On a recent call, our team got pretty real about the good and bad of being a 100% remote team. In our last post, we talked about the downside to this setup, steering the conversation to how it affects the actual work rather than how it affects us personally. We have seen plenty of posts about the joys of not commuting. Although the conversation opened around the cons, we were able to point out four notable pros to this model.
This is at the top of everyone’s list. Although each situation varies, working from home can increase productivity fairly significantly, especially in those professions that require deep concentration. Here’s the thing. A home office, with fewer distractions than an on-site office, lends itself to working through a complex audit or reconciling a payroll. These are daily tasks for our team. How many times have you been interrupted by someone at the office in the middle of a focused task and then had to start over when you come back to it?
Admittedly, not everyone finds their home a quiet haven to work in. And this is definitely more critical in some professions than others but even in more collaborative spaces, there are times when you just need some concentrated time to work on a thorny issue or scope out a project. Remote work can create that focused space.
The jury is still out on how persistent the remote work model will be when we emerge from this COVID landscape but we are willing to bet that we won’t be going back to the pre-COVID model.
The remote work environment, by nature, discourages the impromptu office meetups that can sabotage your to-do list. We can’t count the times we have been pulled into a meeting last minute that led to another meeting that led to another meeting…and so on. As much as we enjoy being “in the know” on adjacent conversations, we can also lose an entire day of productivity.
Within the remote environment, there is an intentionality to meetings and a built-in respect to the other calendars. It’s an interesting phenomenon that “out of sight” translates to “super busy” for a lot of people. These same colleagues would not hesitate to look through your office door, see you deep in concentration and still pop in for a quick conversation. Or even pull you down the hall into another office for a larger conversation. The very real limits of syncing online calendars keep these types of meetings surprisingly minimized when you work remotely.
Working on a distributed remote team exposes you to people outside your office, region and perspective. That’s a huge value-add to working from home. On-site offices can be a like a small town where you interact with the same people every day and know way too much about their idiosyncrasies. It’s comfortable but sometimes irritatingly predictable.
Throughout COVID, most of the Zoom meetings we participated in opened by comparing notes on how each region/state/country was handling the pandemic and there was a beautiful sense of shared experience even though the experiences varied greatly. Holding virtual space with someone from another part of the country or world as they recounted a particularly poignant victory or loss opened us up to different perspectives and made us all better, in some important way.
Seeing is Connecting
Prior to COVID, we kept the cameras mostly off for our online meetings. A few months into being forced home to work, it was fascinating to watch colleagues begin to turn on their cameras, one by one. It’s now unusual for someone not to have their camera on. For the first time in years of working with some of these people, we finally get to connect a face to the voice. It leads to more trust and collaboration and we don’t imagine a world where we will go back to voice-only calls.
Just having this conversation was cathartic for our team. We rolled our eyes and laughed a lot at the pros and cons that are specific to our setup. Ultimately, we discovered that we had more in common than we had imagined, even from our perspective silos. We encourage other remote teams to make the time to occasionally unpack what is working and what is not working in your unique workspace. You might be surprised at what comes up!