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12.08.2020Bitesize

Bitesize – Exploring the concept of Remote First working

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Welcome to Bite Size – our bi-monthly blog where we explore a topic in bite size form – short, sharp and easy to digest

Last month, in a previous BiteSize, we wrote about how to create a Remote First working culture. The pandemic and lockdown have certainly forced companies across every industry to look at how to adopt a change in their work culture to a remote first working environment.

As we start to emerge from lockdown and restrictions are easing, many companies are now looking at more flexible ways of working but with an emphasis on remote first.

But what does this mean, how are companies managing it and were companies doing it before lockdowns were imposed?

For Quora, a user-based question and answer platform, they have shifted to a remote first work environment. Their employees can now work from anywhere they choose, even after the pandemic is over.

Adam D’Angelo spoke to The California’s Report last week saying, “remote work is going to be the primary orientation of the company. So, with basically every choice we have to make about how we do something at the company, we’re going to say, “What would we do in a world where every single employee was remote forever?” And we’ll make that choice.”

This means they are going to employ people across the world and allow them to relocate to anywhere the company is legally allowed to employ them. However, they are also accepting of the fact that a small minority of staff want to work from an office, so they are going to continue to allow them to do that.

Nationwide Insurance is also embracing the remote first approach. In March, they managed to shift 98 percent of the employee strength to work from home in a matter of 5 days. One of the main areas of concern was technical glitches but once they were ironed out, the company has been thriving.

“There has been no change regarding work, rather a vast improvement. It is working”, commented Kirt Walker, CEO, Nationwide Insurance.

It certainly looks like the shift to operate as a remote first oriented company has been accelerated by the pandemic. Suddenly, in a short space of time, leaders of companies have had to work out how to run a company remotely. There has also been a mindset shift within employees as they have learned that they prefer this style of working.

But there were companies who embraced the remote first working culture before they were forced to by the pandemic.

HubSpot was one such company with over 200 employees working remotely in 2019. In fact, remote work was becoming so valuable to prospective employees that the second-most searched word on HubSpot’s career page was “remote”. HubSpot found the key to successful remote work was establishing a routine that allowed employees to effectively complete different tasks whilst allowing them to keep work and home life separate.

Being clear on their employees work and life-related schedules and setting vital boundaries for teams added to their success. These strategies kept workdays productive and helped their remote first approach to thrive. If you would like to read more about the research on working remotely, visit Owls Lab’s page including extensive data.

But even though there seems to a consensus that remote first is here to stay, there are areas of concern that companies need to address. Balance when working from home is key especially as the initial few months of lockdown saw an incessant stream of video conferences and calls that soon led to fatigue and ‘Zoomitus’. Employees also need to understand where their boundaries lie at home especially as they juggle (or have juggled) homeschooling, domestic chores and relationships with housemates or family members.

Finally, it is important not to overlook the isolation working from home can create. Luckily, as the world starts to open up again, home confinement is not as strict and the balance between work and life can become more manageable.

With everyone from global companies, corporations or SMEs supporting the remote first working model, the revolution to transform the global work culture is gaining momentum, establishing an alternative working model for employees worldwide.

If you would be interested in taking the conversation further and addressing your own challenges or ideas about remote first in your company, make sure you sign up for PRIME TIME. Prime Time is a weekly 30-minute virtual exchange to discuss a pre-defined leadership topic, to share ideas, approaches and solutions. August’s PRIME TIME will be on every Thursday of the month, 12:00-12:30 CET

We look forward to seeing you online,

The CLP Team

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