Remote Work is the New Normal

Posted 2 weeks ago by Kolja Kristek

Remote work has been a practice for a long time and has been a proven work model. It is not a trend anymore and certainly not bound to companies in the technology industry. Businesses across all industries are discovering the benefit of remote working, especially with the amount of tools on the market to leverage the advantages of distributed work environments. Internet connectivity is now a commodity and access to collaborative platforms has never been easier.

There are, however, a few pitfalls to be aware of in changing from an office space to remote work. We at Crowd Favorite are a completely remote operating company and have been practicing this for over 10 years. Since our core belief is to always partner with our clients, rather than taking the role as a vendor, to deliver the best solution possible, we would like to share our best practises with you to overcome the hurdles of switching to remote work and to stay productive.

Remote Work: Setting Yourself Up for Success

Communication is defined by the company culture, the people and the channels available for them. The internet offers a lot of ways to communicate with each other: chat rooms, emails, video conferences, working on the same documents together, and more.

To find the right tools that work for you means that you need to know the different ways your team communicates and what can be incorporated in your workflows, as well as what can’t. Therefore, there is not “one” solution out there. You need to tailor them to fit your specific needs and circumstances.

The main differences in switching from working in a shared environment to working remotely are:

  • the lack of a common space
  • transitioning from a synchronous communication to an asynchronous one (for the majority of communication)
  • lack of visibility & transparency
  • change of 'ownership' feeling

So let’s dive into each of these and how to best approach them.

Lack of Common Space

Your team still needs to communicate with each other, so you need to provide a platform for them to exchange ideas, discuss project details or just simply to talk. While working in solitude can be freeing & very productive, it’s not sustainable in the long run and also working in silos increases the risk of creating duplicate work or working on something that is not aligned with the company / project goals.

For this reason we use Slack, as most digital agencies do. Slack allows our team to have one spot for all our communications. We have created many channels for our departments and projects, and using this tool allows us to stay connected, over several time zones!

The main pitfall here is that you need to be aware to use channels properly (teamsize) and to adjust notifications, so it doesn’t get too distracting. Otherwise you just created a virtual office break room. Have topic based rooms (sales, marketing, project1, project2, etc,) to limit the amount of noise and also ensure that everyone stays focused.

Pro-Tip

We have created many channels for our departments and projects, and using this tool allows us to stay connected, over several time zones! By creating a “fun” channel, we allow space for our team to interact and share non-work related conversations. This creates a sense of community and together that is extremely important in remote working environments.

Communication Style

Communication is important and should be clear. Be specific and get information across to the team ahead of time. This is something we can’t stress enough. Make sure that they start their day with a list of things to do on their plate. Also, schedule meetings or reserve time in the morning to ensure that the To-Do’s are understood and everyone is on the same page.

The majority of online communication is asynchronous, meaning that you won’t be able to ‘talk it through’ in most cases. So you have to ensure that you get your points across. Be specific, detail oriented, and ask for reassurance that the receiver of your message understands what needs to be done.

Pro-Tip

Create a communication plan for remote working, set expectations when the team is required to be available and what forms of you will be using. Having clear expectations around communication will limit the confusion and stress around working from home.

Lack of Visibility & Transparency

You will inevitably lose oversight of your team. There is nothing bad about this. Trust your team. Don’t panic that they won’t do the work, if you can’t see them. They are all grown ups.

The best way to handle the lack of oversight is by setting expectations. What do you want your team to achieve today? This week? This month even? Make sure that they have all they need to fulfill your expectations and offer time to clarify your goals along the way. The ‘how’ is up to each team member and you have to trust their judgement.

Tracking tasks vs tracking time can be a game changer in productivity when working from home.

Pro-Tip

Create a communication plan for remote working, set expectations when the team is required to be available and what forms of you will be using. Having clear expectations around communication will limit the confusion and stress around working from home.

Change of 'Ownership' Feeling

When you start working remotely, you don’t feel the immediate pressure of a workspace to get your work done. You are working from home and your brain needs to adjust to combine the comfort feeling of your home with the professional attitude you (hopefully) have at work. This is something to be aware of and allow yourself time to make the transition.

Working remotely means you are not working necessarily ‘on the business clock’, meaning the tasks will be more important than the time spent. This can be pretty new to both employer & employee, so make sure that the expectations are right & not arbitrary.

This is a time of transition, and as a leader or employee it is very important to build a sense of trust and understanding. While there will be struggles, this is a great opportunity to showcase flexibility, while relying on your company's culture and core values.

Pro-Tip

Rely on your core values and company culture, now is the time to improve communication, trust and sense of community within your company.

Remote Work in Action

These are challenging times right now and the main priority, especially for business owners, is to keep everyone safe. Hopefully we have shown you that to mitigate the impact of covid-19 to the business, working remotely might be a valuable option that will work for you and your team and how to overcome some of the hurdles to do so. And who knows, maybe this model will also work for you in the long term.

Communication is complex and there are multiple ways to communicate with one another. It is vital for every company and project to create an environment for information to flow easily between team members as it adds transparency, increases your success & strengthens the team.

We would love to discuss this topic with you in detail and help you set up your unique environment to build a strong digital company culture!