You can’t open a digital magazine or news site without seeing another headline about distributed work these days. Yet, while it may be new to some industries, it’s actually been around for decades. In the first episode of the “Remotely Possible” podcast, I talked with Travis Bogard, Founder & CEO at Phonon X, a leader who has been part of distributed teams for decades. Here’s an excerpt from our conversation, including the tools he uses, the processes he embraces, and how he makes it possible to have a fully functional, highly creative, distributed team working hard together every day.
Introducing Travis, and His Intro to Distributed Work
Travis’ impressive resume includes stints at renowned companies such as AOL, Samsung, and Uber before founding his current company. With his diverse background in engineering, product development, and team management, Travis brings a wealth of knowledge to the conversation on distributed work.
“I was at AOL—part of the founding team of AOL Instant Messenger,” Travis said. “And [I] was very fascinated early on of how groups that are distributed from each other could communicate and interact.”
He put that experience into action throughout his career, including at Uber—with its San Francisco headquarters integrated with numerous city hubs—and Samsung.
“My team prior to this, I built, was about 300 people across 14 time zones—so, highly distributed, kind of a mixture of some office hubs, and then people who actually didn’t sit in an office at all,” he said.
It’s no wonder that with this background, he’s chosen—as we have here at Frameable—to build his new team without the constraints of location, too. While most of the team is within 5 hours of each other, they also have an Eastern Europe teammate. So how do they make it all work?
“We focus on our synchronous moments—which is around 7:30 to 10:00—is kind of that sweet spot where we tried to put most of our meetings, that where we want people to be together and be able to come together,” he said. “And then the rest of it is very asynchronous.”
Best Practices for Managing Distributed Teams
Drawing from his experiences, throughout the podcast, Travis shared some valuable insights and best practices for managing distributed teams:
1) Set Clear Goals and Prioritize Effective Communication
Travis emphasized the significance of clearly defining and communicating goals to team members. He stressed the importance of repeated communication to ensure everyone is aligned with the objectives. Additionally, he advocated for documenting and preserving communication for future reference.
2) Encourage Collaboration
Travis believes in fostering a culture of collaboration within distributed teams. He makes a point to encourage team members to connect and actively facilitates conversations between individuals as needed to ensure knowledge and ideas flow seamlessly throughout the team.
3) Embrace Asynchronous Communication
A crucial aspect of managing distributed teams is asynchronous communication. Travis suggested maximizing synchronous moments for essential meetings and using tools such as asynchronous voice messaging platforms to maintain effective communication at other times. This approach allows team members to work independently while staying connected.
For more of Travis’ insights into leading and developing distributed teams, listen to the Remotely Possible podcast, episode 1. Interested in sharing your distributed work experience with our listeners? Apply to be my guest for a future episode.