Whether it’s about achieving a healthier work-life balance, avoiding long and stressful commutes, or enhancing the productivity, working remotely has sure a lot of perks. Well, remote work is not a new concept. Microsoft has been practicing the same for over a decade. Let’s have an insight into how they work remotely.
1. When Experiment turns to Reality
Microsoft started Remote Work as an experiment when Scott Hanselman Principal Program Manager at Microsoft suggested it 11 years ago. According to him,
At that time, technology was still evolving, so remote work wasn’t as efficient. But today, anyone can work (or convince their employer to let them work) remotely.
An essential touchpoint for a smooth transition to remote work is to get organized. Moreover, being a remote worker, it is important to communicate at every step with one’s team. For instance, when getting the work done, they need to communicate the same to their team to enhance transparency.
When working remotely, ensure that the employees take full responsibility and ownership of their work and the team.
2. The Biggest Challenge of Working Remotely
The biggest challenge of working remotely is getting (and providing) feedback. Feedback in a remote environment is like an ‘executive air cover’. When the organization is on ‘the ground’, a defined feedback mechanism protects the organization and enhances its efficiency.
For instance, if a remote employee doesn’t communicate the tasks accomplished by him/her to their managers, they would never know if the employee was even working that day. Similarly, if an employee doesn’t provide feedback to his/her team, they wouldn’t feel valued by the organization. All of it leads to isolation!
3. Importance of an Organized Framework When Working Remotely
There are a lot of instances when ‘the remote work policy’ is abused. Some employees would take a whole week off, and travel and the manager would not have any sense of what they are doing.
It is understandable to take a mental health afternoon, but disappearing for a couple of days without talking to your boss isn’t something that the organization expects from its team. An ideal remote employee needs to be the ‘right amount of paranoid’ and be dedicated and highly organized in their everyday work life.
4. Evaluating Candidates for Remote Positions
“I highly believe in referrals when hiring remotely. Since the candidates come through someone I trust, it builds this transitive web of trust between the candidate and me. It is reassuring to know that the candidate has worked professionally with someone I personally know as it helps build credibility.”
But that’s not all. Proof of work is also a great way to evaluate candidates. There has been an immense evolution in technology, and everyone can present their past work and experiences virtually - which is an essential evaluation metric for hiring managers.
5. Time Zones and Communication Guidelines
We have to be conscious of everyone’s time zone. That’s big! - Hanselman
The teams at Microsoft communicate and collaborate efficiently because they have a specific time when everyone is online. It’s not a hard set rule but something that they collectively set as per everyone’s convenience.
For instance, a team member in New Zealand might be a day ahead of them. But the team works with them in a similar pattern to how they work with everyone else during that day at those set hours. Although some are a day ahead of them, yet they look at it like it’s only 3 hours to the left.
6. Dealing with Isolation When Working Remotely
Isolation can be a huge problem, especially in partially distributed teams. I’ve tried every possible way, even an iPad on a stick, and there is no good way for a remote worker to ‘bump into someone’ in the hallway. And this very disconnect leads to a feeling of isolation among remote workers. - Hanselman
The trick that they usually follow here is not to take things personally (like when someone would forget to invite someone to a meeting) and stay focused on work and their side of communication.
7. Drawbacks to Remote Work
According to Hanselman, the best analogy that comes up is that it is a disability - the disability of not stepping into an office every day.
For instance, it often happens that the in-office team members would forget to invite remote workers for a meeting. Them saying that “I forgot to invite you” feels like “I forgot you existed”. This disengagement can lead to higher dissatisfaction among the team members.
Being remote is great only when one has mastered the art of work-life balance.
For instance, when one looks at the privileges of being remote, there are many, like one gets to pick up his/her kids from school and spend time with family. But at the same time, one might be losing out on opportunities because he/she is not stepping in the office every day. If one spends half of the day making calls and figuring out what’s going on in the office, he/she will not be able to work to their full potential.
One has to find the right work-life balance when working remotely if he wants to focus and enjoy its perks.
In the coming years, most jobs & organizations will go remote. Hiring, on-boarding, company culture & entire operations will be a part of the virtual world.
As we reach closer to the future of work, it is essential for all of us to understand the remote work environment in-depth, not just as an organization but also as employees seeking flexible opportunities. Talking about flexible opportunities, Trello has been a game-changer in providing a flexible work culture to its employees.