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 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