Key Highlights

  • Companies as large as Microsoft and as small as Key offer suggestions about making remote work more effective, efficient and with more connectivity with colleagues, teams and clients
  • Need to build type of culture that successfully supports remote working

Remote working, for many of us, may be the new normal at least some of the time. Businesses that have changed the ways they work, rather than simply repeated or replicated the same ole’ conventions, have have had more success.

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What do the more successful remote working companies have in common?

  • They have fewer meetings that are large, long or back-to back.
  • They have designated meeting-free time for focused work.
  • They offer flexible work hours.
  • They find “new” ways for workers to socialize when they’re not seeing each other “in person.”
    • Online chats are encouraged
    • Social video meetings, such as lunch-time meetings, are encouraged
  • They “try” to discourage workers from believing they always have to be available.

Here are four things executives and researchers encourage owners, executives and workers to change in order to maximize the effectiveness of remote working:

  1. Designate time for work and non-work despite the fact that people are always in their “office.”
    • Reserve time for both collaborative and independent work.
    • Focus on work that is accomplished rather than the time spent logged in to work.
    • Create rituals that start and end the work day.
    • Make it clear that messages do NOT have to be answered immediately.
  2. Judge the performance, not the schedule.
    • Managers/team leaders need to be clear about expectations and when the work is “due.”
    • Forget about the “how” of the work and leave the how up to the worker.
    • Forget about following the traditional 9-5 schedule.
  3. Slash meetings
    1. Only keep the NEEDED meetings.
    2. Replace less essential meetings with some sort of Slack or Facebook meeting.
    3. Make meetings optional and provide detailed notes for those who are unable to attend.
    4. Keep meetings limited both size-wise and time-wise.
    5. Have breaks in between meetings.
  4. Connect colleagues, team members, support staff and clients – include everyone.
    1. Without daily contact, workers tend to reach out to only the people they know the best.
    2. Without daily contact, workers tend to feel excluded and lonely.
    3. Encourage video chats and even sending cards/letters in the mail to workers someone already knows or to someone new.
    4. Set up frequent meetings among mentors and mentees, team members and team leaders, team members and support staff and individual agents and clients on a regular and consistent basis so everyone can plan and schedule that time for connectivity.
    5. Call co-workers “merely” to check in on a regular and consistent basis.

Some of these suggestions you may already be doing…great! Others may seem to be too hard or too time consuming…they’ll become easier and more efficient just by doing them repeatedly and consistently over time.

Looking down the road a bit, it’s likely remote working will be with us for a long time and, for many of us, we may never go back to working like we “used” to do. These suggestions may improve the quality and efficiency of your remote working for both the short- and long-term.


Thanks to Microsoft, Martha Shaughnessy of Key, La’Kita Williams of CoCreate Work and The New York Times.

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