As a part of our series about the 5 Things You Need To Know To Successfully Manage a Remote Team, I had the pleasure of interviewing Ken Carnesi.
Ken Carnesi serves as Founder and CEO of DNSFilter, an internet security provider that uses machine learning to protect enterprise organizations and their users from online threats. His dissatisfaction with previously available internet security options for clients under his ISP, led him to recognize the need that then became DNSFilter. Today, DNSFilter provides security services for nearly 15,000 organizations, including several Fortune 500 enterprises, more than 3M end users, and operates the fastest and most extensive DNS content filtering network in the world.
Thank you so much for doing this with us! Before we dig in, our readers would love to get to know you a bit better. Some companies have many years of experience with managing a remote team. Others have just started this, due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Can you tell us how many years of experience you have managing remote teams?
Ifounded DNSFilter in 2015, and we’ve been remote from the start — that’s close to 7 years of managing a remote work culture. We were primarily remote before the pandemic, though we did have a strong sales presence in Colorado where we had a WeWork. But our sales team is now much bigger than four people in a WeWork — we have a large team spread across the US. And while we still have a WeWork location in D.C., we’ve laid a lot of groundwork for our employees to feel productive and connected when they join a fully remote company — sometimes for the first time ever.
Managing a team remotely can be very different than managing a team that is in front of you. Can you articulate for our readers what the five main challenges are regarding managing a remote team? Can you give a story or example for each?
Developing an inclusive environment is admittedly more difficult in a remote environment because you need to work harder to get to know your team and make sure they feel appreciated.
Another challenge is managing payroll for so many locations. There is a lot of paperwork to deal with whenever you hire someone or when an employee moves to another state. But for some companies this can be a big barrier when you’re just starting out.
Employees living in different time zones. When you’re fully remote and international, it can be difficult to coordinate meetings, releases, and figure out the best way to work with a coworker.
Burnout is very real in remote work culture. People fill that extra time they usually would be commuting with more work. And without a separate building for home and office, the lines can blur easily.
Productivity is something that I see a lot of organizational leaders bring up as a reason to avoid remote work. But we’ve found ways to ensure productivity while working remotely, and a lot of it is built on trust.