The practice of remote teams has increased significantly in recent years. Companies of all sizes have discovered the benefits of telecommuting. However, despite the advantages of this working model and considering that the technology required for implementation is within reach in all companies, it is still not applied on a large scale.
At present, due to the COVID-19 crisis, many organizations have been forced to limit face-to-face contacts and, in many cases, this has increased the practice of teleworking. However, the lack of experience in this field has raised reservations or doubts about adopting this model.
From our experience, we hope to bring some light into the dark to those who are taking the first steps on this journey …
Before considering the technical or organizational needs to realize this model of remote work, we must evaluate the benefits it can bring us. No one will embrace a process of change if there is no clear motivation for it. In this case, beyond the special situation of confinement, we must be aware that working remotely will bring us the following benefits:
It is necessary to remember these benefits (and others that certainly can be identified by each organization) because when implementing it we will be seized by many doubts and fears about the success of the project.
For years, despite the advantages of telecommuting, most organizations were not able to consider this alternative because the necessary technology did not exist. Only if all workers had access to the Internet (and to a myriad of applications for collaborative work), the option of working as a team could be considered without the need to physically coexist in the same facilities.
Over the last ten years, technology has provided us with a wide range of tools that allow us to work remotely, achieving results similar to those we would achieve if this same work were done in the on-site mode: Google Drive, Dropbox, Slack, Teams, Trello, Zoom or Skype are some of the tools that we all have at our disposal and that help make remote collaborative work a reality.
The culture of the company is not limited to Monday meetings, coffee room conversations or direct supervision of the work done. Culture is what people do, not what is written on a poster hanging on the office walls.
Consequently, this model does not change the culture of the organization per se. What it does relentlessly is to question and modify some of the traditional work paradigms (schedules, supervision…). Curiously, the more solid a culture is and the more deeply rooted the values of the organization are, the easier it will be to adapt to a teleworking model.
At the time of implementation, it will be necessary to define the rules of the game for each of these meetings. Although these first meetings are unlikely to be memorable, once consolidated, these contacts will be more efficient than in on-site mode.
We should not be surprised by saying that accessibility to the rest of the team is not so easy in a telework model. This small barrier that makes communication difficult has an effect that, in this case, is very positive: in remote work, the interruptions due to “emergencies” that occur unexpectedly are greatly reduced, e.g. those that begin with a “now that I remember…”, “do you have a minute?” or “Since I see you around…”.
In any case, for the implementation of a remote work model, the system must be adapted so that a large part of the work can be executed asynchronously.
Consequently, if we have made a bad decision in hiring a person who systematically shuns his responsibilities, these behaviours will occur in both an on-site and a remote working model. In this case, the dilemma that comes up is not limited to the remote or on-site work format, but has a deeper focus that affects the role of our managers: do we need police officers or leaders to guide our remote teams?
In any case, this point should not be an impediment to remote work either because, currently, there are systems that allow us to monitor the activity of our remote staff.
It is obvious that the transition from a model of on-site work to a model of teleworking requires changes at the organizational level that affect the routines and rituals of the company. But it is also essential that, at an individual level, the employee adapts this work system to a new reality.
For all the reasons explained, remote teams has advantages for both the company and the staff. But please consider that it is not a black-and-white decision.
It´s the ideal situation when employees have the responsibility to decide any time how to best perform their work best and also the autonomy to do so.
If you want us to help you to facilitate a culture of remote work in your teams, contact us and we will align all the necessary factors to make it happen.
In addition, we invite you to subscribe to our digital collaboration guide and remote work so that you know in detail the five keys that make it possible remote teams and you can acquire tools and knowledge to accompany yourself on these days when digital collaboration is more than ever necessary.