Laurel Farrer, Founder and CEO of Distribute Consulting--a virtual organizational development consulting firm, is well aware of the rewards of transitioning long-term to remote working, and the risks, especially with hybrid models. As a 15-year seasoned remote worker, Laurel has identified the key factors that are critical for success and benchmarking goals for healthy virtual organizations. She shares her experiences, insights, and cautions as we all work through our inevitable, work-related transformations.
[04:02] Laurel’s accidental exposure to remote working and her early experiences.
[07:43] The primary barrier to success was credibility.
[08:21] Determination to overcome the credibility gap fueled her company’s internal culture development.
[08:46] How the success of their creative team was not dependent on the existence of a [physical] whiteboard.
[09:46] The benefits of facilitator in virtual discussions, especially for brainstorming including introverts and extroverts.
[10:53] How asynchronous communications and pre-work boosts collaboration and outcomes.
[12:29] Laurel works on benchmarking to develop goals for healthy virtual organizations.
[13:48] How to navigate the challenges as we explore new work arrangements.
[14:37] The importance of balance and transparent communication.
[15:29] Companies with economic challenges in offering work from home options benefit from explaining the situation to their employees.
[18:17] Company culture is impacting the management process because it takes time to develop a strong culture.
[21:03] Culture is one the six pillars of Laurel’s company’s methodology.
[21:21] Training is key for remote workers to be equipped as successful self-managers.
[22:11] Managers need training to be able to manage people they can’t see—replacing supervising with support and encouragement.
[23:14] The difference between deliverables and results and the importance of tracking both.
[25:15] How a knowledge management system unifies a team to streamline communication and collaboration.
[26:16] Virtual infrastructure encompasses documenting culture and workflows with virtual handbooks.
[27:01] Compliance is a major issue - we haven’t yet achieved operational models for location irrelevancy yet.
[28:16] Understanding what you are getting into is essential.
[29:05] When we were forced to work remotely, it was an emergency not a long-term plan—which are two very different things.
[30:52] Hybrid teams are complicated. The risks and rewards of hybrid work models.
[32:15] The ultimate goal is to be operating as location irrelevant as possible, but we have not broken our habits enough as organizations.
[34:09] IMMEDIATE ACTION TIP: Communicate! Employers and employees need to be talking and listening to each other! Together you can work out how to unleash the power of remote work for your specific and unique organization and organizational culture.
[34:34] Remember, remote work is not a one-size fits all.
[35:23] Go at your own pace—if some people are stressed and resistant, slow it down.
“We also leveraged asynchronous communication. So everybody always felt safe in the systems.”
“What is the checklist of things that I have to do in order to be better? That doesn't exist for virtual organizational development. It doesn't exist necessarily for remote work at all.”
“We really need to figure out how to communicate as transparently as possible about why decisions are being made the way that they are.”
“You might have those cat posters on the wall that say you're humble and that you're innovative and that you're adaptable, but are you really?”
“We need to be able to create space to measure and track all types of outcomes, all types of diverse productivity as opposed to just deliverables.”
“We haven’t yet achieved operational models for location irrelevancy yet.”
“There are so many organizations that say, "No, it's not possible. Everyone come back to the office." And it is possible. You just need to know what to do.”
“We haven’t broken habits enough to have location irrelevant mindsets yet so naturally we are dividing people by location which is going to be problematic as we try to move forward as a unified team.”
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