In my interviews, I’ve been asking people and companies why they are going remote. Needless to say, people and companies have different reasons. I’d like to share with you some of the most common reasons I’ve heard for why we are making the decision to go virtual.
The badass Jim Benson, who can also be happy.
One of the benefits of remote working is being able to hire the best. But how do we find them? And how will we know if they’ll be good a good fit? Hiring someone to work on a remote team is slightly different than hiring someone who will work in an office with you. There is an additional set of skills to scan for.
I like working with people, but I like being in my own space. I like my comfortable chair, my electric sit-stand desk, my multiple monitors, my music, my neighbor cat who comes over to visit… I could go on and on.
At a coworking space, I’m distracted by the noise, the people, the temperature (usually), the uncomfortable chairs, the lack of privacy when I need to make a video call, the lack of external monitors. Again… I could go on and on.
The point is, coworking is not for me. But virtual coworking? That’s another story! With virtual coworking, I can have my comfortable digs AND work with other people at the same time.
It was a Thursday night around 10pm. I had just finished participating in a remote work panel discussion in Las Vegas via the Revolve Robotics Kubi. I turned on a podcast, got up to get a glass of water, and then broke my own #1 house rule: no liquids near the computer. You can probably guess what happened next. Yep. I spilled the entire glass of water onto my keyboard.
From differences in opinion to flat out misunderstandings, conflicts with our virtual teams are inevitable. Differences in language, culture, and working styles can cause all kinds of issues. So what can we do to prevent and resolve these conflicts when they arise?
I will be traveling a lot over the next three months for both presentations and Work Together Anywhere workshops. Lined up before me are Greece, Spain, France, Belgium, Vietnam, and Germany (not to brag ;).
I’ve written before about my ultimate recipe for “work holidays”, which is where one travels to a new place and works while exploring. This time, I want to focus on the things I like to take with me for getting work done on the road.
Last week, I reached Episode 50 on the Collaboration Superpowers podcast. When I first started working on the podcast, I wasn’t sure what it would turn into or how long I would continue. But it’s been almost a year, and I can’t express in words how much pleasure I’ve gotten from each of the interviews I’ve done. It’s been life changing.
But more than meeting all of these great people myself, the real joy has been seeing all of my interviewees connecting with each other on social media and collaborating on projects together! If nothing else were to come from doing this except for just that, I will be one blissed out podcaster!
For the 50th episode, I went through all of the podcasts and tried to highlight just five. It was nearly impossible, but I forced myself to do it.
The Collaboration Superpowers book “Stories Of Remote Teams Doing Great Things” is on its way! It’s been a fun group process. I re-listened to all the interviews on the Collaboration Superpowers podcast (thanks Nick!). And I pulled the gold nuggets out from the interview transcripts (thanks Abdul!). I’ve used tons of the information on the 21st Century Work-Life Podcast (thanks Pilar!) and as the basis for the Work From Anywhere Workshop.
I printed all the text (on real paper!) and attempted to categorize and arrange the information in different ways until an architecture emerged (thanks Florian!). When I started feeling overwhelmed with how much information I had, I was advised to “reach out” and get help from my network (thanks Gretchen!). My network referred me to an Editor, Betsy (thanks Jurgen and Jason!)
And now Betsy and I are burrowing through the mountain of words and pulling out great tips, funny stories, and creative approaches. I start by writing and adding quotes and information from interviews. Next, Betsy reads my writing, corrects my mistakes, and makes suggestions (thanks Betsy!). And we go back and forth like this until we’re both happy with a result. Now, it doesn’t sound like that much fun – but it has been a blast. We don’t just leave feedback for each other in the comments, we also leave funny stories, jokes, random thoughts, and book recommendations. It feels like we’re sitting at a table, drinking beer, and working on a puzzle together… talking back and forth as we search for the next piece that fits.
We’re just about ready to show off the first chapter. The graphic design is being worked on (thanks Alfred!). Copies of Chapter 1 will be sent exclusively to those on the Collaboration Superpowers mailing list. You know what to do!
In college, I was a member of a student group where each meeting began with a short opening question. I didn’t know anything about meeting facilitation at the time, but I remember liking that part of the meeting. Fast forward to when I became a manager leading a team of 20. Out of habit, I started every meeting with a short opening question: favorite color, smell, food, vacation spots, and on and on.
The unintended side effect was that after 6 months of working together, our team had a special bond. We longer knew each other based on our roles at work alone. Bob from Engineering became Bob from Engineering who built canoes, loved the color green, the smell of rain, and volunteered as a coach for his kid’s baseball team.
I later learned that the opening question was a common facilitation technique that helps get everyone talking and creates a safe environment. It has the added benefit of helping us learn about each other and our cultures… whether we’re remote or co-located.
To combat the “out of sight, out of mind” mentality, remote teams are always trying to increase camaraderie and improve communication.
There’s a certain magic that happens when a team clicks. But morale isn’t something that can be forced or manufactured. So how do we create closeness even though we’re far apart? How do we reach through the screens?
Here are my top tips for how to simulate the office online.