Bringing the executive team on board with operating remotely first

All of us have become really acquainted with working remotely over the past year. When we start to return to normality, though, you’re probably thinking, what now? Will all go back to the pre-pandemic way, or will we use this experience to improve the way we function for good? It’s a decision that needs to be taken by the leadership team together and 100% behind.

Looking forward, you might find yourself asking what plan is best for you and your team. Did your team reap all the advantages of remote work, or did the effect of someone missing their colleagues outweigh the advantages of working from home?
If the team loves working from the comfort of their own home, or you get feedback that the office buzz is missing for everybody, one thing is for sure-a lot of remote working elements are here to stay.

And that’s when the first remote approach to work comes into practice.

Let’s go back to basics before we delve into how to get the leadership team on board with a remote-first approach to work.

What is remote first working?

A remote first approach to work gives the workers the versatility they need to work when and where they and their current situation work best. This requires remote work to be the primary choice for your workers. With the needs of those who work from home prioritized first, your entire team will complete their tasks remotely. It’s a model of work which encourages flexibility.

At sebenzisa.com, our first remote approach focuses on two components:

  • Work remotely
  • Socialise locally

Bringing the executive team on board with operating remotely first

When you first work remotely, it’s crucial that your management team is 100 percent onboard with the idea. First of all, you want them to live and breathe remotely when working. This is to set a precedent for the larger organization and to benchmark standards. Your mission is to build a community that is purpose-driven where everyone feels motivated to do the best they can in their positions. All is about leading by example.

How will this be done?

Set guidelines and standards that will help everyone work together collectively. These rules create confidence, understanding and help with buy-in from your leadership, a winning combination for remote first work. You should also support the structure of the workday, ensure that discrepancies are acknowledged and place productive contact at the top of your priority list.

Back up the transformation with some cold hard truth

You want to sell the premise of it to them, backed up by some hard facts, to keep the leadership team on board. This is where all the positives associated with remote work can begin to be seen, and where you will get them across the line.

What evidence are you able to use?

We surveyed staff in 2020 to gain perspectives on remote working in South Africa, and it exposed some very fascinating truths…

The findings?

The majority of respondents enjoy working from home (84 percent) and, if given the chance, will continue to work from home regularly (92 percent ).

The implementation of flexible work policies helps employers to boost their appeal, raise retention rates and build a healthy (and thus more productive) culture of work.

Long-distance commuters (two hours or more a day) are less likely to be happy with their working hours, work-life balance, and even pay, than short-distance commuters (less than one hour).
Employers who fail to fulfill this criteria could lose top talent to companies who take a more flexible approach to managing their workforce.

Gallup research showed that workers who work remotely are 5 percent more efficient than those who work in the workplace, which means they produce the greatest profits for corporations.

Promoting and maintaining framework for remote first work

When it comes to effectively adapting to a remote first workplace, having structure is key. The arrangement was focused on driving to work while you were in the workplace, taking dedicated breaks, and leaving at a set time. You are more likely to see a rise in work-life integration with remote first work, though, where the boundaries between work and home life become blurred. This idea may be what the leadership team is trying to come to grips with, because they want to see their employees at their desks because that’s where they think they are the most effective.

But not fear. Your team will enjoy all the advantages that come with greater versatility and work-life balance, with some structure and ground rules in place.

You need to set out how this will be done remotely in order to do this. You must ensure that all relevant data and policies are safely maintained and available to all. This also relates to meetings and big decisions, too. During meetings, you should also ensure that notes are taken and video meetings are recorded.

What’s about teams?

There are a few ways you can build your team structure, such as:

Establish a mechanism, framework, and agenda around meetings and updates so that, regardless of their venue, everyone can follow along. Put it in the calendar and make sure everyone with their video cameras attends.

A collaborative database such as Google Documents is used to appoint a meeting lead and scribe to ensure that important decisions and discussion are recorded.

For everyday and weekly sessions, keeping to a daily cadence.

Remember: it will create morale to concentrate on performance over hours and encourage your team to feel empowered in their roles.

Communication is paramount

When you first work remotely, communication is crucial. It’s not just the resources you use to interact, but also the way you interact. You need to set ground rules if the leadership team is not sure that communication will be up to par and vital data will go unmissed. You might suggest conducting a session on efficient communication in a remote environment for the entire team and investing in communication tools.

The right communication tools at the right time

In order to function remotely, good communication is necessary. You need to invest in instruments that will help everyone keep in touch with each other. Pitch and explain tools across a number of fields to the leadership team, including:

Chat Tools – Slack, WhatsApp
Video tools – Google Meet, Microsoft Teams
Projects Management – Asana, Trello, Monday, Wrike

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