While some countries are slowly lifting their Covid-19-related restrictions, the pandemic has been the impetus for broader adoption of remote working in a lot of companies, be it as a temporary, or more definitive measure. This new normal has been a long-anticipated development, however, it ended up happening in a somewhat hurried way, even though remote working is a profound change to the way individuals, teams and companies operate.
In our webinar, we discussed some of the key challenges and opportunities generated by remote working, and shared best practices for both companies, managers and individuals to make their remote transition as successful as possible.
Some of the key aspects discussed:
There isn’t one single, ideal remote organization. The remote organization be customized and adapted to the company, factoring in its culture, its profile makeup (notably for Sales teams, who often need to keep a sense of healthy competition through in-person exchanges), the maturity of the teams (entry-level and interns aren’t always ready for this type of organization). This can sometimes require to implement a hybrid organization model, blending remote working and in-office presence.
The switch to remote is progressive, and based on a comprehensive test & learn approach. It is very important to explain your teams that you’ll proceed to adjustments regularly, and to own up on any errors made & constantly adapt your organization.
The remote organization also requires the implementation of dedicated tools, such as:
- Hardware, services and software to enable workers to operate remotely in good conditions (double computer screen, train passes to facilitate roundtrips to the office, informal Slack channels to help build & sustain individual & team bonds)
- Management tools to help managers ease into the transition of remote management (tools to clearly define & assess objectives, tips to help individual & group communication between manager & team members)
A couple specific questions were asked by our portfolio companies:
Any tips to manager interns and entry-level / very junior profiles?
(Alison) It’s particularly tricky to onboard junior profiles while working remotely. At Sqreen, we usually onboard all staff members at the office closest to their home. Creating this initial bond face-to-face makes organizing subsequent remote working a lot easier.
However, junior profiles also learn work methodologies informally, through office life exchanges – while remote working with junior profiles isn’t impossible, it clearly isn’t the ideal scenario, and whether working remotely or not, it’s highly recommended to assign very clear tasks to these team members.
There’s also increased burnout risks when they find themselves alone working at home, and we’ve made a conscious effort with their managers to make sure that our younger, less senior employees feel free to disconnect when they need a breather.
(Virgile) At Comet, interns aren’t eligible for remote working by default, but this option is available to their managers and at their discretion. Junior employees tend to struggle to adjust with remote working, and during this period, we’ve decided to slow down our recruitment of junior employees, and to implement remote working progressively and on a case-by-case basis for such profiles.
How do you handle commercial teams working fully remotely?
(Virgile) We’ve found reluctance from sales teams to work remotely, as they are generally more stimulated when being present at the office. At Comet, sales people are never 100% remote, and come naturally to the office – we haven’t had to implement a specific policy for these teams.
(Alison) At Sqreen, one of the more challenging topics we’ve had to deal with during the quarantine period was onboarding sales newcomers, as the product is highly technical. The ramp-up is consequently lengthened, and unfortunately, we don’t have a perfect solution at this stage. However, we did find that the more senior the newcomers, the more proactive they are with regards to asking questions and looking for more information.
Staggered schedules and time zones can add another layer of complexity. How should they be managed?
The constraints are similar between these 2 situations. Each team member must be aware of their internal stakeholders constraints and organize adequately, and this must provide additional flexibility. This is also something that needs to be properly communicated by team members who experience scheduling constraints (for instance, by adding those in their schedules, and communicating on them if necessary when scheduling is being discussed).
In Sqreen’s tech teams, the day starts with a daily stand up, organized both remotely and at the office. Additionally, we make sure to avoid scheduling meetings too early / late in the day so that we can maximize hassle-free and high-attendance timeslots. This actually isn’t rocket science, but it’s everyone’s responsibility to both share their constraints and be mindful of their fellow team members’.