I am a huge fan of GitLab - both the product and the company. As the largest all remote workforce, they are in an enviable position of being an expert on how to manage a team of over 1000 global employees without having an office. My current position puts me in charge of managing a global, remote, workforce as well but on a smaller scale.
When GitLab announced they were releasing a course on How to Manage a Remote Team on Coursera, I jobbed at the opportunity to take it. I want to expand my skill set as a manager of remote employees and the chance to learn some best practices from GitLab in this area was a good place to start.
The course is split up in to a four week set of lessons and covers about 11-12 hours of material.
- Week 1 covers Remote Best Practices.
- Week 2 covers Managing Remote Teams.
- Week 3 covers Remote Adaption Processes for Organizations
- Week 4 covers Culture and Values for Distributed Teams
The final task then is building a remote transition plan for an organization.
Overall, these were well done. The videos are presented by various GitLab employees and cover a variety of different aspects in each section. There are various readings assigned too. These provide a ton of information, especially The Remote Playbook.
There is some GitLab centric information provided and back patting, but it is done in a way that helps to show why certain things are needed - like open and transparent documentation. By the end of the course, you will know that GitLab has an open handbook for everyone to read and you will know why you should as well. This type of thing is expected and knowing that the instructors will do some back patting is important too.
The final project - building a remote transition plan - is peer reviewed. You are presented with a series of questions, which you answer with a short essay for each and using information presented during the course. When you are done, the last task you have is to peer review three of your cohort's projects.
This course was information dense and useful. The time estimate is off as the videos take only about an hour each week. Either I am a faster reader than I thought or they have overestimated the time it would take to read the weekly material. In either case, I estimate that I spent about 6 hours. It was also nice that, although the course is split into weeks, everything is available immediately upon completing the previous tasks.
I recommend this course to anyone who manages a team remotely or who is in the process of transitioning to remote work. COVID has given the entire world a crash course in remote work, but this course is a good way to handle and manage those newly remote workers effectively. It is also a good course to take if your company is planning on extending the work remote environment that 2020 has thrust upon you to last beyond this current pandemic.
GitLab has done a good job with this course.