While many CEO’s are battling employees working in pajamas or glued to Netflix, I have been pushing our team to continue our professionalism and even raise the bar on our work levels. With the advent of Stay at Home and Shelter in Place orders, some debate that “this is the new norm,” but I believe that there is now a recognition by companies to at least offer work from home flexibility in a seamless manner.  Corporate culture and leadership are foundational to making Work from Home effective.  Below are some considerations for putting a remote work model in place along with some challenges  I’ve heard from clients during these times with some possible solutions.
  1. Recruit. In our industry and other tech-oriented industries, it is very common to have remote employees, many who work from home on a regular basis. Vetting potential new hires on any past experience of working independently, organizational skills on how individuals structure their day, and what type of remote workspace is available to them are key things that I look at.
    • Challenge: We did not plan for this at the time of recruiting and trying to manage employees at home mid-employment has been very challenging.
    • Solution: Spend time with managers to coach them on people management skills.  Encourage managers to speak directly with team members 1-on-1 using these times to mentor each person on how structure their day in a way that works for them and their unique situation. Have managers set up frequent (short) check points with individual team members during the week to keep the lines of communication open and provide more individual coaching opportunities. In short, now managers have to develop the skill you would typically recruit for. 
  2. Trust. Have an inherent sense of trust in the air in which people will complete their deliverables — what they will be held accountable for, what meetings they should attend, their responsiveness to issues, completeness and quality of outcomes — while knowing they’re not being monitored on every move.  We communicate to each other if someone steps out for exercise or an errand, so we can maintain flexibility while being accountable. This requires a corporate culture and leadership that focuses results, not on the comfort of seeing someone physically in the office..  While this consideration applies to more than remote employees, it becomes elevated in a #WFH model.
    • Challenge: We struggle to trust our employees because we don’t know what they are doing and that bothers us.
    • Solution: The burden of the manager is to effectively explain and ensure expectations are fully understood.  Be clear about your expectations for each person’s availability and accessibility.  Ensure deliverable expectations are clear.   At Pacific Point we have people working in multiple time zones globally, so we have set an expectation that each person update their calendar with their planned start and end of their work day. We ask employees to update their calendar if they have to step away for a personal appointment. These actions set expectations company-wide on when they are fully accessible for calls or by chat.  Weekly status meetings, daily stand-up meetings are standard in our industry to focus on deliverable progress, but I recommend it to our clients as well within the framework of their team’s assignments.
  3. Connect. Over time, people can lose their sense of connection to the company and the rest of the team. Creating a community with moments of humor, sharing, and positivity always boosts our overall company spirit. We also share our success stories during All Hands meetings so everyone can take pride in the company and raise motivation levels.  It’s important to carve out extra time to connect with your employees and be empathetic.
    • Challenge: Creating connection is much easier in the office, but is more difficult when the team is at home.
    • Solution: Get creative!  I’m truly inspired by companies are doing cool and creative things virtually as a result of the stay-at-home orders. I just heard about a business group doing a winery tour and tasting virtually!  All group members were shipped bottles of wine, and the winery is facilitating the tasting and providing a virtual tour in real time.  For Pacific Point, we are gearing up to a fabulous GoToMeeting party on May 14th where packages will arrive at my employees house ahead of time. My hope is that creativity to connect with people will continue after the stay-at-home orders lift.
Behind every set of tools and technology is a person. In my recent podcast conversation with CEO Mark Concannon of Concannon Business Consulting, he shares,
“Yes, there are great (technology) tools. Find the pieces of technology that create passion for you. Pursue them, but remember, people are the point too. Getting the interpersonal skills can’t be lost just because technology is a passion for you.”
I couldn’t agree more.

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