TOT 002: Remote Work Perfection
July 30, 2023
The technology field is primed to excel in a remote work environment. The tech you use is probably hosted somewhere else. The tech projects you work on are probably hosted in random data centers around the country.
Why shouldn’t you plop yourself anywhere you choose as well?
Fear and ignorance post covid are what is driving some companies and managers to reverse their work-from-home policies.
Effective leaders and managers know how to properly measure and evaluate work-from-home policies to ensure that people are working and still producing high-quality work.
I ran a 100% full remote team for 5 years. We had excellent reviews from the client as well as other internal management.
These steps proved the key to successfully running a remote workforce.
1. Each Team Member needs measurable outcomes.
Any employee hired has some sort of job description. The list of basic skills necessary to be successful in the role and possibly a few stretch goals for growth.
Each team member needs clearly defined measurable goals to know how they are performing. It should not be a surprise to anyone how well they are performing.
Some examples would be:
Help Desk personnel: Tickets handled, tickets closed, time to close a ticket
Software developer: Code successfully deployed, # of bugs solved
The key is to have outcomes that have deadlines assigned to them. As a leader on the team, you probably have some idea of how long tasks should take.
One thing to remember is Parkinson’s Law which states that work will expand the available time.
2. A centralized dashboard to record and store business metrics.
Everyone on the team needs visible access to their business metrics and the standing and their teammates. Secrecy builds distrust. And public metrics allow other team members to help lower-performing co-workers increase their skills or call them out for slacking off.
No one wants to be a poor performer on a team. This is a gamification method that works. Keeping public score like in an NFL game.
There are plenty of project management tools to assist with tracking metrics. Trello has an easy-to-use card (kanban style), Asana, or something as simple as a Google sheet that the whole team has access to.
3. A public communication platform
There are plenty of tools for teams to work together to solve problems that are free.
Slack and Discord can function as public forums. Channels can be set up for specific projects and everyone can ask for help, provide input, or stay up to date on the latest information regarding the project.
4. A one-to-one communication platform
Managers do need a way to communicate one-to-one with their team at times. You have your old faithful technology such as Zoom or direct message via Slack or Discord.
Critical information regarding performance should not be done via text or instant messaging.
If you are leading the team, you need to have the spine to speak to the person at a minimum over the phone or better yet with video conferencing. Then follow up in writing as a recap of the discussion that you had.
5. (If necessary) No more than quarterly team events on company hours and dime (no forced fun)
Culture is an overused term in companies. Simply put, don’t be an ass, and do your job. That’s to everyone up and down the organizational chart.
But if circumstances allow, team get-togethers can be fun, and the team will typically enjoy each other’s company.
But no one likes forced fun.
No more than 4 meetups per year. It should be during work hours and on the company dime.
6. Avoid tracking motion—track results.
Activity is not the same thing as producing results.
If you find yourself caught up looking at online indicators such as being online with Slack or MS Teams stop. Your teams perform better when they feel trusted and have some level of ownership over the work they do.
Constantly feeling as if they are being watched is counterproductive to getting good results. It just gets someone in motion with no regard for quality or focus.
7. Stop tracking the clock (unless you have to)
There are plenty of jobs that require someone to be on for designated time periods. Working at a help desk is one of them. For a help desk role, it is important that someone is ‘clocked in and out’ at designated times and is available.
But for many other positions, the time spent on a job is irrelevant to the position and the skill level of the individual. Network engineers may be forced to do work after hours, software developers deploy live code to production on off times. Special projects come up requiring more time.
Don’t worry as much about the time that is spent doing a job vs the outcome.
Find the right balance of deliverables that maximizes work hours.
Implement Step 2 to solve this problem.
That’s all for today.
See you next week.