Setting up Your Distributed (Global) Community Team for Success! | Jennifer Sable Lopez

Managing a community is a 24/7 job. To ensure success, and to keep things running smoothly (and allow you to sleep), you may need to hire or work with teammates in various timezones, on other sides of the world, and from different cultures. Learn the dos and don’ts of working in a global, distributed group, while still feeling like you’re part of the same team, with the same goals and voice to the community.

Jen Sable Lopez lives and breathes community. When she’s not tweeting about Lin-Manuel Miranda, she’s weaving Grumpy Cat (RIP) into presentations, or misusing a comma. Jen has a unique background that took her from web development to SEO to community management and leading teams. In her current role as Director of Community at OutSystems, she combines all her past passions into one exciting role.

Watch Jen’s Talk Here!

You can find all the CMX Summit 2019 talks here, and get ready to CMX & Chill.

This post is a high level outline created by the CMX Community in the CMX Summit 2019 Collaborative Notes

Highlights and Notes: – a world chat clock that humanizes and connects people across the world so you actually see where and who people are, not just what the numbers are.

The easiest way to cater to remote teams is to pretend that EVERYONE  is remote:

  1. Have an agenda
  2. Take notes
  3. Run a few meetings throughout the day that are smaller and more intimate
  4. Record meetings whenever possible.
  5. Provide asynchronous communication pathways and make sure the meetings are available on those platforms. [Side note: read virtual teams that work for free because open source academics is just cool!]
  6. Use high-context mediums for high context content
    1. Use a video to provide really important information and complicated stuff
    2. Don’t write complicated things in an email
    3. Always think about indexing the content in the best way to read it rather than the easiest way to write it.

Setting up Your Distributed (Global) Community Team for Success! | Jennifer Sable Lopez


To be clear this is a very very rare issue and it’s likely that if you feel you are and think you should stop, it’s because you’re making assumptions and gatekeeping that information as a result.

Follow the sun strategy: Pass tasks and requirements along with the sun to train people round the clock or work on a project over that time.

  • Train people in order of the sun and expect they will train too.

Tips for keeping the team together:

  1. Say hello and provide information about your day every morning that isn’t connected to work so that people can see where your life is.  Encourage them to do the same thing.
  2. “Good morning, this is the view from my apartment. What about you?”
  3. Provide accountability with people at the beginning of the day
  4. Have a chat where people have 100% freedom to do whatever even if unrelated.
    1. Microsoft teams, slack, or whatever.
    2. Play games that don’t require time sensitive stuff.
  5. Whatever you do just make it personal.  Show your face, and create a “water cooler” for people to truly gather around.

Setting up Your Distributed (Global) Community Team for Success! | Jennifer Sable Lopez

Extra tips and tricks

Kudo board: a great way to provide support, kudos, and other team empowerment.

Be very clear about working hours and time availability for everyone all over.  Systems have been built in to this to ensure that they work. There are APIs like Gmail and clockwise

Understanding when you should be disconnected and when you should be working goes a long way to setting boundaries everyone understands which creates cultural mores and norms that people ACTUALLY follow.  Gmail has integrated these features to schedule things but you may want to use something like boomerang.

Ask people to define their roles, what do they want, what are they willing to take on, to what end will this role help them in the project, and how can they be the CEO of that task? Then ensure everyone knows that and empower them to do it.

  1. The local go-to resource
  2. The team coordinator

It helps to understand people’s strengths on the team. A fun way to do it is through the strengthsfinder test and the high-five test.

Other tools that are handy and useful:

  • Grammarly
    Figma – feel like a designer without designing anything
    Toggl – figure out what information you need (use it with rescuetime)
    Rescuetime – set and forget feature that tracks people’s time.

Jen made her slides available to the public! You can find them here.

*This post was authored by the CMX Community in the CMX Summit 2019 Collaborative Notes

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Beth McIntyre
Community & Events Marketing Manager at Bevy! Passionate about building our in-person community and connecting with members. When I’m not writing on the Bevy Blog, I’m writing about my global travels!