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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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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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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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More Effective Virtual Meetings in 9 Easy Steps

For remote teams, meetings are essential to building relationships, communication, and collaboration. But virtual meetings can also be one of the biggest time-wasters for remote teams. 

Which of these situations sound familiar?

  • You're at a meeting that you probably don't need to attend, but attendance is mandatory.
  • All anyone is doing at the meeting is presenting updates.
  • There is no interaction between meeting participants.
  • One person, or a couple of people, dominates the discussion.
  • The meeting runs long.
  • There is no clear agenda.
  • By the end of the meeting, people are confused about next steps.

Virtual meetings don’t have to be this way. 

Our recent Networkplaceless conversation focused on building and facilitating more effective virtual meetings. Mark Tippin of MURAL, Waikit Lau of RemoteHQ, Megan Eddinger of Workplaceless, and all of our attendees shared experienced advice. Here are some critical steps you can implement today to make your virtual meetings...

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7 Warning Signs Your Remote Team Needs Training

Estimated reading time: 7 minutes, 30 seconds 

 

We speak regularly with experienced and newly remote leaders and clients who feel that for the most part, their teams are operating smoothly—they’re just experiencing a few “hiccups.” But really, who isn’t experiencing hiccups, especially in 2020?

As we dig deeper into some of these hiccups, we often uncover true gaps in skills, processes, and overall alignment that are hurting business performance. It's vital that leaders can determine whether a hiccup is temporary and easily remedied, or rather a warning sign indicative of a deeper issue with harmful future effects.

To that end, here are seven of the most common symptoms that indicate your team is working suboptimally, and where we know remote work training is the most effective intervention to ensure the long-term vitality of your remote team or organization.



1. Team Members Experience Miscommunications

Charles: “But during...

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How Trust and Training Boost Remote Productivity

Estimated reading time: 3 minutes, 20 seconds

 

The debate continues: are remote teams more productive? If you’re in the Netflix CEO’s camp, there are no benefits to remote (our quick thoughts on that here) and you would feel bolstered by this study shared by Tech Republic. On the opposing view, some research has revealed stabilization or gains in productivity, such as from BCG

 

The reality is that not all remote professionals are productive because not all remote professionals are given the tools and support they need to thrive. This is especially important in the context of COVID-19, when the shift to remote work for so many people has been unstrategic and unexpected. The two key factors that determine whether or not remote professionals, and subsequently remote teams, are productive are trust and training.



How Does Trust Impact Productivity?

 

Effective remote work is based on the premise that professionals are more productive when they...

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The Guide to Giving Feedback Remotely

Estimated reading time: 4 minutes

 

One of the top mistakes remote managers make is failing to give timely and meaningful feedback. Improper—or a total lack of—feedback quickly leads to disengaged employees and poor performance.

As many leaders continue to work through how to best navigate virtual interactions with employees, we’ve developed a quick guide on how to give effective feedback, remotely

 

When providing remote feedback, DO: 

 

  • Be specific. Use extended messages to communicate the purpose and direction of your feedback. Highlight specific examples of what was committed to, what was said and done, as well as the implications.
  • Be prompt. It’s important to establish and communicate timelines for performance reviews. However, when addressing specific situations remote leaders must share the feedback as soon as possible. Even if you and the team member are not able to connect immediately, reach out via Slack or email and...
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6 Expert Steps To Improving Your Remote Team’s Communication

Estimated reading time: 5 minutes, 30 seconds

 

How do teams choose how to communicate? 

In a co-located work environment, the answer is pretty clear: walk down the hall or pop into someone’s office for a quick check-in; send an email if they’re not there. 

As researchers remind us, face-to-face may be the richest medium for communication, but when teams want to be more productive, cost-effective, and have access to talent, companies turn to remote and hybrid work. But as remote teams know, there are hundreds of choices for meetings, chatting, collaborating—synchronous and asynchronous communication tools . . . where does one start? 

The selection of communication tools begins with understanding the unique challenges of remote team communication and defining processes that work for professionals who are not physically located in the same office space.

During our July Networkplaceless event, we welcomed three experts who led us in a...

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Why Do Remote Leaders Need Training?

Estimated reading time: 2 minutes, 30 seconds

 

Companies across the world are currently faced with questions about how to reconfigure the way to work going forward after the suddenly shifting to remote work in response to COVID-19. Each week a fresh slate of executives are announcing adjusted remote work policies. For example, Chief Operating Officer, Sabine Keller-Busse, of UBS Group AG recently announced that as many as a third of its employees could work remotely on a permanent basis. In numerous sectors, including insurance, banking, media, and tech, the trend toward adopting hybrid-remote work models is spiking and becoming a defining feature of the future of work.

 

Often these announcements include detailed plans for what reopening co-located offices might look like, but what does that look like for employees who remain virtual? We fail to see the same level of care put into outlining a plan for the sustainability and productivity of remote workers. We created...

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