The hardest part of remote work - and how to tackle it - Part II

Resources Feb 14, 2020

Those of us who can address the inherent challenges of remote work can thrive despite them. By implementing some simple tactics, we can learn to be high-performers as well as satisfied employees in a remote setting.

To build on Part I, here are some tactics to address the challenges of remote work from the organizational level.  

How To Navigate the Challenges of Remote Work

Organizational Tactics for Remote Work

Communication

There are several ways to help employees navigate the communication challenges presented by remote workplaces:

  • Set rules around chat applications - So your messaging platforms don’t devolve into meaningless chatter and disconnected conversations, set rules for what kinds of conversations happen in different channels. Make sure there’s a channel for casual “office talk,” channels for different teams, and channels for cross-team collaboration. Encourage employees to communicate primarily through group channels instead of direct messages to improve transparency and to make sure everyone stays on the same page.
  • Use video chat as a default - If there is an in-depth conversation happening in your chat application, jump into a video meeting to talk instead. This will greatly improve your ability to collaborate and understand everyone’s perspective.
  • Keep the camera on during calls - By encouraging employees to keep their cameras on during meetings, we can help them capitalize on that 55% of non-verbal communication cues.  

Collaboration

Don’t just rely on chat applications. Schedule regular meetings for collaboration and planning to engage employees from the individual to the company level.

  • 1-on-1s - The best way to keep a pulse on employee satisfaction, individual goals, and challenges is to schedule regular 1-on-1s with each member of your team.
  • Daily Standups - By taking a short time to connect teams on a daily basis, you can stay ahead of potential blockers and stay up-to-date on what everyone is working on.
  • By Department - Department-wide meetings should happen at least bi-weekly. These are good settings for brainstorming, demonstrating progress, and planning future projects.
  • Company-Wide - To keep everyone connected to the big picture, there should be monthly or quarterly company-wide meetings. This is a good time to go over any big updates, accomplishments, and events along with reporting on goals and connecting across departments.

Culture

Building a healthy and productive remote workplace takes more than just setting up the right meetings and optimizing remote communication. Company culture plays a big role in supporting remote workers and in seeing results as an organization.

  • Emphasize transparency - Transparency doesn’t come naturally in a remote workplace, so building a transparent remote culture takes intention. Share as much information as possible in group settings and avoid too many one-on-one calls or threads so that teams don’t become disconnected or isolated from the rest of the group. Encourage each team to share updates in company-wide meetings and get feedback across multiple departments before starting big projects.
  • Practice gratitude by default - With the amount of direct messages remote workers respond to every day, it’s understandable if our messages become increasingly clipped and efficient. It is still important to use friendly language, however, and to never forget to appreciate our coworkers with a simple “thank you” when a task is complete.
  • Enable relationship building - Make sure to have a space for teams to have non-work related conversations in order to build more authentic relationships, strengthening our ability to collaborate with and trust our teammates. Some remote companies encourage this by picking a non-work topic to discuss on Fridays or asking a new teammate to share something about their personal interests every week. It is key to build a framework where people feel comfortable and compelled to share.
  • In-person meetups - At the end of the day, nothing beats an in-person meetup. If possible, add yearly (or quarterly!) in-person events to your company calendar to collaborate on big projects and participate in team building activities.

Though for most of us remote work is a far cry from our stock photo fantasy, we can take action to address its challenges and create a positive and productive experience. At the end of the day, remote work can be incredibly liberating, stimulating, and, ultimately, well worth the obstacles.