What’s good remote work culture and what isn’t?

Healthy practices for remote work solutions

Silhouette of People during Golden Hour

The shifts and trends shaping remote work operations today will determine good and bad remote work culture. That is to say, one direction takes advantage of mobile work and reinforces it with nuance and productivity. The other path creates an inefficient work set up with added stress, increased worker burnout, and strategies that ultimately harm a company’s production goals.

Remote work is not like traditional setups. And, in fact, it’s this mindset that can harm an enterprise in the long run. The act of trying to “simulate” a traditional work environment in a remote setting leads to problems, versus solutions. Indeed, management might try to mandate routine meetings, deploy monitoring tools, and introduce project software. But without recognizing how different remote setups are versus “the office,” they’ll stumble in the long run.

Why replicating the traditional work environment doesn’t translate over

First off, let’s recognize that with remote working, projects, jobs, and workloads are handled in an “asynchronous” manner. That means they’re handled by staff at different times of the day and week, versus all staff managing a project in a typical nine-to-five.

This isn’t a bad thing. Everyone has different schedule dynamics which are important to recognize. In remote environments, even more so, as people have family and personal obligations, especially if they operate from home. But their ability to manage projects and job tasks within their timeframe means your production model (ideally, at least) isn’t impacted. It’s also good to recognize those worker dynamics and not create demands which may impede them at home.

Example: does Jack have kids? It might not be good to schedule meetings in his timezone when he’s taking his children to school. Small details like that are what define remote workforces and their respective “remote work culture.” And it’s those same small details an enterprise should invest and learn about to get a sense of its workforce, even more so.

Ironically, a business will potentially learn more about its staff than when they operated with an office setup.

Silos and tools

Work “silos,” a common business phrase, gets passed around a lot. Teams need permissions from other teams which require info from another team, etc. You get the idea. A silo’d remote workforce ends up needing a left hand for a right-handed task. Ending the crop of silos and creating a streamlined remote work setting will separate adopters from late ones.

But another differentiator between good and bad remote work are software tools. Software suites, apps, and management platforms must work together, rather than step on each other’s digital toes. Easier said than done, of course, because the implication of legacy infrastructure combined with new digital solutions can create additional complications. But that’s the reality – good remote working operations have a streamlined process for just about everything.

The importance of socialization

Remote work and socialization sound contradictory. But we need to accept the reality (and benefits) of online interaction. Of course, it’s not quite the same as physical proximity, and – in my opinion, at least – should never be a direct replacement.

However, there is a great deal of the value of interaction where it would never be possible in the first place. You can’t replicate the “watercooler,” and you shouldn’t try to. Rather it’s better to take advantage of the online aspect. Interaction between staff and management helps them feel both welcome and like they aren’t disconnected from the business. That doesn’t mean require and demand forced meetings, but, having channels and ways for everyone to talk with each other is a big advantage in remote set ups.

Remote work solutions will, if trends continue, rise in the coming years. That’s why it’s so important to start establishing healthy remote work practices and culture to get the most out of the services.

­-Douglas James

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