Remote Product Manager: how to thrive from home

Remote Product Manager: how to thrive from home

Product Managers are having a hard time shifting from an office experience to remote work. A PM’s job by nature is heavy on relationship management, which is really hard to scale through Zoom calls. Keeping the team on track, in sync and uncovering blockers is next level hard when working from your kitchen table. We’ve asked product managers at top tech companies to give advice on how to best handle the transition. Here's what they have to say:

1. Understand maker vs manager

As a product manager, we work with makers. These makers are often engineers, designers, marketers, researchers and scientists. They are often very busy in deep work and appreciate it when they don't have to context switch or handle interruptions. They often work best when they have several hours of uninterrupted time to focus.

When we need to communicate with makers, how we deliver a message or question is just as important as the message itself. When you are going to communicate with a maker on your team, ask yourself the following question:

"Do I need an immediate response?" If you do - by all means send that slack message or fire up a Zoom call. But if we can wait to hear back from a team member or don't even need a response, consider either sending an email or choosing another async channel for delivering your message.

2. Unlock the power of async video

Asynchronous is nothing new, we’ve been doing it for years with email. Async communication is important for product managers as we connect and communicate the most with makers on our teams. We have to utilize async channels to connect while being  considerate of makers’ time and focus. Here’s a couple of examples:

  • Relationship management - sending someone a quick async video has much more connection than an email or slack message, and let’s them watch it on their own time
  • Communicating product updates - your product has stakeholders across the company and even across timezones. Get into a cadence of showcasing the work that your team is delivering through easy to consume video / screen recordings.
  • Record slide presentations and get slide by slide feedback from stakeholders on their own time.
  • Build a culture of daily or weekly updates from the team. The worst blockers on your team are ones that you don’t know about.

    For more ideas on how to use async communication, check out our guide here.

3. Foster a culture of documentation

If you take the time to document ideas, conversations and decisions that you make as a team, the following occurs:

  • Teammates are more able to answer their own questions, reducing interruptions
  • Always available context of what the team is doing
  • Easier retrospectives and improved learning

Documentation is hard to do. Writing longer form content for your team to consume every day is actually quite scary for most product managers. If this resonates with you, you're in good company. Here at Supernormal, we use async videos with transcripts on our product team for about 80% of all our communication. Our makers look forward to zoom calls now and have shifted to answering their own questions on their own time. If you'd like to get started, come on over.