Remote work is more effective and makes employees happier (just google it), but why aren’t more companies doing it then? In my opinion – ☠️ FEAR 👻.. If you are the kind of manager that embraces challenges and ready to step out of your comfort zone, then here are some first steps towards building a highly productive and happy remote company!
1. Burn all the bridges and go 100% remote.
The majority of companies start out as more traditional and then go remote (I’m guessing). There is a right way to do it and the fearful way. The fearful way: let some employees be remote for a few days a week to “test it out” and then slowly give more people the same option. It doesn’t work! This just makes these remote work days seem like extra vacation, and the actual decision-making is still done back in the office.
To test it out, go fully remote for a month. Don’t allow any of the employees to come to the office and see how you all can figure out new ways to communicate and get used to the new dynamic. It will be weird, it will be hard at first, but it will step in the right direction.
But the Pro version – burn all the bridges and go fully remote. Everybody, starting tomorrow. It’s a matter of how quickly you like to take off a bandage. Some prefer the quick and painful way, some prefer to drag it out over a longer period of time.
2. Embrace being the provider… of the right tools.
Make sure you have subscribed to all the tools that make communication, planning and overall work in a remote company possible. As a manager, providing all the right tools is your responsibility. Here are some quick recommendations to get you started:
Slack – all the communication happens here. Set it up, make it work.
Toggl Plan – transparent team planning, either for daily tasks or long-term projects….or both.
Toggl Track – time tracking tool that shows you how productive the newly remote team is being.
Google Drive – all the documents, a place to store goals and keep track of the KPIs.
Do you really need anything more to get an overview of your team’s work time?
3. Make weekly water cooler chats mandatory.
Just because you don’t have that office water cooler anymore, the chats can’t stop. It’s actually really important to work on a remote company culture. Things don’t fall into place in that department as easily as it happens in an office.
So set up a Slack chat that is meant for sharing funny videos, random daily thoughts and office banter. Also, make sure everyone knows that it’s now part of the job description to contribute something to this chat as well.
In addition to that, schedule a time for a company-wide video conference once a week. To get you started: ask one person to do a presentation about a work related topic and another person about a personal topic (hobbies, pets, dream travel destinations, etc. ) and everyone else should watch, ask questions and comment in the chat. This is just one way of keeping the remote team connected, but it has worked wonders for us.
4. Agree on KPIs and set goals.
Okay, so how do I know any work gets done? Easy – focus on results only. Agree with every department/team/person on what is their KPI (key performance indicator). For some teams or employees, there might be more than one, but never let it be more than 3. The focus has to be clear, and there has to be a numerical goal agreed upon too. After you have done this, you don’t really care if somebody is working 8 hours a day (which btw is bullshit anyway, you can rarely do over 6 hours of productive work in a day. I know, I Toggld it), you just follow up how people are progressing with their KPIs.
The approach is very black & white. It doesn’t allow anyone to hide between busy-work, only results matter.
5. Let go of control and guilt….and enjoy the ride!
This is usually the hardest part for CEOs – letting go of the mystical control, you think you have when you see people rolling into the office at 8 am and leaving at 5 pm. Let it go, let it go (sing it along)!
Instead, you should control the new remote environment. Does everyone have proper hardware and software for getting work done? Do we have agreements on all the KPIs and goals? Are we following up on those every week/month? Is my team thriving in the new remote environment and what can I do to make them succeed with their goals?
Also, let go of the guilt of sleeping in, now that you are working from the home office. It doesn’t matter. Results matter and results aren’t the byproducts of sitting at one place from 8-5.
NB: These recommendations are based on one isolated experience, and I must admit, we started out with just going fully remote and winging it from there. Made some mistakes along the way, but it was so worth it. Hopefully, this post motivates someone out there to take on the same journey of going from the office to fully remote and skip some mistakes with these tips.