The facts of (remote working) life
Right now, I’m effectively remote working in our London office from New York – fielding creative work back to the core team in the UK as we get ready to start hiring local talent here in the US.
It’s only been 3 months and I’ve already picked up plenty of insights into the challenges and opportunities that come with this way of doing things. Here then are my top four considerations:
It’s hard to find focus time in a busy office because interruptions are everywhere. The opposite of this is true when working remotely – which sounds great, but it has its drawbacks too.
Having lots of thinking time all in one chunk over one or several days can leave all sides feeling a little disconnected, and can actually be mentally exhausting. So spread your check-ins and catch-ups across the week to give yourself a varied ‘diet’ of work each day.
This can help to mitigate the feeling of missing out on office conversations which, though they can feel trivial in the moment, are actually great for your productivity and wellbeing.
When the majority of a meetings attendees are in one location with remote workers joining via speakerphone, all of the conversation’s non-verbal nuances are lost. The people dialing in miss all the nods of approval, frowns of disapproval and no indication when a speaker is directing their comments at specific people.
I use video for everything – I Hangout with coworkers, and Zoom with teams – and whilst there is most definitely an art to good video conferencing, the most important thing is simply to use it.
One of the challenges of being removed from the rest of the team is that you miss out on the conversations that happen just after the video call has ended, and these conversations give you an indication of how everybody is feeling.
A few months back, at a talk given by Bruce Daisley, I heard about a study that found remote workers can experience higher levels of stress, in part, because they believe their colleagues hate them – such can be the paranoia that comes from being separated from the group.
So whether it’s managing someone directly, feeding back on a meeting or debriefing a project: make more time to do this than you normally would.
There is often some apprehension about having people working in different time zones, but if you get into the right rhythm it can extend your team’s working day without anyone having to work extra hours – what’s not to like!
This means I can work till the end of my day here in New York, hand over to my colleagues in the London office, and by the time I’ve woken up, it’s all done. And as for briefing creative teams, feedback given on the evening can be fixed by the morning.
The key to making this work is by having good planning at the beginning and strong communication throughout – so that everyone is always on the same page.
I will no doubt have plenty more to share on this topic in future blog posts, as our stateside team grows and the challenges and opportunities we encounter continue to evolve. In the meantime, you can always drop us a line or find us on twitter.
[Header photo: NASA on Unsplash]