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In late 2009, I spent 3-4 months looking for a job. I secured a handful of interviews but received zero job offers. So instead of looking for a job, I built one and started my company, Cloud for Good, in 2010. As our business and demand grew, I started hiring people, but I wasn’t working out of a tech center, and finding local Salesforce talent was a challenge.
I’ve helped create positive change through technology for nonprofits and higher education institutions across the United States and Canada. What was the point of limiting my search for supporting talent to my backyard? I went back to remote work and haven’t looked back since.
Cloud for Good has been operating as a distributed (I use the word distributed and not remote because we don’t have an office space) workforce since day one. Fast forward to today, we have 200 full-time employees in 43 US states and 5 Canadian provinces. To succeed in this work environment, you should keep in mind some keys to success and some common mistakes to watch out for.
Related: Remote work is here to stay: Are you ready for the new way of life?
1. Remote work isn’t for everyone
Work is what you do, not where you are. Many individuals, and the companies they represent, have discovered during the pandemic that the office work experience cannot simply be transferred to a remote model. It takes a certain type of person to succeed in a remote environment, someone who is self-motivated and can excel without a supervisor looking over their shoulder. One must desire to thrive independently and have a meticulous dedication to time management.
The work experience in the office has a certain inherent structure, whereas the structure in a work experience at home must be carefully created and maintained. On the other hand, business owners considering moving to a remote work environment need to take stock of their people and assess their ability to transition to remote work.
Related: How leaders can make the most of remote work
2. How you make connections matters
Boarding and drop-off staff is essentially a very different ball game than the in-office game. How do you create connections in a remote environment? How do you create a culture and express your company’s core values with staff in different locations? How can you inform new employees about best practices and procedures within your company?
One must consider the nature of a remote or distributed environment and its unique impact on each person in the company. There should be a dedicated department designed to focus on integrating employees into the remote work environment and organically assimilating them into the larger company culture. Encourage connection through tools like Zoom and make sure that at least once a week you set aside time for all staff to join a central call where updates can be shared and staff can look each other in the eye. Allow your staff to create spaces for themselves through Zoom groups based on personal and professional interests. Remember to conduct regular engagement surveys to ensure that no one feels like they are operating in isolation.
Related: Why remote work should be non-negotiable
3. Be intentional about goals and objectives
Directly related to how your company remotely onboards and onboards is the importance of purposefulness as it relates to goals and objectives. Of course, every business prioritizes this, but it becomes even more critical in a remote culture. The expectations of each staff member should be clearly defined from the start. Ask yourself what success or failure looks like for each team member, not just the company.
How can you help put staff in the best position for success and how can that success be tracked? The remote work model does not benefit from a supervisor knocking on the door and checking in. Video communication platforms can skillfully facilitate these scenarios, but these conversations must be based on clear expectations.
Related: 4 Remote Work Transition Move to consider
4. Provide the necessary tools for success
Following the theme of setting expectations, it should be clear which tools are best for the job and which tools are appropriate to use at what time. Staff working from home need reliable and secure technology and reliable protocol to use technology effectively and efficiently.
Even something as simple as asking a question can become difficult, given the number of communication tools and methods available. Is it better to ask or notify the team on Slack? Should they post a comment in CRM or send an email? The waters get cloudy quickly, so have a solid protocol.
Related: Remote work stress is real. Here’s how you can help employees who have it
5. Remember the value of personal interaction
Even in a fully distributed organization, the value of centralization cannot be underestimated. Humans are social beings and we all desire connection. It is important that we, as business leaders, embrace the continued rise of remote working while understanding that the virtues of the traditional personal data model still apply.
Creating a personal connection helps complement the cost-saving benefits that overcome the barriers of remote work and reminds us that we are all connected in more ways than we realize. Whether you’ve embraced remote work or are considering a transition, there are always new challenges to overcome and new possibilities to unlock.
No matter where you are in your journey, keep these guidelines in mind to stay ahead of the curve and achieve success through remote work.