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A Placeless Mindset: The Foundation to Successful Remote Teams

Estimated reading time: 5 minutes

 

Remote work has been around for years. However, what separates the remote winners from the remote quitters isn’t just a matter of tools. It’s recognizing the difference between a co-located and a remote mindset. The philosophies underlying successful remote work are fundamentally different from those of a traditional office workspace. We refer to this remote mindset as a “Placeless Mindset.”

 

What is a Placeless Mindset?

A Placeless Mindset is not just a process of getting tasks done but rather an integrated way of thinking, living, and, yes, working. It’s a philosophy and an attitude that can be summarized as: 

 

A Placeless Mindset is a keen understanding that our lives, and therefore our work, are not rooted in a singular place, but rather require flexibility in location and communication in order to balance multiple goals and priorities. 

 

Adopting a Placeless Mindset helps to clarify what it means to be a remote worker, a remote leader, and a remote team. 

 

Steps to Adopting a Placeless Mindset

A Placeless Mindset is one component of the three pillars required for sustainable remote work:

  • Mindset
  • Infrastructure
  • Capabilities

The remote mindset goes deeper than a simple switch to using virtual work tools or working from home. It requires you to shift your philosophy about work entirely, as remote workers are not bound by the constraints of brick-and-mortar offices or 9-to-5 work schedules. This can be unnerving for leaders and workers, so we wanted to offer a helpful outline on how to shift your perspective. 

 

1. Embrace autonomy and location independence 

Remote professionals can work from their homes, or (once reopened) coworking spaces, or move fluidly between different locations, based upon where the individual is most productive and their life demands. Work tasks are not location dependent. 

 

As a remote leader:

  • Recognize the individual differences and cultures of your team’s varied locations
  • Encourage individual freedom as not just a benefit but a core tenant of remote work
  • Establish the foundational best practices and resources for your teams to accomplish work autonomously
  • Leverage communication channels (often asynchronous) that are optimized for location independence

As a remote professional:

  • Develop self-management skills including goal setting, time management, and stress management to take advantage of your independence
  • Consider the benefits of your location independence, such as traveling or visiting relatives and friends while working 

 

2. Adapt and embrace a flexible schedule

Remote leaders and workers must be flexible because change is the only constant in our global, digital economy.

 

As a remote leader:

  • Learn your team’s optimally productive remote work preferences. For example, recognize if your team prefers a late start on Mondays and an early end on Fridays.
  • Adjust meetings around your team’s availability (not the other way around)
  • Keep a Business Continuity document updated with your team’s status

As a remote professional:

  • Update your team about your current status, and let them know when things change
  • Take advantage of opportunities to also balance your day for your health, such as a mid-day bike ride or exercise.
  • Flex your hours to care for family

 

3. Recognize the positive impact asynchronous work has on productivity 

Don’t rely on a physical presence to signal that work is getting done. While you want to strategically choose times to connect synchronously, you should prioritize learning the skills needed to successfully engage in asynchronous work. Not only does this give room for increased productivity, but it allows your team more autonomy and flexibility.

 

As a remote leader:

  • Rely on a results-first model, and reduce the need for required presence via time and screen tracking in your organization
  • Set clear expectations with your team about what “done” means 
  • Establish a communication charter with your team to ensure all channels are used effectively

As a remote professional:

  • Use project management tools to align work priorities, stay on task, and showcase completion
  • Regularly reference a team communication charter, and create a personal communication charter to impactfully connect with colleagues 

 

4. Be open and transparent 

Isolation is a challenge in remote work, but it doesn’t stem from a lack of Zoom meetings or facetime. Colleagues may feel isolated if there isn’t space for vulnerability, sharing, and self-disclosure.

 

As a remote leader:

  • Share challenges and struggles daily and weekly with your team via Slack, an internal blog, or in one-on-one or group conversations 
  • Document information thoroughly, and proactively ask for honest feedback
  • Create moments for sharing and self-disclosure in meetings, or create spaces to connect openly

As a remote professional:

  • Share your own vulnerabilities with your team; if you’re having trouble achieving your goals or encountering roadblocks to your productivity, make your team aware 
  • Ask about the well-being of your teammates with intention and care—respect the boundaries of your colleagues
  • Take care of your mental health while working remotely—pay attention to signs of potential struggles and learn about resources and strategies to cope.

 

5. Trust your colleagues and employees

There’s a common phrase that “trust is earned.” However, successful remote teams know that trusting your team members is the baseline. Starting with trust is essential because there are fewer opportunities for casual and spontaneous interactions that build trust. Rather, remote teams focus on the behaviors that reinforce trust. 

 

As a remote leader:

  • Create a culture free from the burdens of “micromanagement”—dedicate time to learn the skills to accomplish this with the appropriate checks and balances
  • Develop professional and casual rapport to reinforce trust, and respect individual differences

As a remote professional:

  • Assume the best in your colleagues
  • Remember that your perspective is from your point of view—you may not have the complete picture 
  • Open lines of communication to ensure common understanding and avoid communication pitfalls

 

How do you think your team performs when it comes to embracing a Placeless Mindset?

Take our Remote Readiness Assessment and evaluate your mindset performance, as well as infrastructure and capabilities. 

  


We’re happy to support your team with the best ways to develop and embrace a Placeless Mindset. 

 

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