Do you know that remote working requires different skills?

“Great remote leaders create simple processes that can manage the work asynchronously instead of having online meetings all the time.” – Liam Martin

After working remotely for almost a year, I still find people trying to transfer what they do in-person online. e.g. asking people to “socialize” on video conferences. It doesn’t matter which video conference tool you use, you will not be able to hear what people are saying when multiple people are talking at the same time. Our environment has changed, so should we. 

I wrote “Meeting as usual? Think again” back in April. I mentioned we should only call for a meeting when we need real time interaction and communication. I also mentioned that having remote facilitation skills is crucial. In-person facilitation skills are only a subset. Do you know remote facilitations do not end when the meeting ends? We need to have a remote-first mindset and remote facilitation embodies that. What does that mean?

  1. Do everything intentionally.
    • Instead of putting another meeting on the calendar, figure out if you can achieve the purpose offline. Then make sure to facilitate those asynchronous interactions. 
    • If we indeed need a meeting, then every minute in the meeting needs to be purposeful. Don’t just plan the content. We also need to plan everything around it, including all the interactions and activities. 
    • Plan activities that would help people connect with themselves, with each other, and with the purpose of the meeting, instead of just doing ice breakers.
  2. Ensure everyone in the meeting can participate equally well. This is part of what inclusion means in remote working. Here are a few examples.
    • For people who do not have access to reliable high-speed internet, they would not turn on the video when they join meetings. Then, how can we ensure they can still participate instead of being silent listeners? How do we know they are participating? (it is possible!)
    • When choosing a collaboration tool to use during a meeting, make sure the tools are mobile friendly, because not everyone joins the meetings via a computer or has high power computers. So, choose tools that do not require too much power to operate, and they do not require the attendees to switch too many windows. Remember, turning on cameras already uses power and bandwidth. 
    • Be mindful when planning physical activities. Keep in mind that simple physical activity may be difficult for people who have physical ailments that you do not know about.

#1 and #2 above are not new. Unfortunately, most of us don’t think about it and tolerate these poor practices when we’re in-person. So, please don’t just transfer everything you do in-person online. Instead, be intentional, do everything with purpose and use this unusual time to change those poor practices into better ones.

“Remote work turns on the light and shines very bright on the bad practices of an organization that have existed there, with or without remote work, so that people can see them and improve them.” – David Heinemeier Hansson

What has been your experience with remote working in 2020? I’d love to hear from you. Drop me a note below.

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