Managing Remote Teams at Velcro Companies

Julie Barry, Director of Global Brand for Velcro Companies, works mostly in a company office in New England but her team is spread across the globe. That means coordinating schedules across time zones and finding ways to bring people together through technology. She is set up to work from home on occasion and often travels abroad for meetings so she needs to be ready to work from any location.

What are the advantages of having a remote team?

  • One of the biggest advantages is the ability to respond to requests and inquiries in a timely fashion.  Because we are global we have all kinds of things coming in from all over the world and having someone in each major region allows us to act in real time.
  • Having global oversight with local execution insures that the strategy plays out well in each of the regions while being able to be close to the customer/consumer.  We call this Glocal.
  • Having a team in submersed in different cultures means that we can as a group understand a variety of different platforms.  Social media for example is completely different in China then it is in the US, AU, the UK or even Hong Kong.  Same goes for understanding all of the different Open Marketplaces.  When you have people from all of these places on your team, you increase the capabilities of the entire group by cross sharing of information.

What are the added challenges? 

  • Being able to find a common time for all to speak at the same time is very tough – typically we have calls with Europe and Asia separately but would be great to get everyone all at the same time which is next to impossible
  • Communications and relying on technology can be a challenge.  What you find is that email is a great way to share information but not a great way to speak to one another since you lose so many language nuances.

How do you stay in touch and keep everyone moving in the right direction?

  • I have weekly and biweekly meetings with each region and we send weekly summaries on Fridays of what we’ve been working on.
  • If there are common projects that we are working on across regions we communicate more frequently.
  • We use IM quite a bit for real time information.  It is super helpful to get quick answers.

What is your advice to someone who plans to start a remote team?

  • Please make sure that you have the technology in place to be able to IM, Skype, Facetime or whatever because that is the most critical part – being able to communicate in a way that is outside of email.