Effective Remote Work

I’m a believer in remote work as a great enabler of more opportunity and greater productivity.  I’ll save my pitch for why its a great option for a conversation over coffee or beer, but in this post I want to provide some of my top learnings from the time I have been working remote — primarily from home, sometimes from coffee shops, sometimes from a co-working space with a few other company employees.

Trust and Responsibility

Remote work requires people to be responsible and to trust each other.  I support having some type of accountability, but if your team members are self-motivated, self-managing people that want to do well over the long term then life is a lot easier for everyone involved.  So in short, be responsible. 

Some key ways I have found to keep me acting responsible while working from home:

  • Track time (or at least breaks) so you know you put enough time in
  • Ask family or roommates to pretend you are not there
  • Be aware of teammates typical schedules and time zones
  • Take some breaks to stay effective
  • Snooze communication at times to focus on work
  • Take advantage of schedule flexibility, but communicate

Communication

Communication is one of the biggest challenges in organizations.  When it takes a little more effort to start the conversation we can see huge issues.  The way to counteract that risk of working remote is to over-communicate.  It doesn’t hurt to repeat yourself a little and if you can engage in a conversation you can make sure your message has been received. 

Some key points on communication:

  • Over-communicate through multiple channels
  • Don’t hesitate to jump on a call (video or audio)
  • Don’t save conversations for “the next time you are onsite”
  • Mix in jokes and have side chats to recreate some of the comradery of being in office

Groups in office need to adapt

A key responsibility is on the team that is co-located in an office.  The biggest barrier I have faced in working remote is getting included in the important meetings and discussions…even if I am on the call I may not be allowed to participate enough to influence the decisions.  Many times I have been the one leading the meeting from the office so I know how hard it is to do well.  We all need to acknowledge that having a group in a room and others on the call is hard and easy to get wrong. 

So what do we do to make this better?  Glad you asked, here are my thoughts:

  • Call are smoothest when everyone is remote, so sometimes just call in from your desk
  • Everyone should mute when not talking (except in one on one settings)
  • Screen shares or slides should always be visible to remote people
  • Avoid using whiteboard or zoom camera in on drawings
  • Meeting rooms should have a point person to:
    • Mute and unmute
    • Monitor chat
    • Choose who will speak when multiple people start at the same time
    • Make sure audio and screen shares are working for remote
    • Ask remote members if they have inputs before moving on to next topic

Resources

Remotive.io

We Work Remotely

Product Hunt – Tools for Remote Teams

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