Home Blog Team Management How Managerless Operation and Trust in Team Members Help BrandPacks Boost Productivity of Their Globally Dispersed Team

How Managerless Operation and Trust in Team Members Help BrandPacks Boost Productivity of Their Globally Dispersed Team

Author Juliya Mankovskaya
Posted Jul 25, 2018
Team Management

BrandPacks is an innovative company that produces readymade design templates for Photoshop & Illustrator. Their templates help thousands of freelance designers all over the world complete client work more efficiently and stick to higher standards.


adam brandpacks

We have had an interesting conversation with Adam McIntyre, the Co-Founder and Community Manager at BrandPacks. We asked him to explain how he managed to build engagement to common goals among his remote distributed team members. Along with his tips, he revealed how to build trust and keep remote employees happy in a stressful environment. 

Q: Could you please tell us more about BrandPacks? How did the idea of starting the company come to your mind?

Adam: BrandPacks is home to hundreds of readymade templates for graphic designers. Our templates help thousands of designers worldwide to complete client work more efficiently and stick to higher standards. Being overwhelmed with freelance client work, my business partner and I came up with the idea of BrandPacks(we’re both graphic designers). We both needed help getting client work done but we found there was a lack of professional-grade templates available online, especially for Adobe Illustrator. So, we decided to try our hand at creating our own. The rest, as they say, is the history. 

Q: Your team is scattered across Australia, Thailand, England, and America. How do you manage to unite them regardless of such a long distance and time difference?

Adam: Isolation and loneliness can be a real problem for remote teams like ours, especially as freelance designers often fall into introverted personality types. We try to combat this by communicating as frequently as possible through both instant messaging and Skype group calls. Luckily we have a very relaxed schedule, so working hours of our team members often overlap at some point during the week.

We communicate mostly via Slack–a popular team chat app. Slack is a great tool for remote teams as it can be customized to suit each individual business with smart reminders, follow-ups, app notifications, and more.

To help facilitate chat, we connect Slack to Zapier and, throughout the week, Zapier posts questions and business-related notifications to keep everyone in the loop. We also use Zapier to schedule several weekly questions which we ask all team members for updates and reports. It’s a small hack but it helps to keep everyone involved in the conversation.

Isolation and loneliness can be a real problem for remote teams....try to combat this by communicating as frequently as possible.

brandpacks-remote-development-team-thailand

Q: As a Community Manager at BrandPacks, you are also responsible for keeping the team happy. Could you share the top three techniques?

Adam: I’d say our most effective techniques are relaxed working conditions, transparency, and real-world meetups.

  • Relaxed Working Conditions

Each of us works remotely in different time-zones which means setting fixed working hours won’t bring any real benefits to our business. Instead, we allow all of our staff members to choose hours which are suitable for them to produce work on time.

Relaxed working conditions, transparency and real-world meetups keep the team happy.

  • Transparency

Each team member is kept informed with all goings-on within our business. From revenue details and support tickets closed to the number of projects completed by individual team members–everyone can see everything.

To manage this, again we rely on Zapier to post updates in our Slack chat. Every time a sale is made, a new DropBox file is added or a project is completed–we get a notification on our newsfeed channel. One of the particular benefits of this is that it shows who is working and what they’re working on. It also allows the team members to know they’re not the only one working and motivates them to do their bit.

  • Real-World Meetups

For small and profitable startups like ours, regularly meeting up somewhere in the world goes a long way in strengthening the team’s bond. It’s also a great way to reward staff for their hard work. Who wouldn’t love their job taking them somewhere like Koh Samui for a week?!

brandpacks-remote-development-team-samui

Q: Are team leads involved in building team spirit and motivation? How much?

Adam: No, we don’t utilize any internal team leads or managers. Personally, I’m not a fan of managers, and as we’re such a small and Agile team, we don’t need a hierarchy here.

Overall our connectedness and transparency as a team keep team morale and motivation flowing effortlessly.

Overall our connectedness and transparency as a team keep team morale and motivation flowing effortlessly.

Rather than requiring managers, our relaxed approach to work and inherent trust in our people to do their job gives each team member the authority to manage their own part of the business.

This approach may not work for all businesses, but it certainly helps ours run like a well-oiled machine.

Rather than requiring managers, our relaxed approach to work and inherent trust in our people to do their job gives each team member the authority to manage their own part of the business.

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Q: You mentioned that you have strict deadlines when releasing a new product. How do you succeed in keeping the team comfortable in stressful situations?

Adam: BrandPacks functions as a membership website. Graphic designers join our membership and get unlimited access to all our templates.

As part of this membership, we continually add value to our product–we release new template designs each and every week. This deadline is set in stone as our members expect to see new designs every Monday morning.

To keep the team comfortable with hitting this deadline, we try to stay a few weeks ahead of production. We use a visual to-do list and project management software Trello to keep everyone in the loop of who is doing what and which tasks are overdue.

To keep the team comfortable with hitting this deadline, we try to stay a few weeks ahead of production.

Should anything get in the way–site downtime or national holidays–we have a buffer to fall back on, but in most cases, our managerless operation and trust in team members keeps everyone on top of their own tasks. After all, nobody wants to let the team down.

Our managerless operation and trust in team members keeps everyone on top of their own tasks.

 brandpacks-remote-development-team

Q: What tools do you use to discuss work and daily life questions?        

Adam: Slack, Slack, and Slack. As a distributed team, it’s not always convenient to call via Skype. Instant messaging means a message can be replied to when a team member comes online. Furthermore, work-based chat rooms like Slack avoid the usual distractions of Facebook and Skype.

I honestly don’t know how any remote team functions without this tool.

Q: How have you managed to create an environment where all the team activity is seen by everyone? What tools do you use? How much does it motivate your designers?

Adam: Seeing what others are working on and how frequently they’re pushing updates is an effective way to keep remote teams motivated.

In a regular office environment, you can peer over your desk and see what teammates are working on ,but online you can quickly feel like you’re the only one there.

Seeing what others are working on and how frequently they’re pushing updates is an effective way to keep remote teams motivated.

It’s a small hack, but it really helps to realize you’re not the only one working. Even when you haven’t spoken to other team members for a couple days.

how-manage-distributed-development-team-brandpacks

Q: Describe the way you use Zapier while communicating with your remote employees? How often do you use it? How does it help you unite your remote teams?

Adam: Zapier connects hundreds of third-party applications to one another enabling you to create your own apps and workflows without programming.

We use Zapier to post real-time notifications of business activities to our team chat channels in Slack. We also use Zapier to send individual team members notifications of activity that relates directly to them.

A few examples of notifications in our Slack channel:

  • Sales notifications and reports–keeps everyone up-to-date with business growth
  • New Files and Folders Added to DropBox–notifies individual team members when files are ready for them to work with
  • Completed Trello Cards–shows team progress on projects
  • Support Ticket Notifications–when a new support ticket is received the whole team is alerted enabling faster response times

Q: To sum up: What are the top three vital tips to retain the engagement to common goals among globally dispersed teams?

Trust in your staff, transparency, and frequent communication.

Transparency further helps to empower the staff and make them feel as a part of the team.

Managers in brick and mortar business can keep an eye on their staff. But when your staff members work from their own home offices, it’s difficult to always know what they’re doing. For this reason, I think it’s better to throw caution to the wind and thoroughly trust your staff to manage their own work. Most people don’t need managing.

I’ve been bitten by this approach in the past, and overall it has been a resounding success. The staff feel empowered, independent, and more than anything they want to do their part for the team.

As for frequent communication, this one is obvious but easy to forget. No matter how large or small your team may be, regular communication is a key to success.

Transparency further helps to empower the staff and make them feel as a part of the team. When a team member can see how much the business is making and how much work is being completed, there’s no feeling of “us and them” between employees and management.

As for frequent communication, this one is obvious but easy to forget. No matter how large or small your team may be, regular communication is a key to success.

Key Takeaways:

  • Allow all of the staff members to choose hours that are suitable for them.
  • Create the environment where each team member is able to keep informed with all goings-on within the business.
  • Give each team member the authority to manage their own part of the business.
  • To keep the team comfortable with hitting deadlines, try to stay a few weeks ahead of production.
  • Use Zapier to post real-time notifications of every business activity, send individual team members notifications, and schedule weekly questions.
  • Trust your team.
  • No matter how large or small your team may be, regular communication is a key to success.
  • Use a visual to-do list and project management software, like Trello, to keep everyone in the loop of who is doing what and which tasks are overdue.
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Juliya Mankovskaya

Juliya Mankovskaya is an avid Outreach Specialist at Daxx. She is passionate about Digital Marketing, IT and modern technologies. Julia is responsible for Daxx social media promotion and external publications.

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