From core hours to Slack etiquette, setting teams up to work remotely for the long term is both cultural and technological. Just like a great organization takes time to think about how their culture impacts and is impacted by the people and the physical spaces they inhabit, a great organization will ensure this applies to the virtual workspace. A good remote work strategy is inclusive, asynchronous and technology-aided — not technology-driven. Every decision a company makes regarding remote work should be mapped to these three tenets.
Does this plan work for the majority of teams and workers? Are the operations set up to capture the needs of diverse groups? The benefits of remote work, like giving speaking opportunities in a meeting based on virtual hand-raising rather than interrupting with the loudest voice, can’t be captured if companies aren’t choosing technology to enhance the remote work citation. This culture of inclusive remote work starts at the top and should be built into all subsequent implementations.
With people taking advantage of working from home to map their days against their energy or personal needs, companies need to be set up to communicate and collaborate asynchronously. Some of this is technological, but mostly it comes down to a commitment to knowledge transparency. From a clear set of goals originating at the C-Suite and cascading down, to public project plans with clear ownership, knowledge distribution is the key to working together while working apart.
The examples above are all built on tools, like Miro for creative brainstorming or Keynote for storytelling. But the tools do not drive this cultural shift; they merely enable it. Before implementing tools, management should understand what behaviors the tools need to drive, then ensure everyone is equipped with the necessary tools. As an example: we’ve all gotten very comfortable with Zoom and forgotten our old friend, the phone. Broadband isn’t perfect everywhere, and body language is pretty muted in a video conference. But humans are adept at reading nuance in each other’s voices. Videoconference’s dominance is an example of technology driving the movement and possibly not aiding it.
Managers who are able to think through what their team really needs and why will be able to implement their managerial skills effectively in a remote-first environment. Leading virtually can be dehumanizing, but it also opens up managers’ eyes to new ways to use technology and diverse perspectives to drive the company’s mission forward. Leaders who can embrace this change will win in today’s world.
This article was written by a Fairygodboss Contributor.
McKenna is a remote and hybrid management author and coach, having spent years working in global organizations, managing remote teams around the world. Her passion is helping people harness empathy to better connect with their colleagues to drive success, making their management skills as effective in person as from 6,000 miles away. Follow her on LinkedIn for more actionable ways to succeed in remote-first work culture.
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