate of anxiety and depression is higher with remote workers, so the most practical advice is to be very open in talking about mental health with people, because it really affects their work and their ability to be a successful teammate on the job.
Remember, a manager is not a therapist; it's not your job to solve the issue, but it’s your job to be aware of it and to make sure your teammate gets proper help. Make sure they go see a doctor, go to a co-working space, get out and do some exercise, or get an actual therapist before it ends up becoming a real health problem.”