They say the only thing constant is change. Early stage People Leadership is all about wearing many hats, being adaptable, and planning for a future state. The Covid-19 pandemic was a future state that no one predicted, and the vast majority of organizations weren't ready for. For many People Ops leaders, leading the transition was a new and urgent addition to their role description.
As an enthusiastic and experienced remote and distributed people leader, I was excited about the opportunity to help teams that traditionally leaned away from a remote operating model embrace the future of work. Every business is unique and each case is different, that's what made leading the conversation about remote workplace experience design such a great opportunity to learn and grow.
Just like any other workplace, a remote workplace works best when it's intentionally designed for the experience of its users, the people! Here are a few key learnings and wins coming from my consulting work with organizations both large and small.
Ruthlessly documenting all of the details is foundational to a successful remote workplace. Getting information out of people's heads, and away from the hallway meetings is a paradigm shift that opens the door for a beautiful employee experience. Working with clients like Darvis (HealthTech), Pinellas County (Government), and Crestron Electronics, started with the construction of a remote work policy to document the expectations and norms between employer and employee.
Creating an equitable experience that all employees are eligible for is an indispensable part of the goal. Watching clients catch this vision and eliminating personal biases of management while extending the same trust to every employee that fills the same remote-work eligible role was a huge win. Moving away from the siloed experiences that are equated to a career-ending arrangement to a model that was accessible for a wider array of people and people groups to be successful is just one beautiful benefit of a remote workplace designed for the experience.
Communication in a distributed team is paramount to success. Helping teams move from a real-time, in real-life dependency to an asynchronous-first model goes a long way. I've written at length about my feelings on asynchronous communication, for this case, I'll just say that it's a key skill to demonstrate for the success of remote people experience. Setting workplace expectations, norms, and a tech stack that supports a proactive and asynchronous approach goes a long way to making work a joy.
Measure what matters. What could be more important than knowing how things are going for the people in your team? It's easy to obsess about numbers like gross revenue, operational expenses, and Net Promoter Scores, but how often do leaders check things like employee or candidate experience? Leading focus groups and designing periodic surveys has been an incredibly helpful tool to inform executive decision-making. Do more of what works, less of what doesn't, and don't forget to check your assumptions against the data.
If you're a SaaS startup or digital agency building a world-changing product or delivering enterprise services, designing an outstanding remote workplace experience is more than just a good idea for now. It's a key part of what will make your business scalable and competitive to win over and retain the best talent in the marketplace. The people strategy, processes, and policies you employ today are foundational to extending your culture, which is the secret sauce that your competitors can't copy.
For all the founders and executives out there who are looking for a partner to bring this to life, I'd love to talk to you!