Over the past few days, I've sat in on four different Zoom webinars on the shift to working from home, which includes listening to people from: Truss, Nava, 18F, USDS, Trello, Zapier, Wildbit, Hubspot, MeetEdgar, Gitlab and 37 Signals.
Working remote is a new experience for me, and it's a privilege to be able to freely access the expertise of those who've done it for so long.
Here have been my main overall takeaways from the calls:
- It would be a mistake to assume this the transition your team is going through is merely a shift from IRL to virtual. In reality, your team is weathering a crisis. As a leader, you should be responding to that. This isn't a "normal" work from home experience: Wildbit's CEO made this point; Wikimedia's CEO set the expectation of 50% work time, 37 Signals also set expectations on personal priorities taking precedence.
- Remote is about building trust, and trust is best built in small steps. Don't assign large open-ended projects with long cycles. Break things down into smaller pieces–smaller deliverables, shorter docs, etc... (via Wildbit)
- Don't try to simulate your existing rituals. Redesign the process for the medium. For example, if you're used to brainstorming through in-person meetings, don't simply move that to a Zoom, where it's challenging for more than one person to talk at a time. Redesign the process entirely. How can you cut out meetings altogether?
- Being distributed isn't an accommodation, it's a strategy, especially if your goal is to build an inclusive team. "we prioritize diversity, equity, and inclusion and THEREFORE we must be distributed" (via Truss)
- Unless you're setup to compete on compensation, compete on the ability to provide autonomy and flexibility. Design for this from day one. (via Gitlab)
- What you're really after is the ability to make progress asynchronously.
- Culture, hierarchy of values, and process needs to be documented and so optimize for people who are proficient and comfortable with writing.
- Find people who have experience being a manager of one. How and when have they managed themselves through a major project? (via Gitlab)
- Companies are much more thoughtful and intentional around creating social experiences for the team, and while there are some commonalities that come up (using Donut), this remains a tough problem with mostly ad-hoc solutions.