Back in March 2020, when more than 40 percent of Americans began commuting to their kitchen tables and makeshift home office nooks, few believed they'd still be there now, nearly a year later. And yet, here we are. The big question looming in many employees' and leaders' minds alike is, what does it all mean for the future of work? Some argue that the great work-from-home experiment of 2020 will lead to the end of offices forever. Whatever the outcome, here are 5 remote work lessons 2020 taught us, on making working from home work better.
Lesson 1 - Get more intentional about the things you do.
Be thoughtful about how and when you create space between you and your work. For instance, if commuting used to be a crucial way for you to gather your thoughts at the beginning and end of each day, recreate that ritual by going for a walk before you jump into work - and then again after you finish. These "pauses" are key to helping you switch contexts during the day.
Lesson 2 - Hone your relationship building skills
Zoom and other remote meeting apps serve their purpose but they cannot, on their own, truly make colleagues feel connected. What's missing is a genuine interest in and care for one another as human beings. Reflect true interest in the people you work with. Instead of simply going through the motions and ticking boxes in remote meetings, build a relationship that is empathy-centered, which is crucial no matter what the work arrangement.
Lesson 3 - Show your team you trust them
Working together effectively works only when you actually have faith that your teams can get their jobs done, wherever they are. This may require a shift in leadership style if you previously put a lot of stock in seeing your people do their jobs in the office.
If you're already thinking you're going to need to address or establish a remote work policy in the future, here's a suggestion: Keep it simple. Don't obsess with the particulars of how and when and what to do with unusual situations
Lesson 4 - Make writing skills your new superpower
While email and other real-time communication apps can be useful tools, they're only as effective as the messages they contain.One of the easiest ways to up your collaboration game is to focus on how you use the written word: If you're explaining how something is done, are the steps clear and easy to follow? If you're giving feedback, how will your tone be perceived? If you're establishing a new relationship, are you conveying trust and confidence? These questions all become more important when you're not right in front of someone.
Lesson 5 - Find out what individual employees need
Maybe it's time to revise your perks and benefits and adjust them to the new normal, such as adding stipends for virtual fitness and wellness classes and meditation and sleep apps. If people are struggling with feeling like they always need to be "on," consider no-meeting days and create clear guidelines around digital availability company-wide. The goal here is to head off burnout before it becomes a problem.
Read Top 5 Remote Work Lessons Learned in 2020 in its entirety here.
See other posts from our blog on remote collaboration and leadership here.
David, This is very important. As Simon Sinek points out in the Infinite Game, real leaders show up not when things are going well, they show up during adversity. They learn and apply and grow. Thanks for capturing these lessons. I invite your readers to capture their own with their teams.