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CEOs and Leaders: Here's how to prepare for an extended period of remote work

Individual Work Practices

  • On time = one minute early, because there are lots of different links and things that people need to click.
  • Slack time vs. Solo time. If you're always available on Slack or email, you're multitasking and unable to do deep work. Instead, check in periodically throughout the day.
  • Dedicated workspace. Even if not ideal, try to create a dedicated home office workspace in whatever way possible.
  • Pomodoros & Music. The practice of the Pomodoro Technique (where you work for 25 to 50 minutes followed by a 5 - 10-minute break), combined with music to increase focus, is very effective.

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CEOs and Leaders: Here's how to prepare for an extended period of remote work

CEOs and Leaders: Here's how to prepare for an extended period of remote work

https://medium.com/@dhassell/ceos-and-leaders-heres-how-to-prepare-for-an-extended-period-of-remote-work-14968f3d668e

medium.com

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Key Ideas

Remote-first Mindset

Accept that you have to put in place remote work systems, even if more than half of your employees ultimately revert to office-based work.

  • If done right, a remote-first infrastructure will allow your employees' flexibility to be productive whenever, wherever.
  • It also opens up the ability to hire the best people regardless of locale.
  • It gives your organization a high degree of resilience.

Build a socially-connected culture

Intentionally design for the same interactions that would otherwise happen if people were in the office.

  • Culture is what naturally happens when a group of people gets together for any period.
  • A great culture happens with intentional design and influence. It's the reason you should make your company's mission, vision, values, operating principles, standards, and agreements visible. 
  • Culture is experienced through emotions, including how your employees feel about the company, you, other leaders, and peers. That feeling is developed through human interaction at the water cooler, kitchen, or hallway conversations.

Your leadership presence

Your people need to feel your presence as a leader as they will have fewer opportunities to see you face to face when they work remotely.

  • Regularly show up in a variety of forms that can include weekly video meetings, periodic company-wide emails, or presence in public channels.
  • Err on the side of more communication rather than less.

Specific training and tools

A common fear is that employees may work less when they work remotely. This fear is usually misguided, and the desire to micro-manage should be curbed.

  • Remote teams should be granted trust and then the right set of accountability and communication structures should be put in place.
  • Weekly check-ins and 1-on-1s are critical here to ensure a high degree of consistency and effectiveness.
  • When your team is intrinsically motivated, they will do their best work.
  • High engagement and performance are results, and not things you can manage directly.

Pros and cons of individual remote-work

  • Open offices can be full of distractions.
  • Long commutes have a negative impact on well-being.
  • Remote work increases job satisfaction and performance.

In the current situation where employees need to work from home without an effective home office setup, it is important to have empathy. Provide flexibility to ensure your employees are able to take care of their families alongside the needs of the business.

Video for everything

Video is a critical factor for doing remote work well while maintaining a sense of social connection. It allows you to better "read" people and creates a more cohesive team and experience.
It does not make sense to do a video call with your video off. Encourage people to turn their video on whenever possible in the gallery view.

“Boosts”

These meetings are designed to boost energy at the company. They may seem to have no business purpose, but they are essential for creating connection while fulfilling the lack of natural connection.

  • Express shared gratitude. 
  • Introduce new hires to the team with a 2-minute presentation about who they are and what they like, who their grandparents were, what makes them feel alive.
  • Share your numbers for the week, updates on OKRs, and announcements.
  • Add a Question Friday. Nominate someone to ask an interesting, universal, personal question to the group. For example, "if you could relive one experience, what would it be?"
  • Record the boosts and sent it to the team for those who were unable to attend.

Meetings

  • For the Leadership Team Meeting, start by having each member of the team rate how they're feeling and share a few words about their current state or weekend.
  • Train managers to spend 2-5 minutes at their regular scheduled meeting to talk about non-related work topics that build trust and deepen relationships.
  • Have a clear and detailed agenda in advance.
  • A few minutes before you conclude, ask everyone to rate the meeting and to share feedback.

Use OKRs

OKRs (Objectives and key results) are important for driving alignment around the few objectives that matter most. Using objectives helps to shift an employee from a task-oriented to a results-oriented focus.

  • Ensure your objectives are set top-down and bottom-up.
  • Ensure you're setting objectives that are specific and measurable, with accountable owners.
  • You need a system to keep these objectives top of mind, so their owners are reminded to stay focused.

Implement company-wide chat

If Zoom is your conference room, Slack is your open office. Just like an office, you need to think of leveraging Slack for both work and social interaction, where the team can have conversations they'd normally have in passing.
It can be anything from good morning, suggesting events, inspirational or funny stories, or offers for a virtual hangout.

Document everything

Being remote-first requires that you have a strong system for both shared files and documentation.
It is critical to have an impeccable organization with a remote, distributed team. It creates a higher standard for operating, even if you are all physically in the same room.

Appreciation and recognition

To build a strong, healthy culture, create a channel where people can thank, praise, or give recognition to one another. It increases positive communication in organizations, which in turn increases performance.

  • Thanking others increases the likelihood of helpfulness.
  • People thrive when they are seen and recognized for their work.

Manager/Employee Practices

Most of a manager's effectiveness in managing remote teams is when they engage in the right cadence of activities, and the right conversations at the appropriate time:

  1. Do Weekly check-ins, because you can no longer "manage by walking around."
  2. Regularly schedule 1-on-1s. A possible weekly 1-on-1 face-time is important for building a relationship and trust.
  3. Spontaneously message or call to check in and see how your team is doing. It can be a two-minute conversation or longer where they talk, with no agenda.
  4. Office hours. Have a weekly block of office ours available on your calendar where any of your managers or team members can book a slot, since they can't walk by and ask you to chat.
  5. Reviews from 2 - 4 times per year. Weekly/bi-weekly check-ins and 1-on-1s are good for the near term, but reviews are needed for a more zoomed-out view.

Weekly check-ins

Recurring check-ins ensure regular communication between managers and their direct reports. Each week, every employee reflects on their role and provides a brief update and share the following:

  • A quick pulse on how they’re feeling.
  • A green/yellow/red on their current OKRs/Rocks/Objectives/MBOs to indicate their confidence level that they will reach the deadline as well as the progress towards any measurable key results.
  • A brief list of their top priorities for the coming week.
  • Bullet point answers to a few simple questions, such as “What’s going well in your role? Any wins you’d like to share? Any challenges you’re facing? 

(Check-ins are NOT a replacement for in-person or video 1-on-1s.)

Individual Work Practices

  • On time = one minute early, because there are lots of different links and things that people need to click.
  • Slack time vs. Solo time. If you're always available on Slack or email, you're multitasking and unable to do deep work. Instead, check in periodically throughout the day.
  • Dedicated workspace. Even if not ideal, try to create a dedicated home office workspace in whatever way possible.
  • Pomodoros & Music. The practice of the Pomodoro Technique (where you work for 25 to 50 minutes followed by a 5 - 10-minute break), combined with music to increase focus, is very effective.

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  • Create a space exclusively for work that is removed from distractions, just like you would at your office desk.
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