From A Distance: A comprehensive How-to Guide to Remote Leadership

From a Distance - a book about remote leadership in support by Valentina Thörner

For remote work to become a sustainable option for more companies, across all industries, we need more remote leaders. We need people who are comfortable and confident leading teams from a distance. And while it’s easy to find resources about remote work and location independent jobs, remote leadership is often left to chance – blaming the remoteness of it all, if things don’t work out.

The truth is, the success of your team does not depend on each team member’s location. Your team’s success depends on your leadership skills – in a remote environment. And these skills can be learned!

From a Distance is a practical book about how to create and lead a successful support team in a remote environment. I interviewed remote leaders at AutomatticGeckoboardHelpscoutMeetEdgarPagerDutyRoomiapp, SupportDriven, Zapier and others, to learn how they organize, structure and lead their remote teams. Even if you are not a support lead, you can absolutely adjust those lessons to your own environment.

Beware! This book is not for the faint of heart. You’ll get more than 60 pages of knowledge, ideas and tools to successfully lead your remote team from wherever you are. Whether you are already a seasoned remote leader, or you are just starting out creating (or inheriting) your first location-independent team, this guide will help you to hit the ground running.

To get your own free copy, sign up for my (monthly) newsletter here. After confirming your subscription, I’ll send you the download link for the pdf and the epub version of this book. That way you can read it – remotely. 

If you have questions or comments about the book, if you’d like to add recommendations to the Remote Leadership Resources page, use the hashtag #remoteleadership and tag me on twitter @valedeoro. Feel free to share this guide with your network. A sustainable remote work culture depends on the quality of its leaders! 

I am also available for interviews, podcasts presentations or speaking engagements around remote culture and leadership in location-independent settings – get in touch!

Table of Contents

  • Foreword
  • Remote work in customer support
    • The nature of customer support
    • What is remote work?
    • The reason why remote work won’t work for your company
    • The future is remote
  • A team that (almost) never meets
    • Plan your remote team as a feature, not a bug
    • The blueprint: planning a team in advance
      • Team size
      • Time zones
      • Work hours and schedule
      • Work days and holiday
      • Benefits
      • Immediate and future requirements
      • What to look for when hiring for a remote position
  • Knowledge transfer: onboarding and training
    • Onboarding
    • Remote training
      • Product/company knowledge
      • Communication standards
      • Social support network
    • Ongoing training
  • Building and creating the team
    • Team building
      • Do we really need a team meeting?
    • Team maintenance
    • Change management
      • Team changes
  • Lead – team member relationship
    • The art of creating long-distance relationships
    • Should you have regular 1:1s
    • Coping with intercultural differences (a.k.a your prejudices)
    • Coaching your support agents
      • So, what does a career in support look like for individual contributors?
      • Seriously, IS there a career to be made in support?
    • Managing remote performance
      • A word on quality assurance
    • Lead solidarity, frontline support and alternatives
  • Information management
    • Communication beyond your direct reports
    • Bottom-up communication: being the link from the frontline to management
      • Direct input from your team
      • Interaction reviews
      • Cross team work groups
    • Top-down communication: from management to individual contributors
      • Representing support
      • Working with the product team
      • Helping marketing/sales with knowledge about existing customers
      • Strategic support feedback for leadership
  • Tools
    • Team building – in real life and remotely
      • IRL activity: the one question
      • IRL activity: headhunting your colleague
      • IRL activity: appreciation exercise
      • Remote activity: no-work meeting
      • Remote activity: Two truth and a lie
    • A note on communication tools
    • Performance management: trust but verify
      • 1:1 templates and processes
      • Blogs and websites with more insights
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