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  • Madeline Weiss, Director

Checklist: Leading in a Remote Working Culture

Are you grappling with how to approach post-pandemic working arrangements?

Are you wondering which arrangements will lead to the greatest productivity, innovation, engagement and sense of equity?

The answers will depend on such factors as your industry, staff preferences and roles, location, organization structure and culture, etc.

This checklist can help you ask the right questions to arrive at some answers for arrangements that can lead to success.

All arrangements should be assessed after implementation and adjusted over time.

The checklist begins with two assumptions:

1. Work can be accomplished remotely.

2. You want a culture characterized by experimentation and learning, flexibility and autonomy, collaboration, transparency, and focus on results.

Work Location and Arrangements

1. If your first reaction is to expect everyone who used to work from your offices to come back, question your reasons (i.e., that’s the way it’s always been done, the CEO expects everyone back in the office, you like to work in the office and expect others do as well).

2. What might you gain in goodwill if you gave people a choice of working at least part of the time remotely? What might you lose?

3. What might you gain if teams were organized such that they spent some days in the office (collaborating with colleagues in-person) and some days working remotely (doing primarily independent work)? What might you lose?

4. If the gains are likely to outweigh the losses, how could you organize work in teams so that in-office days were focused primarily on collaborating in-person and remote-working days were focused primarily on independent work?

Maximizing Remote Working Benefits

1. If some work will be conducted remotely, do remote workers have the right equipment to do their best work (ergonomic chairs, desks, computers, cameras, speakers)? If not, to what extent does it makes sense to help them upgrade their equipment?

2. How might you encourage remote workers to upgrade their skills and knowledge (e.g., offer on-line courses)?

Mitigating Remote Working Challenges

  1. Have you explored such asynchronous tools as Slack (delivering instant chat messages on the desktop or phone app to teams and individuals), Microsoft Teams, Google Documents, ServiceNow (workflow), Jira (bug tracking and agile project management), Github (software development hosting and version control)? What other tools have you explored?

  2. Have you explored such synchronous tools beyond telephones as video calls (Zoom, HoloPod, Imverse), online whiteboards (Miro, Stormboard, IPEVO Annotator, Limnu, MURAL), mixed reality programs (Sneek, Pukkateam)? What other tools have you explored?

  3. Have you established core hours (e.g., 8:00 am to 3:00 pm) in which everyone is expected to be available by email, phone, or Jabber?

  4. Are you requiring documentation (could be written, video, oral) where needed to make knowledge and expertise accessible?

  5. Are teams making full use of morning and/or end-of-day huddles to coordinate?

  6. Are you creating ongoing opportunities to sustain a sense of community (e.g., happy hours, coffee breaks, lunches, pizza parties, Slack tool that matches colleagues from different departments for short coffee dates)?

  7. Have you considered hot walls that connect home offices to large monitors connected to cameras and computers installed on office walls?

  8. Have you explored virtual reality platforms (e.g., VirBELA) to create a place for distant team members to gather in avatar form?

  9. Are you checking in regularly with staff working remotely?

  10. Are you holding weekly open office hours?

  11. How well are you recognizing the signs of burnout among remote workers and taking actions to address burnout (e.g., not publicly recognizing achievements due to excessive work hours, encouraging exercise)?

Leveraging Remote Working Opportunities

  1. Are you searching for staff with hard-to-find skills beyond your physical location (they can work virtually)?

  2. If you expect to work in a hybrid environment (staff in the office part of the week and working remotely part of the week), have you considered re-arranging office space to convert individual offices into collaborative space using hoteling arrangements?

Enhancing Successful Remote Working Culture

  1. How are you demonstrating that you value experimentation with emerging tools and practices for successful remote work?

  2. Are you seeking opportunities to give staff choices (e.g., team charters and ground rules)? Note: when people have choice, they manifest fewer adverse symptoms in stressful situations.

  3. How well are you designing processes that encourage collaboration?

  4. How well are you encouraging inclusion of differing perspectives?

  5. How many vehicles (formal and informal) are you using to communicate with staff so that everyone feels part of the organization and is knowledgeable about happenings?

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