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The Five Levels of Remote Work - and why you're probably at Level 2

Remote work

The pandemic has forced companies the world over to move to remote working protocols. But like most things worth doing, there are different levels of proficiency and sophistication to scale.

Just because you have tools like Zoom, Slack, and email, does not mean you will be efficient. Tools are only as good as how you use them.

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The Five Levels of Remote Work - and why you're probably at Level 2

The Five Levels of Remote Work - and why you're probably at Level 2

https://medium.com/swlh/the-five-levels-of-remote-work-and-why-youre-probably-at-level-2-ccaf05a25b9c

medium.com

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Key Ideas

Remote work

The pandemic has forced companies the world over to move to remote working protocols. But like most things worth doing, there are different levels of proficiency and sophistication to scale.

Just because you have tools like Zoom, Slack, and email, does not mean you will be efficient. Tools are only as good as how you use them.

Level 1: Non-Deliberate Action

Most organizations were at level one prior to the new virus outbreak where nothing deliberate has been done by the company to support remote work.
  • Employees can still offer a good service if they're at home for a day.
  • Employees have access to their phone and email and can even attend a few meetings, but they put off most things until they're back in the office.

Level 2: Recreating the Office Online

Most organizations are at level 2. This is where employees have access to videoconferencing and instant messaging software as well as email, and they try to recreate online, how they work in the office. Examples include:

  • A 10-person video-call where two people would suffice.
  • 60+ interruptions a day via Slack and phone calls.
  • Sporadic checking and responding to email many times a day.
  • Hyper-responsiveness that is expected of all employees.
  • People are still expected to be online from 9 to 5.
  • Screen-logging software on employees' machines to play the role of Big Brother.

Level 3: Adapting to the medium

Here, organizations start to adapt to and take advantage of the medium.

  • Companies use shared documents that are visible to all and updated in real-time during a discussion.
  • They invest in better equipment for their employees, such as lighting for video-calls and background noise-canceling microphones.
  • Effective written communication becomes critical for remote work.
  • Meetings are only done if absolutely necessary.
  • Meeting are 15 minutes by default, and only extended if absolutely necessary, with s specific agenda and desired outcome.

Level 4: Asynchronous Communication

Level Four: ‘I’ll get to it when it suits me.’
Asynchronous communication allows knowledge workers time to make better decisions because they have time to think, create, and get into the flow state. When sending messages:

  • Provide sufficient background detail, clear action items, and outcomes required.
  • Provide a due date.
  • Provide a path of recourse if the recipient is unable to meet your requirements.

Awaken the Night Owls

Studies found that about 30 to 40 percent of the population are night owls, meaning that the modern 9-to-5 workday is sabotaging creative and intellectual efforts.

While early risers are more alert in the morning, night owls show sharper focus and longer attention spans ten hours after waking. Asynchronous companies benefit from night owls but require a functional overlap between them and their colleague's day.

Level 5: 'Nirvana'

This is where your distributed team works better than any in-person team, emphasizing environment design as far as the organization's culture and physical environment is concerned.

Cons new remote teams face

  • Employees have to make time to be in the office for team bonding and building events. They also make an effort to introduce people who have not met in person.
  • Working online removes you from the watercooler conversations, or just having a general awareness of your team's activities.
  • With IT hacks using social engineering to get inside, computer networks that are remotely bridged to client devices can become a point of failure.

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