Best practices for remote work
Increasingly as companies become more global and our work becomes more complex we are working, ideating and creating with teams all over the world and it can be very difficult to be successful using old approaches in this new way of working. In this episode, we will look at the most common problems with remote work, the most common misperceptions, and the different mindset, tools, and behaviors you will need to be successful.
As creatives technology has effected a lot of things about the way we work. But interestingly it has only effected that work when we are all in the same office for most people. But increasingly we are having to work with people in other locations either because our companies are getting more global or because remote work is starting to become much more common. As a result I have been getting a lot of questions about what are the best practices for working with or leading distributed teams or working with teams in multiple locations.
Over the course of my career I ‘ve had a lot of experience with this problem. And I thought I had a pretty good idea of how to do this – and then I started work for InVision and all that went out the window. InVision is a completely distributed company which means all 600+ are remote working from home or out of a WeWork. This let me see remote work and working with remote teams in a completely new and far more effective way. So in this episode we are going to look at the most common problems with remote work, the most common misperceptions, and the different mindset, tools, and behaviors you will need to be successful.
Having worked with teams in multiple locations and done remote work there are a few of common problems you are going to run into.
- Executing ideas works but creativity and collaboration doesn’t.
- There isn’t enough communication between the locations, teams and/or people.
- You have improvised collaboration tools or methods
- Leadership thinks if you are at work then you are working but if you can’t see me then I must be doing nothing
On the flip side there are also some misconceptions about working with remote teams and remote work.
- Great work can only be done in person at the same location
- You can’t get a hold of people when you need them for something
- People are only working if you can see them.
While there are problem and misperceptions there are some things that should stay the same
- Have clear leadership and responsibilities
- Focus on culture
- Responsibility and accountability
- Clear process
To work with remote team effectively you can’t just use the same old thinking but have people working in other locations or in a distributed model and think it is going to work. You need to change your leadership style, team approach, work mentality, hiring persona and more.
Your leadership style needs to evolve to:
- Make time to build relationships
- Empower vulnerability – people can suffer in silence
But the biggest thing you need to be successful is a whole new set of tools. This new set of tools is possible because of technology. The tools need to be cloud-based and collaborative for every stage for every stage of your workflow. This means you are going to have to get over your old way of working where all the files are on your computer and you where you want to control them.
Some of the tools I recommend are:
- Remote – Office not required by Jason Fried the founder of 37 Signals (buy here)
- Google docs, Dropbox Paper or similar cloud document suite.
- Zoom, FaceTime or similar video conferencing platform. (more info)
- Freehand as an online whiteboard. (more info)
- Boards as a place to start as a mood board that can evolve into a living document. (more info)
- Milanote as digital sticky notes. (more info)
This new leadership style and new tools need to culminate in new some new behaviors for everyone.
- Patience – people aren’t going to be available the second you need them’
- Way less email – more face to face video calls
- Core working hours for all time zones
- Be sure to stop working
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