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Insights for Working, Leading, and Learning Remotely

Ending Remote Work Isn’t The Answer

Originally published June 2019. Just as relevant in July 2021.

 

As of June 2019, Remote work is on the rise and expected to grow exponentially in the coming years. Yet, some companies are changing course by banning and limiting remote opportunities, finding comfort in supposedly having more controlled work environments in brick-and-mortar offices.

An article published by SHRM (“Why Are Companies Ending Remote Work?”) discusses the reasoning behind the shift of large corporations such as IBM, ATT and Yahoo to recall remote employees. Specifically, the author identifies the following concerns with remote work:

 

  • Employers allow people to work remotely without giving them the proper training or resources to do so productively.
  • Supervisors—untrained on how to properly manage and monitor remote workers—find it easier to manage someone face-to-face.
  • Some supervisors—perhaps because they feel they must be in control or don't trust their...
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20 Habits of Healthy and Productive Remote Teams

 

Successful remote teams understand the need to develop the fundamental skills necessary to function efficiently and effectively in a distributed environment, but they also iterate on best practices that work for their particular organization. We reached out to fully remote teams and companies to ask “what are some habits or rituals your team uses to stay healthy or productive?”

Here are some habits they shared that we can all learn from.

 

“Schedule flexibility is key to health and happiness, and GitLab is consistent about prioritizing time away from work. Every Friday is a meeting-reduced Focus Friday; About once per month, the entire company shuts down for Friends and Family Day. 

In 2021, we piloted an experiment in Async Weeks: every sixth week, my team clears all non-critical meetings from our calendars to create space for deep work and innovation. It’s a breath of fresh air to have a wide-open calendar and all the time you need to...

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2021 Report Reveals the Need for Remote Manager Training

Corine Tan is co-founder of Kona, the wellness platform for remote teams. Her Slack app has helped teams at Asana, Medium, HelpScout, Coffee Meets Bagel, Happy Money, and more improve their emotional health and build trust. The Kona team has interviewed over 550 remote managers since January 2020 and compiled their findings in their annual Remote Manager Report.

 

The State of Remote Training in 2020

When my team at Kona first started interviewing remote managers in January 2020, we had no idea how soon the world would dramatically change. In a span of two months, we witnessed a worldwide remote experiment unfold as entire countries fell into lockdown. We scrambled to record the immediate experiences of managers and documented our findings in our 2020 Remote Manager Report. Three major takeaways emerged from our data:

  1. New and experienced remote managers struggled disproportionately with relationship building (46.7%) and miscommunication (30.2%).
  2. Emotional intelligence was the...
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Keys to Successful Remote Performance Management

Estimated reading time: 3 minutes, 25 seconds

 

"If someone comes in five days, and another person three days, let me tell you I'm giving a promotion to the five day and I'm sidelining the three day." This sentiment is further reinforced in The Atlantic’s reporting of a series of studies that revealed “people will assume that those who put in a lot of office time are go-getters, even if they’re not.”

Unfortunately, leaders feel more comfortable when they can “see” employees working. If this is the leadership mindset when shifting to a flexible, hybrid, or fully remote structure, your organization is set up to fail.

Instead, organizations that are concerned with remote employee performance should evaluate the impacts of:

  • Too many synchronous meetings
  • Inefficient work that lacks async structure and practices
  • Interruptions due to lack of boundaries or documentation
  • Disengagement stemming from overwork and a lack of autonomy

Our ...

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4 Reasons to Provide Global Healthcare for Remote Teams

By Barbara Jovanovic, the Head of Content at SafetyWing.
SafetyWing (YC W18) is here to remove the role of geographical borders as a barrier to equal opportunities and freedom for everyone, by creating a global social safety net for remote workers and nomads worldwide. It’s your home country on the internet. 

We're grateful to SafetyWing for sharing their expertise. Any opinions expressed within this blog post are those of the author and not necessarily held by Workplaceless itself.


 

SafetyWing has been a fully remote company from day one. We strongly believe that remote work is the future of work. We also believe that all problems are solvable. Once the pandemic hit, we wanted to make sure we were solving as many problems as possible for the remote community. We did that by offering resources and advice to other companies that were forced to suddenly go remote. The number of teams and leaders that managed to maintain a healthy company culture and motivate...

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Async Wins: What Teams Gain By Going Async

Estimated reading time: 5 minutes, 45 seconds

Jamar is in the flow of work when a notification pops up that he’s received a new email from his manager. Even though he’s extremely focused, he steps out of his workflow to respond. His manager has asked him to connect with finance to confirm a budget number, but doesn’t specify a timeline. Jamar wants to prove his worth so he picks up the phone to call his finance colleague, Chantel. When Chantel answers, Jamar expresses an urgency to his request and he waits on the line while Chantel stops her work to dig through reports to find what he needs. After finishing the call and sending his manager a response, Jamar realizes he needs to head to a meeting, and won’t be able to finish up his original project work like he intended.

This scenario of regular demands on synchronous time plague many workforces today. Employees experience non-stop phone calls, messages from coworkers expecting a speedy response, and...

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Let’s Play! How to Create the Perfect Blended Virtual Retreat Experience

Our Workplaceless team is proudly fully remote and globally distributed. However, we still get giddy whenever we get the chance to connect in person, and we normally aim to meet in person once or twice a year. With the travel restrictions in 2020 and into 2021, we weren’t able to make it happen, but we all needed the opportunity to connect as if we were together. So we set out to plan a synchronous and asynchronous virtual team retreat.

 

Planning the Retreat.

We started planning two months prior to our targeted retreat timing.

  • Select a planning committee. We wanted elements of our retreat to remain a surprise, so we selected a small planning committee and delegated responsibilities for organizing activities based on expertise and interest.
  • Set goals. Outlining goals for the retreat will help team members see value in the event and help them focus on the aspects that are most important. Thinking about purpose first makes planning easier, because you’re less likely...
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24 Tips for Inclusion on Hybrid Teams

Estimated reading time: 5 minutes, 30 seconds

 

“I’ve been doing this for over a year, I’ve got it figured out and don’t need to develop skills.” This is the 2021 fatal mindset flaw for managers of remote employees. Reminder: emergency remote work doesn’t develop the same habits you’ll need for sustainable remote work. And critically important as offices reopen, hybrid is harder than everyone working fully remote.

Hybrid teams have an increased risk of inequitable experiences between in-office and remote team members. Establishing policies, practices, rituals, skills, and benefits that actively level the playing field and focus on inclusion will prove critical to the health and success of hybrid teams. Here are important themes and helpful ideas to get started.

Craft policies with clarity and intention.

One attendee referenced the quote “Clear is kind. Unclear is unkind.”

1. As we emphasize in our Placeless Playbook,...

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Experienced Advice for Leading Hybrid Teams

Estimated reading time: 6 minutes

 

Have you heard? Hybrid’s the word.

Hybrid’s the word (is the word, is the word that you heard)

It's got a groove, it's got a meaning

Hybrid’s the time, is the place, is the motion

Hybrid’s the way we are feeling

via GIPHY

 

Most executives still see the need for some in-person interaction and physical offices—63% according to this PWC report. This increased presence of hybrid work requires shifts in working practices and behaviors, especially for leaders. To unlock proven practices for leading hybrid teams, we welcomed Meaghan Williams, Remote Work and Inclusion Program Manager at HubSpot and Scott Wharton, VP & General Manager, Video Collaboration Group at Logitech to share advice at our most recent Networkplaceless event. 

In the words of Meaghan, “Hybrid work requires us to pivot from a reliance on in-person communication and collaboration towards a more intentional, asynchronous, and...

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Async vs Sync: Balancing Remote Team Communication

Estimated reading time: 4 minutes, 10 seconds 

 

Communication is the exchange of messages—in the context of work, communication is how ideas are generated, expectations are shared, connections are made, and work gets done. At a general level, communication modes can be divided into two types: synchronous (sync) and asynchronous (async). 

What comes to mind when you hear the term asynchronous? Pre-pandemic our team would receive blank stares when bringing up the concept during conversations. However, 2020 saw a significant rise in the term as asynchronous communication and asynchronous learning began to play a larger part in our daily lives. 

With BCG’s Decoding Global Ways of Work study reporting that 89% of professionals would like to work fully or partially remote in the future, async communication is going to be critical to success. But what exactly is async communication, what is it not, and why is it so important? A common definition of...

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