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Intercom's Strategies to Support Remote Work

By Kaitlin Pettersen, Global Director of Customer Support at Intercom

Double down on teamwork best practices

If your team isn’t used to working in different locations, here are three things that have been indispensable to our team operations. They’re not unique to remote work but they are especially useful for distributed teams.

A smart meeting strategy

When you don’t have the luxury of face to face interactions, meetings become a crucial tool for information sharing and discussion. But have too many meetings and you waste people’s time. We’ve found these three meetings are what we need to stay aligned – efficiently.

Actively used team values

Many teams espouse values, but I’d argue few actively apply them to daily work.

“A customer experience that isn’t anchored on a single set of values will quickly start to feel fragmented”

As we prepare our team for the possibility of remote work, we’ll be leaning on their ability to apply shared values.

Tools for collaboration and knowledge sharing

The bigger the team, the more you’ll need sturdy communication tools in your support tech stack that help you easily share information no matter where team members are located.

Like many other teams, Slack, Zapier, and a knowledge management tool (Guru in our case) are also staples in our toolkit. Here are some tips on using them to manage the team remotely.

  • Slack: Set up a #cs-important channel where you post handover updates as one support shift ends and another begins.

  • Zapier: Use Zapier or other workflow automation tools to push relevant comments from your support conversations to a Slack channel so that others internally can readily see customer feedback.

  • Guru: If your support inbox integrates with other apps, build an app that lets your team easily search your knowledge base as they support customers.

Create a sense of normalcy and fun

Beyond equipping our team with the right tools, keeping up team morale has been top of mind for me in our planning. After all, a highly engaged and happy support team is at the root of great support experiences. So my team leaders and I have been discussing two questions in particular.

What habits would we maintain to help the team stay connected?

If your team is used to mid-day tunes in the office to boost energy, try sharing Spotify team playlists. Set up a Google Hangouts meeting room that folks can dial into if they simply need some human interaction. Just like you would at the office, remind people to take a break.

What new rituals would we adopt to build team cohesion – virtually?

Each team is different, so what works for us may not work for you, but here are some things that we would consider:

  • Morning surveys through Slack, mid-day photo shares, end of day highlight threads

  • Team challenges – for example, remote power hours or gif competitions. Of course, keep them professional, but these kinds of challenges can be great for both team camaraderie and delighting customers.

  • Frequent postings of our metrics dashboard on Slack to replicate our real-time metrics monitor at the office

Above all, recognize that a successful transition to fully remote work can take time. Set clear expectations up front as to what success looks like and maintain a culture of trust and accountability – both of which are key to a highly productive and energetic remote team.

Check out Kaitlin's full blog post here.