In March this year I joined Herrmann, a 100% remote company. It was exciting but also a little bit daunting as I have never worked for a remote company before. Taking into consideration that I am based in South Africa while the leadership team and most of my colleagues are based either in the US or the UK, it all felt very new to me, and I really did not know what to expect, especially when it came to what remote onboarding would be like.
As the virus has swept its way across the planet, people from all walks of life, families from every region, and businesses large and small have all had to adapt to change. The most common change, and the most likely one to be affecting you right now, is adjusting to any social distancing measures you're taking or a shelter-in-place mandate from your government, which has likely resulted in you staying at home. For many companies, it's also led to remote-working measures being set in place.
In some form or fashion, working virtually has quickly become the reality for most of us today. And whether you’re working with colleagues, customers, vendors or others, there are more tools and apps than ever to help you collaborate across any distance, whether it's across the country or even across the globe.
But no matter how many tools and devices you have, effective collaboration still comes down to how effectively the parties communicate with each other. Particularly when you don’t always have the advantage of visual cues, tone of voice, or cultural nuances, the chances for miscommunication are high.
Here are 4 steps for making sure your communications get across in the way you intended, no matter what technology you use (these can even useful for when you’re communicating in person):
Note: This post was written pre-COVID-19. However, the engagement tips are extremely relevant and the team wanted to reshare! For more tips, check out the rest of our remote work blog series here.
We made a big move at the end of 2016. After three decades in our headquarters, Herrmann went completely virtual.
This virtual workplace reflects the increasingly global and dispersed nature of our organization—even here in the U.S., many of our employees are scattered across states and time zones. At the same time, technology is offering more ways than ever for people to stay connected and interact with each other, whether they’re in the same building or not.
But we also recognize that you can’t just flip a switch and expect everything to continue business as usual. So we’ve been approaching this move from a Whole Brain® perspective: The goals and objectives are clear (A quadrant), and we’re keeping our eye on the future (D quadrant), but we also have to prepare for the journey (B quadrant) and keep people engaged every step of the way (C quadrant).
In the last few weeks, there's been a lot of content floating around focusing on what it means to work remote.
But one thing that many of these articles have assumed is that even if everyone isn't working at the same place, they're all working at the same time. Once you've given up all going to the same office, it's worth asking, do you even need to keep the same office hours? As a manager, can you effectively manage people through asynchronous communication, team members who aren't even online at the same time as you?
I used to get up, get ready for the day, watch the news, and drive half an hour to the office. But about three years ago I found myself doing more and more from home. The rest of my team were in other locations in the country, so why was I spending all that time, gas, and wear and tear on my cute little car?
So I created a mini-office in a corner of my spare bedroom. Now, I get up, get ready for the day, watch the morning news, and then trek all the way to the other end of the house and get to work.
At Herrmann, we believe that a successful and comprehensive talent onboarding program is fundamentally important to the success of our new talent. We believe that a strong foundation in who we are, our history, our organization, our vision and our future, set up our new talent for continued success throughout their onboarding journey. We lay this foundation by having the first week of our onboarding led by our Talent team.
A little over a decade ago, the remote workforce was dominated by people in outside sales roles. They came into the office on occasion for meetings or, if they were local, to load up on marketing brochures and office supplies. But for the most part, they were out of sight.
Herrmann employees have worked remotely for years. Our experience with remote work has been very positive. There are some key advantages in terms of how one can manage ones workflow and work without distractions. That's not to say that a hard turn into remote work will be an easy transition.
Remote environments can be challenging to navigate under normal circumstances. Add in a global environment of stress and uncertainty, and those relationships and engagements can be even more difficult to manage.