I have been running my mobile app development startup Emberify for about 3 years in India. Since I started up, I have been living short durations as a Digital Nomad before coming back home. Initially it was really difficult managing my team of about 8 people remotely. I am going to be sharing some of my experiences of managing a team as a Digital Nomad.
I remember in my first few trips I communicated with my team with email and phone. It was not so great especially when I was in the US with a big time zone difference. Sometimes it got frustrating since it was getting difficult to be productive as a team. We started using Slack last year which made communication so much better and faster. The whole concept of real time notifications with a chat made the conversations much better. I still do rely on some phone calls, but have had a peace of mind when I travel that my team is easier to reach and communicate with. Slack makes the communication much more organised with proper threads and file management.
By setting up some good processes like regular code documentation, QA documentation, cloud backups and grouping of teams, we managed to make things move faster especially when I am on the road. These processes are not only good in the long-run but is really helping us while we scale. Also, one of our senior developers does manage to take responsibility to help rest of the team when I’m not there making it easier for me. I think in small teams some processes should be set up that can really help with managing the team remotely.
Apart playing the role as a Product Manager, I spend time on digital marketing and growth for our mobile apps. With communication and processes being better, I can easily focus more time on my marketing work. Though on days I tend to slack when travelling and get a break. For me, travel really helps with creativity. I do get some good ideas for products when I am experiencing new cities, cultures and people. When I get back to office after few weeks of travel my productivity generally is at 100% and also have a new level of motivation.
As a Digital Nomad it can be tough to manage a team remotely especially since the concept of remote work may be new to most people on your team. With time you need to figure out communication and collaborating especially on parts of work that can’t be worked on over a chat. It does take patience and time to get productivity, though in a long run the results can be really rewarding.