CEO and founder of Remote Job van der Voort has a message for all of us still adapting to working and managing from home – being forced to learn to operate remotely might be a blessing in disguise.
Once the VP of Product at GitLab, another fully-remote organization, Job was so passionate about empowering people to work from anywhere that he left to start a company that specializes in helping other businesses go remote. In this episode, he tells us why – and the lessons all managers can learn from managing remote.
Why it matters
Being able to manage a team well in person is already a big challenge, but in the past year, many of us have been introduced to another layer of complexity: Trying to do it all over Zoom.
What Job has learned, though, is that it’s a mistake to simply replicate what we did in the office for our new remote environments – we need to rethink everything.
Many of us have learnt, for example, that the awkwardness of interjecting on Zoom makes us a little less able or likely to pipe up in meetings. And what about those spontaneous watercooler moments when you build personal connections or informally catch up with what your colleague is working on — what do we do when those disappear? When we don’t intentionally readjust our working styles and processes, we run the risk of misalignment among team members, disengaged teams, and erosion of culture.
Putting it into action
- Embrace it and be intentional. Redesign the remote working and managing experience from scratch rather than just copying what you did in the office.
For example, instead of just replicating the way you and your team communicated in the office, how would you rethink the format and frequency at which you communicate?
How would you redesign being a manager? Without the in-person interactions, how can you still build rapport and build strong relationships with your direct reports remotely? How do you know if someone is having a rough day if you can’t see or hear them?
How can you still maintain and build culture remotely? Take decision-making for example – seeing how senior leaders think and decide is an important signal of culture and values. How can we enable people to listen, learn, and read about how decisions were made even if they weren’t part of those discussions?
- Write more. Since a lot of interactions in the office are fundamentally about information sharing, we need to be more intentional about how we communicate in a clear way that’s accessible for all. Writing is key, whether it’s communicating big picture goals and vision or just letting someone know you have completed the work.
Reassess whether the meetings you’re having are really necessary or if they can be replaced with email, Slack, or other written communication.
- Consciously connect with colleagues on a personal level. In a remote environment, we’ll need to compensate for losing those little interactions in the office that help us build personal connections.
Set up virtual coffee chats or lunches with your direct reports. Start calls with a bit of socializing before jumping straight into business. Play games or engage in activities that your team can continue to bond over (Job says he sent all of his team members a VR headset so they can connect virtually!).
Share your insights & experiences
What has your experience been like working and managing from home? What’s different, and what’s the same? What have you learned that you have or will bring back to the office?
We‘d love to hear from you at [email protected]!