Remote work, a mini playbook
Is remote work the future of work?
The month long lockdowns following the COVID-19 outbreak forced a large number of workers all over the world to try working from their home. For some, it was a first experience of remote working. For companies after a long denial, it was a proof of concept that “remote work” can actually work well. As people are asking if remote work could be the future of work, let’s explore the practical side of it.
62% of employed Americans worked from home during the lockdown. 3 out of 5 reported that they would prefer to continue working for home. (source “U.S. Workers Discovering Affinity for Remote Work”).
Some tech companies, like Twitter, announced that they are looking to adopt WFH “working from home”. Facebook, Microsoft are investigating the question. While companies like Basecamp have been working remotely for the past twenty years. Basecamp is an online project management and communication solution well adapted to work remotely (for more: https://basecamp.com/ ). The co-founders published a book in 2010 and more recently a podcast on Remote Work, titled “ReWork” ( https://rework.fm/ ).
- A high speed wifi connection became in two months as essential as having electricity and water.
- A dedicated workspace (*) as small office — home office, preferably with natural light, shelvings and an individual desk. (* bedroom and kitchen should not get elected)
Most importantly you need to learn to work differently especially by:
- documenting your work, how-tos, ideas and writing memos of any work related conversation.
- learning to work asynchronously and more autonomously, so that you are not dependent of a live conversation to move forward and get things done.
- managing your time, respecting the time of your co-workers.
- focusing on deliverables, outcomes.
Three essentials meta-skills for WFH
- Learning how-to learn
- Learning to communicate
- Learning to manage your time and attention.
Each worker has to adapt to a new way of working with more responsibilities, especially in managing himself autonomously.
Working remotely doesn’t mean working alone or feeling left apart. Stay connected with your co-workers, keep having small talks, set-up not work related calls.
Listen more than you talk. Read more. Write more.
Find a work routine and hours that work well for you to keep motivated and having blocks of deep work without outside interruptions.
Become a Self-Manager
Organizing your work is now up to you. You need to adjust to a new way of working in which you have more control of your time, goals and priorities.
Having a dedicated workspace can help to avoid being constantly interrupted especially while you are working on important tasks. Switch your smartphone to airplane-mode and turn off all notifications and all incoming calls when you have to stay focused to work with all your attention.
It becomes more important than ever to document as you work, to write down, illustrate and clarify your work in progress. The more you can perceive your progression and see the results of your work the better.
Simple online tools like Trello (free app, for more check trello.com or Trello) can help to follow your tasks and adopt KANBAN boards to manage your work in progress. I use the iterative and simple KAIZEN approach for personal project management. Most of my articles are about self-development, you can find them at Christophe Berg or listen to the Blue Lotus Café podcast.
Time for Change? in Leadership
Leaders have to allow the emergence of remote work by changing the way they manage their teams.
- TRUST! avoid micro-managing, checking hours, having constant calls or live-meetings.
- CLARIFY your Vision! Write it down to share it on a document. Define SMART GOALS and share them.
- Allocate time-budget per project. And adjust based on real duration. Avoid micro-managing and trying to evaluate the duration of each small tasks. Keep the big picture in mind, make sure that project’s objectives are clear and relevant. Evaluate the outcomes and the overall project progression. Facilitate the work of your team, remove obstacle, stream-line and simplify as much as possible.
- Stay connected, give constructive feedback. Listen and observe. Facilitate the cooperation within the team.
It is hard to know if the remote work will even become a reality in the coming years. But it is an alternative way of working to consider for a brighter future. So keep exploring, learning by experimenting…seize the opportunities to adapt and evolve to this new reality. Have fun!