Editor’s Note: As more and more executives find themselves navigating the opportunities and challenges of leading the remote workforce, Chief Executive has launched a new resource site, RemoteWork360.com to help. Visit Remotework360.com >
This has been a significant year of change across the globe, particularly in the workplace as we have all had to adapt and rethink our workforce strategies. As we look to find the answers to the right, wrong, and most effective ways to move forward in the new normal in 2021 and beyond, one thing is for certain: remote work practices are here to stay. Whether your team is fully remote or is a hybrid of remote and in-office, the workplace has forever been affected. Major companies like Facebook and Twitter have already set a precedent by allowing employees to work remotely, permanently.
As a remote-centric company with 750+ employees spanning 35 countries, remote work has been ingrained in our DNA since Auth0 was founded in 2013. Over the past seven years, we have found success in giving our team the freedom to do their best work on their own terms, regardless of location. Here are a few key lessons we learned on how to make remote work successful.
1. Learn to love remote work
It is important to first recognize that we are in a very unique time and the past several months have not been ‘normal’ remote work settings. People are not only adjusting to new work practices such as working remotely, but there are many other factors to consider right now—in a normal remote setting your kids are at school, your partner is at work, you are not cooking all day, among other things.
For companies forced to work remotely during the pandemic, there is great risk in rushing to “see this doesn’t work” judgment, not giving it the time it needs, or just thinking remote work is just a thing for tech startups. Be slow to make decisions and have the flexibility to adapt and make changes where needed. There is an adjustment time required if you have not previously been predominantly remote.
2. Hiring for talent unleashes a greater talent pool
The constraints of hiring for one location puts you at a disadvantage. Being open to the idea of a global and remote workforce naturally unleashes a pool of talent that otherwise would not be available. By enabling your team members to do their best work regardless of location, you will be able to hire a diverse mix of people from different backgrounds and skill sets without having to compete with other companies within a certain region; a team that is also naturally closer to your customers across the globe.
3. Remote work is not a cost-cutting measure
At the end of the day, remote work should not be looked at as a cost-cutting measure—a program centered on this thinking is doomed to fail. Remote work requires more work, not less. You can’t just hand out laptops, send employees on their way and join sessions on Zoom. Or randomly except your team to ”collaborate” by chat on Slack. You have to be deliberate about how you communicate, and how you align teams behind common goals. And you must support the wellbeing of employees from a personal, professional and regulatory perspective.
4. Communication is your most effective tool; use it
With the obvious lack of face-to-face communication, trust and a philosophy of work based on results and not on chair time are at the heart of a successful remote culture. Multidirectional communication is critical as trust is built from the bottom up and from the top down. And especially during times like right now where human communication is missing and feelings of isolation are high, be aware of different video and communication tools like Zoom and Slack and create virtual spaces that facilitate idea exchanges, bonding and socialization to keep your team engaged and connected to each other.
5. Create a routine, set boundaries
With remote work, there are many things to take into account and the lines between personal and professional life are blurred. Working remotely requires discipline, structure and boundaries—you could very easily burn out if you’re not setting good practices in place and creating a routine for yourself. When you work remotely it is important to complement the ‘start/stop’ ceremonies like commuting and leaving the office. It takes effort, but if you do not have discipline, your life is all work, which is not good for anyone. Encourage your team to devise their own schedules, so they can complete their work when feeling most productive and collaborative.
While the benefits of remote work and flexible work options are endless, it is important to recognize that everyone operates differently and you have to figure out what works best for you and your team. As the benefits of remote work continue to be seen, you will realize how a remote workforce can be an integral part to your success within the increasingly competitive industries you play in. Looking forward to 2021 and beyond, remote work will likely be a large part of the future of business—and for good reason. It works if you are willing to put the work in.