Love it or hate it, but Remote work came to stay. Employees want to spend more time outside the office, and companies leverage benefits such as having greater access to applicants from different cities or even countries. These working practices pack their own set of pros and cons you should consider when going remote.
A Great Place to Work study states that adapting to a remote job does not seem to cause much friction. It also concludes that collaborators feel more motivated, "willing to give extra to get the work done". But as you can expect, there also exist several challenges, the most commons related to communication barriers. This post will explore the remote work phenomena and review some tips and tools to master it.
Topics to check
- Remote work top challenges
- Remote evolves into Hybrid
- Hybrid work models
- Working Hybrid while keeping Agile
Remote work top challenges
If you have experienced remote or Hybrid work, you indeed have faced some difficulties, mostly related to communication or time allocation. You are not alone, as the Statista's Challenges of working remotely in 2020 study reveals 7 main challenges related to said conditions. Teams need to overcome these in order to get the ball rolling successfully.
More than 3k people from Australia, Canada, US, and UK were interviewed for this research. Almost half of them answered that managing distractions at home can be a pain, which is entirely meaningful when you realize how much stuff goes on in your house. It is also interesting that almost all of these challenges are relevant to most respondents, so lets briefly address each one:
Managing distractions at home - Overall, we suggest you establish a precise schedule, which will help you set boundaries between work and home time. Keeping the balance is essential.
Collaborating with colleagues / clients - Even the coldest "hello" in-person can be more engaging than an emoji-powered DM. If you want to break the ice with teammates and leads, video conference apps combined with Agile management tools can be your way to go.
Isolation / loneliness - These two can significantly affect younger workers, as they lack experience and connections in business environments. Several organizations attempt to mitigate these problems with coaching programs, culture onboarding campaigns, casual meet and greet video conferences, etc.
Motivation - This can usually happen due to people not understanding their impact. The best tips to overcome this are to set clear objectives, recognize achievements and provide feedback. You could also try to add a purpose-driven approach for your team.
Taking adequate time away from work - Again, related to balance: You must set boundaries and always be prone to communication. If someone needs to take off some hours or even a day because of personal matters, it should align with your team agreements.
Disconnecting from work / burnout - On the contrary, workers can spend more time connected, hurting their mental and physical health. We think you can prevent this by reminding your teammates that spending time at work is not the same as being productive. They should focus on delivering value.
Networking / fostering career development - Connecting with others is essential to learn and grow. Please take advantage of one-on-one meetings to check on your collaborators' aspirations and help them follow through the best path.
Remote evolves into Hybrid
63% of high-growth organizations have enabled productivity anywhere workforce models, according to The future of work research by Accenture. Workplaces must be designed with the idea that some people might be working from a physical office while others could be in a different city, at home, or even in a foreign country and time zone. The proper way to call this veering phenomenon is Hybrid Work.
In a nutshell, we can define Hybrid Work as an organizational structure based on arrangements around flexibility. To properly work, it is imperative to communicate these policies clearly, so all parts get on the same page, play under the same rules and leverage its benefits. This also requires a great leadership.
Hybrid work models
There is not a single formula to become hybrid. The arrangements always have to consider several unique circumstances, such as company size, business model, HR processes, etc. It is also essential to distinguish between hybrid and distributed work, referring to coordinating work across different locations. In brief: Hybrid refers to how work is organized, while distributed refers to where it is done.
Digging deeper into the hybrid work models, Rebecca Hinds proposes an interesting classification in her article The 5 Hybrid and Remote Work Models for Your Business, published on Inc. We expect these might serve as a foundation for your team. Check the following infographic.
As Rebecca adds, these models are not "mutually exclusive." It would be best if you opt for a mix that adapts to your needs, and that is why you need to take the time to study and think. Maybe the sales team can keep Fully Flexible, as their schedules most likely sync to potential buyers. Devs can be encouraged to work Remote Friendly, with some mandatory office workdays to cover better planning and syncing sessions.
Whatever your blend, remember that successful hybrid work depends on enabling collaborators to do their best, which includes providing them with an appropriate toolset, guidance and leadership to develop skills. To ensure people are productive anywhere, the Accenture study recommends to:
Foster autonomy - Promote freedom, set realistic goals, and provide feedback.
Keep a positive mindset - Make sure people maintain optimism and be open to discussing mental health issues.
Focus on developing digital skills - It is essential to train your team to use tools that will let them perform better.
Maintain health policies - People need to feel safe. Knowing the organization will support their physical well-being is vital.
Develop supportive leadership - "Active listening and care" are mentioned as essential features in the study.
Sponsor digital maturity - A "strong digital vision" helps collaborators be confident of the company's direction.
Working hybrid while keeping Agile
Not to be confused with the concept of merging Agile and Waterfall practices. Agile approaches such as Scrum, Kanban, and Lean Development are fully compatible with hybrid work. If you are an experienced practitioner, you might already have some ideas to make it work. If you are new, you might want to check some tips on how to embrace Agile.
Hybrid work has mostly affected how Agile ceremonies work. Not having all the people in the room can disrupt communication and collaboration for many teams. Two of the most appropriate ceremonies to keep your team synced during a project are Estimating and Retrospective Sessions. Let's check how you could quickly adapt them into hybrid work models with our in-house developed tools.
As you might know, an Estimating Session is the Agile way teams can plan how much work will be invested per User Story. We know how hard it is to estimate accurately, but you can improve with these 10 steps. When talking about tools, our take is that you start using Scrum Poker Estimates for Jira or Confluence. See how it works in the video:
Scrum Poker will also make your sessions more engaging, as it is designed especially for teammates remotely collaborating. Everybody can quickly join, cast their votes, and check the estimations in Jira or Confluence.
Regarding Retros, your best option is to let the Agile Retrospectives app lead the way. Not only is it a fun way to go through all the stages of your ceremony, but it is also enabled to help you effectively follow-up on action items as Jira issues. Learn more tips to boost your follow-up tactics here.
There you have it. We believe this information will help you go through the ups and downs of incorporating hybrid work into your organization. As we have seen, it pays for productivity and renders advantages, both for workers and companies. What do you think? Let us know in the comments section of our social pages.
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