One of the biggest reasons why the current remote work scenario is not working is because we are applying the norms of a normal workplace to a remote workplace. The same daily and weekly meetings are now run remotely. Tracking and updates are done the exact same way. People interactions and delivery expectations are all exactly the same- the only difference is that it is virtual!
Some of us may remember the time when technology companies were just becoming mainstream and starting to grow. Many managers and HR people transitioned into roles from manufacturing and services to the technology companies, bringing with them the practices that they were familiar with. This wreaked havoc on morale, productivity and customer satisfaction! It took a quite a few years, multiple iterations, daring experiments and blue sky thinking to create practices that worked for “knowledge worker” businesses!
We are in a similar situation now. For remote work to become mainstream and work well for both employees and organizations, we need to re-imagine the new workplace. In many areas of people practices, incremental innovation will not suffice.
So, what could the re-imagined remote workplace look like? And what can we do to enable this re-imagined workplace?
Reimagining the new workplace- Connection
Online gaming is an interesting model for making new connections and staying connected. Players login and find people they know to play with/ against. Or make new connections to compete with. In a similar way, companies can tweak their existing internal social networks and other collaboration tools to create a digital environment where people can connect. Serendipity, which plays a big part in making new connections and relationships can happen even in a virtual environment!
This change in thinking and use of technology may take special intent and effort. But there are simple things that we can start doing right away-
Teams can set aside specific times of the day, every day as break times. During this time individuals can choose to socialize with each other in ways that they are comfortable- over the phone, chat or video. Agreeing to set aside these times for the whole team, means that everyone knows that this is “down time” and that others are available to connect.
Another option is to have team coffee/tea get-togethers atleast once a week. Order tea/coffee & snacks to be delivered to individuals at their homes and get together to enjoy a virtual team social!
Team managers play a huge role in encouraging and enabling connections. Let us do this by being role models- initiating this , making it visible and ok for our teams to connect beyond work in this remote work scenario.
The only constraints to build connection are our intent and imagination. Let’s start to let our imagination run free and figure out what works best for our teams to build and keep connections!
We’d love to hear if you have already tried these or have other ideas that have worked for you. Please share your thoughts on my Linkedin post comments section.
In the following weeks we will continue to discuss how we can re-imagine the workplace from a motivation, accountability, space and listening perspective!