Episode 23: Sarah McIlwain - Small Talk Builds Big Bridges With Your Remote Team
Play • 37 min
Sarah McIlwain is the Director of Product Design at Abstract, a design collaboration tool that has a 100% distributed team. Sarah shares her insights on how a leader can build trust and connection through a digital work model and how to minimize useless meetings, and she outlines her documentation process that helps get everyone on the team seen and heard.
Key Takeaways
Sarah recently took on a new role at Abstract, which has a 100% distributed team. How’s it going so far?
The biggest obstacle you have to overcome, and this applies to both remote and physical models, is team culture and trust.
Sarah uses her one-on-one meetings to build trust and connection. Many people often hate it, but small talk goes a long way in doing that.
It’s difficult to be angry with someone with whom you are breaking bread.
How does Sarah manage meetings?
How much of Zoom fatigue is due to just people attending useless meetings?
Digital face-to-face meetings are so precious, so use as many tools as possible to get the “useless” meetings off of your team’s plate.
Trip shares how he turns what was discussed in meetings into applicable action steps.
A lot of meeting tools have built-in features (like transcription services) that can save an assistant’s time.
It’s time to reexamine your company’s processes and tools and see if they’re still serving you.
In a remote model, you have to get good at documenting.
You have to be really, really intentional with connecting with your team in a remote environment. We are wired to do this in person. Lack of trust means less innovation within your organization.
Doing a hybrid model can be unfair to your remote team because they get left out in the day-to-day details. Sarah shares how Abstract was able to create equality no matter where their team was.
How does Sarah take her documentation notes and turn them into action plans for the team?
The future really is remote.
Sarah is hiring right now!
Thebraveworkforce.com (http://thebraveworkforce.com/)
Bravenewcompanies.com (http://bravenewcompanies.com/)
Email Anna: Anna@Thebraveworkforce.com (mailto:Anna@Thebraveworkforce.com)
Abstract.com (https://www.abstract.com/)
Sarah on Abstract (https://www.abstract.com/author/sarah-mcilwain)
Sarah on LinkedIn (https://www.linkedin.com/in/sarahmcilwain/) Special Guest: Sarah McIlwain.

This is a public episode. If you would like to discuss this with other subscribers or get access to bonus episodes, visit bravenewworkforce.substack.com
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