This post is the second part of our Embracing Remote Culture series. You can read the first part: Understanding the Impact of Remote Work here.
Most companies have already invested in technology that supports remote work. The framework and resources are there, and it’s just a matter of learning how to use it to embrace this shift. When we come together to embrace change and re-learn our work habits, we can fundamentally change the relationship that people have with their jobs. Now is a great time to join innovative companies like Buffer, Mixpanel, Doist, Zoom, and more and explore the ways you can drive a remote work culture in your organization. So now that you see the benefits of remote work, let’s talk about how you can implement this at your company. It all comes down to people, technology, trust, and cultural engagement.
With any type of change, like transitioning to a remote workforce, applying a change management plan is key to increase awareness of the change and empower people to make the change. When creating a change plan, you must first understand the current state of your organization and where you want to be after the change. What are the things you want to maintain, and where do you want to improve? Develop a project plan, assess the priority gap areas, and engage your champions. We recommend starting with your mid-level managers as early adopters and advocates to help implement the change – after all, they hold a ton of influence in your company. A simple plan that includes timelines, tools, process, and protocols of working remotely will be your beacon during this transition.
Now that we have greater access to technology, this is the easy part. Most people have it, but you need to ensure people understand how to leverage it. Establishing protocols on when people use messaging, emails and meetings enables more effective communication. A great rule of thumb when determining which method of communication is best: if a message requires less than one line of explanation or is a task-oriented request, then use instant messaging to that person or group. Anything between 2 and 5 lines should be sent in an email, as this will probably be an operating direction, rather than a task and may require follow-up. Messages over five sentences, especially those involving strategic direction, will require a virtual meeting with a clear agenda and owner participation. With tools like Zoom, Hangouts, Blue Jeans, and others, virtual meetings are easier to hold than ever. Any meeting scheduled should provide clearly defined justification for its occurrence, along with an understanding of why each person needs to attend. Outlining the purpose beforehand ensures everyone knows the objective of the meeting, which will increase productivity. It also reduces the risk of scheduling useless meetings and wasting others’ time. “Check-ins” or update meetings should be limited to once a week and take up no more than 30 minutes. Additionally, weekly team communications, which include updates on goal attainment, milestones, and more, should be sent once a week.
The best way to earn trust is to give it. Provide trust upfront and show vulnerability. The book and supplemental training called Fierce Conversations: Achieving Success at Work and in Life, One Conversation at a Time by Susan Scott visualizes trust in the form of a tree. Focus on building and maintaining trust at the roots and trunk. Focus day to day conversations on the big picture, strategic direction, the team wellness and overall performance. Let go of the leaves and branches – the micromanaging habits people can build when adjusting to a remote culture. If the core is strong – meaning you and your team are aligned on the big picture components mentioned earlier – those smaller things will continuously evolve over time. They will regrow if the core is strong. Avoid wasting time on little things that fundamentally do not matter to the core because the core will be strong when trust resides and the little oversights don’t really matter. If you look at the 80/20 rule, it gives great perspective on what really drives execution. It’s not perfection, but rather a usage of valuable time in executing something great that will always evolve from a good foundation – much like the roots and trunk of a tree.
The best way to drive remote cultural engagement is by checking in with your team in one on ones and group meetings. By using the McCarthy Protocols you can easily establish how your team member or employee is feeling at the beginning of the meeting when they check in by saying if they’re glad, mad, sad, or afraid. This provides an honest current state of your employee and your team, and you use this to drive the meeting and address the team’s gaps or concerns – or better yet the successes. By checking in and checking out of meetings you have a pulse on your people (eliminating surprises later) plus it yields a major trust component because everyone is speaking candidly and you as a leader can guide the next steps. We don’t know what we don’t know many times – so just ask at the beginning and the end. It will help you as a manager, turning you into a coach who unblocks their people and unlocks their potential.
We all have the power to drive a successful culture for our businesses – remote or otherwise. Regardless of whether you’re ready for the transition or not, we hope that you can use these points to nurture your company core – your employees – and create a workforce that’s agile and capable of going through change as the world evolves. GoCoach is here to help companies develop their employees’ skillsets to drive a successful remote work culture. We provide coaching that helps coachees improve communication, collaboration, project management, time management, and other related areas. For more information on remote culture transformation and evolution, please check out our blog and contact our team here. Our goal is to support the changing and evolving workforce through coaching with a focus on helping people transform and evolve both themselves and their business.