Back in March 2020, I saw many organizations struggle with the sudden office closures because they had no plan in place for sustained work from home on this massive scale. Simple technology challenges like not having laptops for everyone to take home caused backlogs and delays across all kinds of industries. This was, of course, in addition to an unexpected personal burden that would last months, not weeks. Many people had to start balancing homeschooling or childcare closures with video calls, or taking time to care for loved ones who needed extra assistance. As the pandemic and closures dragged on, Forbes reported that employee satisfaction dropped 20%, job motivation dropped 25%, and more than 30% of employees felt their company wasn’t handling the pandemic situation well. The demands of the 9 to 5 increased tenfold, and it became clear that our work quality and job satisfaction would suffer greatly if things didn’t adapt quickly.
We’ve all learned a lot about remote work in this past year. Now you have an eye on the future. It’s time to take that next step towards cultivating a successful and connected remote or hybrid work environment. Over a series of three blog posts, I’ll be sharing some of my best practices from 10+ years as a manager and remote team leader. This series will help you understand how to pivot your traditional office based practices and work styles towards a remote office with thriving culture and happy employees. I'll update this document with links as my series unfolds. Consider this post your homebase for kicking your remote work culture into high gear!
With this dramatic transformation in workplace culture, there’s a whole new set of jargon to distinguish the variations in working environments. You may be familiar with phrases like remote-first, remote work, work from home (WFH), telework, and collocated, among others. I use the phrase remote work to broadly refer to a disparate group of people collaborating over the internet, regardless of their physical surroundings. But if you have a hybrid/collocated team, the same principles will apply to how your policies and procedures should be adapted.
I do urge you to think about the semantics of these options as you craft your own policies and communications with employees. Clearly, it’s important to perfect your structures and systems to support remote culture. But words matter too. Documentation and definition are just as important, because they prioritize clarity. This new level of transparency is the first step in building the right culture for your organization.
In this series, I’ll be covering four key areas to maximise your remote work success and productivity.
Hiring and Onboarding
Before you can craft a thriving remote culture, you have to start with getting the right talent through the door. When you’re ready to hire for your team, think to yourself, “how different does a remote job description need to look from something I posted a year ago?”
Even though remote employees can work from anywhere, do you really want them to be everywhere? And once you have the right person for the job, how do you integrate them into your existing team with video calls and documentation? But most importantly, how do you quickly build relationships and break down communication barriers that exist in a virtual world?
Benefits for Remote and Hybrid Teams
Are your existing benefits and policies ready to travel across new state lines? What are the legal and financial considerations for having a remote team? And on a smaller scale, how do you adapt your in office benefits (like free coffee, an on site gym, etc.) to boost morale across the new remote branch of your organization?
Adapting your Management Style
What can you do on a personal level, on a day to day basis, to build stronger remote teams within your organization? The three pillars I stand by are trust, open communication, and fairness. In a subsequent blog post, I’ll expand on all three of those concepts as it applies to managing a remote or hybrid team.
Maximizing Remote Happiness
The final concept my series addresses is maximizing remote work happiness, both for yourself and your team. Your job as a manager and as a leader is to support everyone in developing and staying true to their own needs while working on a remote team. Communication is key, because as a manager and as a leader, we can’t help what we can’t see.
If you’re following my series, I’ll be sharing this content via video snippets, blog posts, and a slide deck full of helpful visuals, which you can access here. I'll continue to add links to these pieces as we publish them. See below for the full list!
Full Slide Deck
Hum's Approach to Remote First Culture
COVID-19's Impact on Remote Work... And Where to Go From Here
"Remote" vs. "Hybrid" vs. "Collocated" Explained
Best Practices for Hiring & Onboarding
You can also access all this content in one 40 minute sitting, as I recently presented on these topics for AssociationTrends. Click here to access the full webinar via AssociationTrends On Demand portal.
And for more great content on digital best practices for associations, be sure to check out our blog and subscribe to our email list.