Photo by Vidar Nordli-Mathisen on Unsplash

Our Work-from-Anywhere Future and How Big Companies Make it Work

Embracing remote work as a permanent fixture all seems too hard for some companies at the minute.

Before you push send on the company-wide announcement asking everyone back to the office, let’s look at the research you can trust. Harvard Business studied global companies such as GitLab, Zapier, Tata Consultancy and WordPress, who embraced remote work models, addressing common concerns and emerged with several best practices.

Let’s dive in:

Communication, brainstorming, and problem-solving evolves digitally.

The research is clear; asynchronous communication is prioritised.

Working from anywhere organisations invest in digital whiteboards, docs and chat infrastructure to make this work. The pressure to present polished work is removed, and instead, employees collaborate, ask questions and share ideas in a trust-based approach.

GitLab calls this “blameless problem-solving”.

Overcoming the knowledge sharing problem with better documentation and transparency.

Research shows initiatives to codify knowledge online.

For knowledge to flow in distributed teams, these companies prioritise transparent, easily accessible documentation and have introduced ways to record video seminars, meetings and important events. Yes, it might feel like more documentation for your people, but it only gives this good discipline the attention it deserves.

Social, camaraderie, and mentoring is possible.

Another worry for leaders is the loss of social connection amongst people.

The research shows good policies, virtual water coolers, online communities and asynchronous Q&A’s across the entire Org work. As part of the research, a number of the companies placed great importance on in-person co-location events.

It also encouraged remote communities of practice for those in shared regions.

Performance and compensation get sharper focus.

Performance becomes about outcomes and regular feedback.

All remote companies highlighted shifting their focus to evaluate their people for the quality of their output, their interactions in virtual settings, ongoing feedback from peers and client work. Performance is driven through regular check-ins.

Compensation is still an active and interesting debate, and the research showed that companies had different policies on this. Some focused on the same pay and roles regardless of location, while others differed based on geography.

So the transition is possible — leaders, over to you.

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Noel Dykes

Noel Dykes

Passionate about the intersections of great design, people and business. Founder @ www.frankli.io