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What are your best practices for rolling out remote work options?

Remote work is a growing phenomenon—and it will only continue to grow. But with remote work comes new challenges, like motivating employee at a distance, communicating asynchronously, and hiring people you may have never met in person. What's been helpful, in your experience, to address these issues?

Comments

  • @Maribel Olvera @Sharon DiOrio You both would have great insights on this!

  • I worked almost fully remote for 7 years, and now I am working partially remote. A lot of companies approach remote work as "accommodating" remote workers instead of realizing that there are clear business benefits to remote culture:

    • Improved recruiting and retention of under-represented groups 
    • Supporting working parents with flexible schedules 
    • Enabling people with mobility and other disabilities to join the workforce
    • More scalable communication practices across physical office locations  
    • Information captured online is the start of documentation (Some meetings can be replaced entirely with shared documents, and Slack is my personal database of conversations!)
    • Asynchronous information sharing/gathering is more respectful of others’ workflows
    • And, in TO language: introverts can manage their energy better, improving performance

    As far as motivating employees, it still comes down to regular contact, even if that contact is via a messaging medium instead of in person. Fortunately, I can verify that 1:1s work just as well over Zoom or another web conferencing application as they do in person. Clear expectations might even become more clear if managers are forced to write them out for a remote person. Remote hiring, similarly, can make use of web conferencing for interviews, or just bringing candidates in office for a day.

    The really tricky one is how to make remote workers feel like they're still part of a team. At my current job, we make efforts to make all-company meetings available to remote workers via technology and awareness, such as monitoring chats, and having Owl cameras that can capture audience images as well as speakers. We also had a training where our PeopleOps carried around a phone with one of our remote workers FaceTimed into breakouts. For team-building and culture, at my last job we implemented "wind-down Fridays", where, at 4pm on Friday (the least productive hour of the week anyway), we all logged into a shared web conference to just hang out, just like we'd do at the office. Some people procured a beverage, and we all just chatted about the week, or weekend plans, or what have you. There was deliberately no agenda. This worked with a small enough team, but might be harder to coordinate with a large group.

    Lastly, there is no substitute for bringing remote workers into the office on occasion, and carving out some of that time for team-bonding instead of making "efficient use" of the time with back-to-back meetings. High-functioning teams have a high degree of trust with one another that can only be built with frequent interactions and just spending time getting to know one another as people.

  • When rolling it out, I also think there is sometimes a burn in period when an employee first starts working remotely, especially if it's not the norm at a company. When I can, I usually see if someone will start working remotely just one or two days per week (for me, I prefer this not to be on a Friday or Monday). As Sharon noted, check-ins are important, so I make sure to chat with them at least once a day, even if it's just to say hi. Accountability is important too, and I think when people are remote, they have a responsibility to show what they have accomplished. When employees start working remotely, clarity about all of this is important, and I think it is good to come to agreement on expectations early on. For example, what hours should the employee be on line? What is the expected response time if you contact the employee? How will the employee track their work? What happens if there is a critical need to be onsite for a time when the employee is supposed to be working remotely? Different companies or managers will have different expectations for these areas.

  • Predictive Index tools couldn’t be more appropriate for hiring, communicating, and motivating remote workers. Regardless of video conferencing, an additional level of complexity seems to occur when you can’t normally see someone’s facial expressions and body language during the workday. Having the insight as to how your team or individuals are wired has a tremendous upside since the one-size-fits-all approach to managing and communicating with remote workers and remote teams can never work, not even with similarly minded sales teams. Understanding who responds best to gamification and those who are driven by other learning styles is crucial to the development of a remote team of people. Knowing who engages with reading and those who prefer seeing vs. those who respond best to listening can help the manager or owner achieve their goals.

    Sending regular care packages along with scheduled calls, as well as ad-hoc calls, is key to successful communication, inclusion, and connection with a remote team. 

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