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Remote Workers!

There have been a lot of discussions about remote work lately, due to IBM’s recent decision to reverse its flexible work policy. Its CEO Ginny Rometty claimed that the move was done to “improve collaboration” and “accelerate innovation.” oh sure.

Whether you work remotely, or not, there are advantages to both policies. Several executives are thinking that working on site is “the only way to increase productivity”…. NOT TRUE.

You can build great teams, have productive work relationships and get stuff done (!) remotely. First, you may have to become a bit of a “personal marketer”. It’s more than just “ask for what you want” from your manager, it is “BUILD A CASE for what you want. Make sure that you really want to work at home…. it can be great to have a different work environment. Besides, someone else fixes all the equipment and makes sure the office lights and heat work. If you still have your heart set on a remote work job, then read on!

Try these “best practices” to build a case to work remotely:

  • Make solid working relationships while you are on-site
  • Initially, spend a lot of time in face-to-face meetings
  • Become innovative or indispensable, create in your “tool kit” with a unique skill set
  • Does your work lend itself to very early time frames or early then later work time (another words “split shift”)?  This flexibility can be very appealing to employers
  • Discover advantages to your employer for You to work remotely
  • AFTER you have performed and produced the work products that are needed, you can start slowly –  discuss working 1-2 days a week remotely
  • Propose the idea early and set-up a gradual implementation
  • Make sure your clients (or work mates) know and trust you, and your work
  • Provide status on every project – often!
  • Have a dashboard of progress so that everyone knows where you are on each project (without asking!)
  • Check-in on the status / impressions of how the new schedule is working, address issues, make corrections
  • Deliver on-time
  • Communicate about obstacles or red-flags
  • Make sure to have a “proposed solution” to problems

When you have a Remote Team, you’ll need to build team member engagement to your meetings –

  • Hint #1: don’t make this a surprise, it will feel to random
  • Hint #2: explain why you are helping your teams bond!

Real life example: I had a manager in AZ that I never met, however, Ann B was a stellar manager. For three years, I felt that I knew her, enjoyed her meetings, and wanted to work for her.

Her Strategy to Engage

She implemented a one-page monthly newsletter for her team of 24 people (from different cities all over the USA). It included a team member highlight. It also had a picture of one of us, in a remote location and the question: Where am I? We’d have fun trying to guess. The next month the answer was posted. We learned a lot about each other and became a team over time.

She added a theme to each weekly status meeting. And finally, she added theme music to each meeting while we were waiting 2 minutes for everyone to join!

It seemed like  odd behavior …but the result was that everyone joined early to hear the song and guess why that related to the theme. It was fantastic fun and we had a laugh (for a minute). This type of team building worked. Ann knew that she had hired curious people and she worked to encourage that trait!

She also added a “guess the company stock price for the next week” game! That refocused us…. on our impact to the company…. and the winner got a $10 coffee card.

We worked hard for her, and connected solidly with the entire team, collaborating, asking for help and congratulating each other. We were a good team, we trusted each other and we were work friends!  This is a success story, of the highest magnitude. And you can do it too!

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