There’s no doubt that remote work is trending. But this year, a combination of factors is speeding things up:
- Coronavirus is forcing companies to make the move more quickly than planned
- Businesses are prioritising it to reduce their environmental footprint, especially if they’re going carbon neutral
- The potential productivity benefits can’t be ignored. Reduced office distractions = a big win. One HBS study showed a 4.4% increase in productivity for companies with “work from everywhere” polices.
- The technology is mature.
- People want this kind of flexibility. This means it’s still a key point of difference to attract great people and a wider talent pool. At Beam, our remote roles are incredibly popular and fill quickly.
BUT if you’re running a company or managing a team, how do you do it well? Whether by circumstance or design, how can your business nail remote working?
Here’s what we’ve learned at Beam where 100% of our team works remotely and our org design experts are creating solutions for companies to make the move.
1. Be intentional
Whether some team members work from home once a week or your whole company works remotely, acknowledge that it is a distinct and different way of working. Don’t just hope it will sort itself out! Plan for it. Research how other teams are doing it. Work out what version of remote work will work best for your company. Communicate it. Experiment, collect data and be prepared to adapt.
Looking for inspiration? Check out this Remote Work Manifesto from Chris Herd (who literally wrote the book on remote).
2. Focus on outcomes
When you focus on the work that’s getting done, not the how, you’ll be in the right place to make any kind of flexibility work. We love how intentional The TOM CO is about this by setting company-wide behaviours and getting really specific about outcomes.
3. Build team culture online
You don’t have a water cooler (who does in fact?) so there’s less time to shoot the breeze and understand what’s going on in people’s lives. At Beam, we use Slack to share stories and photos of first days at school, weekends catching up with friends, getting new puppies and more.
Knowing what matters for your team will mean you can get the best from them and for them. It will also help reduce the likelihood of the misunderstandings that can come when you’re relying on digital, emoji-filled communication!
4. Work out loud
We’ve learned a lot from Alison at Quiip whose whole team works remotely across the world. When you’re not in an office, you can miss the golden ideas that come through the back and forth of office banter — or the latest update on a client that you overhear in a conversation. Take conscious steps to replicate this online. Overcommunicate. Document everything and make it visible.
At Beam, for example, Google Docs are our lifeline! We use them to convey all forms of information to each other, especially when we’re working asynchronously: where we’re at with our monthly goals, when a new part-time role comes through, the week’s marketing plan, etc.
5. Encourage your team to make clear plans
The good news about remote work? It can be easier to stay focussed. Bad news? It can mean powering through lunch breaks and natural pauses, which can actually reduce effectiveness and productivity.
At Beam, we love a to-do list to help us focus and smash through the top priorities first. But we also plan for social interactions, breaks and standing up and move around! Being able to do deep thinking work without interruption because you’re working from home is a huge productivity hack but when you switch gears to a new piece of work, do something to physically get moving or recharge the batteries. Get to know your body’s natural energy peaks and troughs and build them into your schedule.
6. Build in face-to-face communication
No doubt about it, seeing someone’s face helps everything run more smoothly. Encourage the use of video catch-ups wherever possible, even if it feels awkward at first — phone calls, team meetings, etc.
Beam Australia team Zooms in
Create opportunities for real life catch-ups. We have a Sydney HQ if any of our local employees want to meet up. Sometimes we meet at each other’s houses. The whole Beam team meets at least once a year for strategy sessions and it’s EPIC. We’ve found this is the still the best way (for our team that is) to plan for big, year-busting goals and get the team excited.
7. Use technology like your company depends on it!
Make sure you are using the best tech to enable your team — and don’t be afraid to experiment and change until you’ve found what works best. Set aside a proper amount of budget for these tools (hopefully you’re saving lots of money on office space!)
At Beam, our tech looks like:
- Google Suite for easy collaboration and sharing on documents
- Zoom for face-to-face catch-ups with the team and external clients
- Slack for updates throughout the day (we have specific work channels, but also #interestingcontent and #mentalhealth). We’ve reduced our email use by 90% with Slack.
- Trello for capturing whole of team to-do lists and handovers across days (we all work part-time too!)
- Email (that old thing) for when there’s a clear ask that you don’t want to get lost.
Get ready for unexpected benefits!
Stephanie is Co-Founder and Co-CEO of Beam Australia, home of career-worthy part-time jobs. They’re helping companies redesign roles to make them more flexible and inclusive.