This is the third post in a series of blogs taking you through “A Day in the Life of a Fuzer,” focused on how people communicate and how technology shapes their day-to-day experiences in the workplace
It seems remote work is on track to win ‘topic of the year’ in 2016. Employees are demanding it, companies are trying to figure out how to support it, and studies are finding it benefits workers and employers alike.
If people are more productive when working remotely, what do companies have to lose?
Building a company culture by fostering employee relationships and a strong sense of community has historically been tied to a single office location and design. More recently, culture has relied heavily on a centralized, corporate campus or hub servicing everything imaginable in life, including work.
Few would argue the benefits of bringing people together in one place to create a vibrant, corporate culture, but “place” is the operative word here. Brands are blurring the lines between the physical and the digital, tapping the latest technology platform to complement and support in-person interaction. The result is a more dynamic work environment that can scale and accommodate productivity, whenever and wherever. While not all companies are saying farewell to their headquarters, many are supporting flexible work policies for distributed teams, and more are saying “yes” to hiring remote workers outright.
The trend presents new opportunities and new challenges for the modern workforce. We’re just now starting to see how companies are reacting and responding as employees settle into new ways of getting things done outside the confines of an office’s four walls.
How can remote workers avoid some of the pitfalls of physical separation? Here are some thoughts to make remote work, work for you:
- Find ways to virtually connect with coworkers. Did you love grabbing coffee with coworkers during the midday slump? Opt for a video “coffee date” instead. Grab your favorite mug and set aside some time – it doesn’t have to be long – so show someone that you’re invested in getting to know them better. It’ll make assignments progress and ideas flow more smoothly, when you make the extra effort up front.
- Check in appropriately. In a physical office, it’s easy to drop by someone’s cubicle to see how things are going. This exchange is informal and it can spur new thinking. Remember the last time someone popped their head over your cubicle? They probably shared some little tidbit of knowledge or asked “What if…?”. Don’t let those opportunities pass while working remotely. Email can sometimes feel too formal, so messaging is often the best mode of communication to echo the “water cooler” experience. But if something gets lost in translation, don’t hesitate to elevate a chat over to a voice or video call. By embracing these moments to connect, you’re getting the same value from your teammates that you would in person.
- Get in front of them. Video conferencing is a remote worker’s best friend. When things start to get lonely, opt for some face-to-face time. Is your place a mess? Don’t stress. Having a bad hair day? Get over it. The more you make yourself present, the quicker you’ll see that modern technology can bring people together in as many ways as you’re open to. Make it a habit, and be sure people stick to it. It’ll foster a positive group environment and keep you tuned into your team’s strengths and contributions, its concerns or reservations, and the group’s overall dynamic. Don’t miss the opportunity to hear what someone’s not saying, by being able to see body language and visual cues.
Remote work is a new frontier for many organizations today. While they figure out where they stand, safe to say it has cemented itself as one of the biggest workplace stories of the year, forcing the C-suite and HR teams to align policies and invest in technology that will enable distributed teams to continue being productive for the business. What’s more, it stands to serve as a big discussion point surrounding future-of-work.
Create new habits now: habits that will set your brand up for success, whether managing remote worker(s), spending part of your days logging in remotely, or working entirely offsite, you’ll be in a position to really embrace remote work and stay ahead of the new realities unfolding. The future of your company depends on it.
What else do modern workers have to navigate today? Take a walk through A Day in the Life of a Fuzer to find out.