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It’s clear that working remotely is becoming more and more the norm. Mobile devices, centralized data, and all kinds of apps and software are helping us stay connected no matter where we are. In the past, we had to go to a specific place in order to access the tools and information needed to do our work. But the ability to access information from anywhere is making the traditional 9-to-5 routine unnecessary. And more and more individuals want the benefits that work-life freedom offers.

 

Companies benefit, too. When we remove the barrier of geographic location, we open up more options to work with people and on projects from around the globe, keeping us competitive in price and talent.

But whether we plan to allow for flexible work options at our companies or not, it’s good to have the processes in place that make it possible to work remotely, so things don’t grind to a halt when there’s inclement weather, a transportation strike, or a sick child at home.

For organizations to survive and thrive in the modern world, we should be able to work “remote first”: working online as if we were in the office together. Our companies will only be stronger for it. The things that make remote working successful are the same things we want in place anyway: effortless and fast communication, a shared place for files and conversation, and alignment on a common vision.

There’s a certain magic that happens when a team “clicks.” Whether we’re co-located or remote, every company wants its teams to work well together.

Making the shift from co-located to remote isn’t easy. On top of whatever challenges we are already facing in the office, going remote adds a whole new set of issues: How will the team communicate? How will we know what others are doing?

We think we want to be co-located. But what we really want is high-bandwidth collaboration. So how do we create closeness even though we’re far apart? How do we reach through the screens?

Moving towards a “result-oriented” perspective

We can bring the world closer together with a great internet connection, clear sound, reliable equipment, and good video. The tools that allow us to work in new ways are developing at breakneck speed. From simple tools like instant messaging to entire collaboration platforms, there are hundreds of tools that exist to make remote working possible. All of these interactive sensory experiences bring us closer to replicating the human experience. And the technology gets better every year. But there’s more to working remotely than just having the right tools in place. Virtual team managers must foster good communication and group cohesion.

There are plenty of managers out there who are stuck in the past, locked in by old patterns that don’t apply anymore. When we manage a team in an office, we can see that they are present and working — on something. When our teams are remote, we need to move from being time-based to being results-oriented. We need to focus on the behaviors that build trust, create alignment, cultivate a sense of togetherness, and produce results. The modern manager has to learn how to lead instead of control. We have to set our teams up for success by creating the conditions where people thrive.

A manager who isn’t comfortable taking the risk of going “remote first” might be able to maintain the status quo for a little while. But eventually, flexible work requests and needs will come knocking. It’s better to start preparing now rather than wait for the inevitable.

If you haven’t thought about remote collaboration options in a while, you might be surprised by what’s happening — and what’s possible for your company. We’ve come a long way, and it’s getting better all the time.


This article by Lisette Sutherland is part of a publication with thought leadership pieces by 11 other authors from the CrossKnolwedge Faculty.