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Remote work for those who do not know how to work remotely

Recently, we have a great deal of companies in the world that, for obvious reasons, are trying to get used to the idea of remote work. And this is how they try to operate. If they have not had any experience with it before, they usually do it wrong.

Remote work – you are welcome

Recently, a friend of mine made this accurate comment:

(…) some companies collided with reality. XXI century force shift. And suddenly it turns out that “remote work” is something that is in the “possible to implement” category.

It could not be more accurately expressed. It turns out that remote work is something that, indeed, is possible to implement. You just had to look at it more closely.

But I would go a little further with all of this.

Recently I got my hands on an e-mail from one of the companies operating so far according to the mantra: “remote work – impossible”. It was sent to all employees.

I will not quote the whole e-mail, that is not the point. Let me paraphrase it, or better, describe the message. Well, an HR manager wrote that due to the coronavirus spreading in the country, company X increases the number of remote work days available to office workers from two or three a month to twelve. All interested parties are invited to submit applications on the employee portal. Then something completely incomprehensible about care and sickness benefits, something about some paper (sic!), declarations, Social Insurance forms. And at the end of the news, of course, the legal basis.

It couldn’t have been done worse.

Oh, and of course, they also informed that direct supervisor is fully responsible for the results of an employee working remotely.

My bad – it could have been done worse.

Time to face it

Introducing the remote work model to the organization – no matter if permanently or temporarily – is a very big change.

First of all, it is the people managing the organization that should be aware of this (which they often do not do!). And when they realize it, they should take appropriate steps to ensure that the introduction of this new model goes smoothly and without losing the quality of work.

Remote work differs significantly from working in the office, especially in organizations with a traditional approach to management.

What every managing person in the context of remote work must realize:

Remote work – how to introduce it to the company?

First things first. They need to understand what remote work is about and what is involved. The fish rots from the head down. If among the people running the company there is no full conviction and faith in the success of this model, nothing will come of it.

But let’s suppose that this belief already exists at the highest levels of the organization. What’s next? – We proceed to the preparations:

Ok, let’s assume we have everything ready. So let’s start implementing the changes:

And here again – there will probably be additional, specific points for specific organizations. But again – it’s determined on a case by case basis.

Remote work – for an employee

And finally, something the least obvious of all.

People managing companies in the traditional model often forget about what is the most important part in all of this: the employee. They can use unknown, eloquent, sublime – or on the contrary, loose-blues – words to articulate how extraordinary and modern they are. But if they forget the employee, they may just as well talk to a brick wall – outcome will likely be the same.

An employee with 10, 20, 30 years of experience in organizations where he was ordered to be in the office at 8 a.m., 15 km from home, washed, shaved, combed and ironed, will not know what to do with himself when suddenly someone will tell him to become modern now and work in a pajama. People who have had to come to the office at a certain time all their lives to nail the card and go to work there are simply not able to work remotely in the world. And they need to learn this remote work.

And the role of management board is to introduce such a work culture in the organization so that people working in the remote work model can work at least as well as in an office. The role of the change manager is to introduce a training path that will allow individual managers to learn such a model of work. And the role of managers at subsequent levels is to teach their subordinates what remote work is.

This is teamwork. Without it, the employee will feel lost, and from the perspective of the organization, he will be inefficient.

The most important elements that should be taken care of by employees working in a remote model:

I also recommend that you read the materials about people who have learned the ropes and know how to work remotely and are willing to share their experiences. Certainly, ladies and gentlemen from companies such as Nozbe, Buffer or Basecamp have a lot of wise things to say about it.

Do you need more information?

Let me know, I’ll be glad to help.

After all, remote work is often related to the transformation of offline business to an online business or at least a hybrid model.


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