Sarah Milstein, VP of Engineering at ConvertKit

How to set up remote and hybrid teams for success

In this very first live episode of Lead Time Chats, Jean Hsu, Range’s VP of Engineering, chats with Sarah Milstein, VP of Engineering at ConvertKit, about how to set remote and hybrid teams up for success.

Sarah and Jean discuss:

  • The biggest challenges hybrid and remote teams face
  • Tactical tips for making hybrid meeting inclusive
  • The importance of exercising your team's experimentation muscle, as there's no one-size-fits-all answer for teamwork or meetings
  • The role of equity in forming team and company policies about who can work remotely

Takeaways from Sarah

Get clear on what your meetings are for

“Meetings do three things for us. They help us establish personal connections. They let us share info and they help us make decisions. And some meetings do all of those things. And some meetings do a combination or just one of them.

But when we are now being really intentional about how we're holding meetings and why and who's involved and what we're trying to do with them, being aware that we have a couple of different implicit goals is really important and can help us make really explicit decisions about how we want to work together and what we want to get out of them.

And I will note that for many people sharing information is something that you can do asynchronously sometimes even more effectively than you can in a meeting, but the personal connection and decisions are things that you probably want to optimize for in your meetings.”

Prioritize good audio for hybrid meetings

“I would strongly recommend that people think very hard about having very good audio in the rooms where there are people together. And instead of spending all of your time and energy trying to figure out like video setups where people who aren't in the room can see everybody, make sure you've got audio so they can hear everybody and then have everybody in the room on their laptop video.

So everyone who's not in the room can see the faces of all the people. You turn off the audio on your laptop. You've shared good audio in the room. And you may, if you're not in the room, not be able to see exactly who's sitting next to whom, but you'll be able to see everybody's faces, and they'll be able to see yours.

That combination of shared audio, individual video for even a fairly large number of people can make a hybrid meeting work extremely well and allows for the people who aren't in the room to participate quite fully.”

Take equity account when making remote work policies

“You want to make sure that remote work or in-person work is evenly accessible. Lots of companies want to let teams decide, let individual departments decide how who's going to be in the office when, and one of the risks that you run with that is a really uneven distribution that's socially inequitable. So for example, If you work in a company that decides by department and engineering decides people can work wherever they want whenever, and white men are overrepresented in engineering, and then you decide customer success has to be in the office almost all the time, and black women are overrepresented in customer success, you've created some inequity in accessibility of either office space or in this case, remote work.

Being really intentional as managers and leaders in thinking about how we ensure we don't have that kind of inequity, that's really important. And it's probably something to start talking about now, if you aren't already.”

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About Lead Time Chats

Listen in on unscripted conversations between Jean Hsu, VP of Engineering at Range and engineering leadership coach, and engineering leaders and other influential folks in tech.

Lead Time Chats is brought to you by Range. Range helps hybrid teams check-in asynchronously about what matters most. Know what's happening through status updates that pull from tools like Github and JIRA without scheduling yet another meeting.

Checking-in with Range creates more focus time for heads-down work, all while feeling a deeper sense of connection and belonging with your team. To learn more about Range, you can check it out here.

Season 2 Episodes

» Episode 1: Camille Fournier on making boring plans

» Episode 2: Tess Rinearson on early career engineering managers

» Episode 3: Kim Scott on building for systemic justice

» Episode 4: Sumeet Arora on moving on from a big company

» Episode 5: Rachael Stedman on IC manager work

» Episode 6: Chris Bee on Behaviors of Effective Eng Leaders

» Episode 7: Lynne Tye on the Engineering Hiring Landscape

» Episode 8: Beau Lebens on Distributed Team Meetups

» Episode 9: Indrajit Khare on Getting Acquired by Google

» Episode 10: Jack Danger on Technical Debt

Season 1 Episodes

» Episode 1: Will Larson on the path of the senior engineer

» Episode 2: Duretti Hirpa on mentoring junior and mid-level engineers

» Episode 3: Cate Huston on working with an external coach

» Episode 4: Juan Pablo Buriticá on common eng manager mistakes

» Episode 5: Gergely Orosz on the decision to go into management

» Episode 6: Lara Hogan on leading effectively in a pandemic

» Episode 7: Kaya Thomas on common early career engineer challenges

» Episode 8: Uma Chingunde on starting a VPE role in a pandemic

» Episode 9: Katie Wilde on supporting your team's mental health

» Episode 10: Akhil Gupta on navigating uncertainty in new roles

» Episode 11: Harper Reed on giving everyone a voice in team meetings

» Episode 12: Marc Hedlund on sponsorship

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Sarah Milstein on setting up remote and hybrid teams for success
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