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Insights for Working, Leading, and Learning Remotely

Can Remote Teams Be Creative? How?

Estimated reading time: 6 minutes

 

Myth: Working remotely inhibits innovation.

Critics of remote work often make the claim that creativity and innovation are more effective when they occur in office settings.  However, this claim lacks evidence. Now that a global workforce has been experimenting with remote work for nearing two years, the research is in: remote work can be an advantage for innovation. 

Scientific American reports “extensive research shows that hybrid and remote teams can gain an innovation advantage and outcompete in-person teams by adopting best practices for innovation, such as virtual brainstorming.” The New York Times goes even further, saying, “people who study the issue say there is no evidence that working in person is essential for creativity and collaboration. It may even hurt innovation, they say, because the demand for doing office work at a prescribed time and place is a big reason the American workplace has been...

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The Ultimate Remote Team Holiday Gift Guide

Updated November 29, 2021

 

While we hope you’ve been showing appreciation to your remote teams throughout the year, we've reached the season where gifts can be a capstone token of appreciation for your employees’ contributions through what has assuredly been a difficult year.

Our team has pulled together a robust list of gift ideas that are specifically for professionals who work from home or as a part of distributed teams. We’ve focused on physical gifts as well as virtual presents for teams. Since we’re a small business ourselves, we aimed to include fellow small businesses throughout our suggestions.   

 

Physical Gifts that Require Shipping

Image source: Leon and George, Canva, Deskboard Buddy, SAMA Tea, Frères Branchiaux, Tsedal Neeley

Because so many professionals continued to be physically disconnected from friends, family, and co-workers this year, it can be especially meaningful for employees  to...

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Anatomy of a Perfect Blended Meeting

Estimated reading time: 7 minutes

 

Effective remote and hybrid teams prioritize async communication and collaboration. This might look like:

  • Sending direct messages with the expectation that the person will respond later, not immediately
  • Reducing the number of synchronous meetings in a given week
  • Structuring a blend of async and sync collaboration

Autonomous work, powered by async collaboration, means employees can get work done at different times, across time zones, and with flexible schedules. While leaders and individual contributors know they need to work asynchronously, they don’t know how. Effectively using blended meetings is one strategy for shifting your team’s work toward async-first practices.

 

What Is a Blended Meeting?

Blended meetings are a combination of asynchronous collaboration, which takes place not at the same time, and a synchronous meeting, where people connect at the same time. They typically involve async prework and postwork to...

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5 Work Challenges Solved by Empowering Async

Estimated reading time: 5 minutes, 25 seconds

 

September 2021 marked our 4th birthday at Workplaceless, and we hosted our final Networkplaceless event focused on async vs sync communication. While some news outlets represent remote work as a passing trend with an end in sight, savvy organizations are not only embracing remote and hybrid work, but empowering flexibility by shifting to async-first practices.

Since async-first work habits save time, reduce interruptions, increase autonomy, prevent burnout, reduce micromanagement, and combat inequity, we spent the majority of the session targeting attendee pain points and brainstorming solutions that leverage strategic use of synchronous communication and emphasize async. In fact, 100% of attendees expressed a desire to shift toward async-first communication to help solve some of their challenges. 


Common struggles include:

 

Attending Too Many Video Meetings and Zoom Fatigue

Zoom fatigue first entered our work...

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7 Actions for Effective Async Communication and Collaboration

Estimated reading time: 3 minutes, 30 seconds

 

Organizations continue to tackle remote and hybrid work challenges like overwork, Zoom fatigue, burnout, disconnection, and interruptions. Leaders, managers, and their teams recognize that finding the right balance between async and sync communication is critical. But coming from a work context where decision-making, creative thinking, and connection all take place in a co-located office environment, professionals often struggle to shift to this new paradigm of async-first work.

Before you start to learn how to implement asynchronous communication and collaboration, it’s critical to understand both:

But HOW can teams implement impactful async communication? Here are the seven fundamental steps to implementing effective asynchronous workflows, collaboration, and communication:

 

1. Establish a Placeless...

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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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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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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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How to Improve Remote Collaboration

By Casey Zheng, Growth Marketing Manager at RemoteHQ. RemoteHQ is a collaboration platform for modern remote teams to optimize their virtual productivity. 

 

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

 

With a new normal of working remotely for the foreseeable future, teams must learn how to better collaborate in order to maintain high performance. It isn’t surprising that many employees who recently tried remote work for the first time prefer it to being in an office. The flexibility remote work provides has been a game changer for most people. A July 2020 Gartner survey found that 82% of company leaders will allow employees to continue working remotely at least part of the time, and almost half said that their employees may continue full-time remote work. 

Companies must now prioritize creating a consistent and sustainable...

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