Five levels of distance. Besides, why are you most likely only on the second?
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With the coronavirus arrival, companies worldwide have been forced to adapt – or create – remote work protocols. Companies such as Box, Amazon, Airbnb, Facebook, Google, and Microsoft have told their employees about some of the “work from home” options.
The more traditional organizations in areas such as real estate, accounting, and local government have not been left out either.
In remote work, as in any other business, there are many levels of skill and skill
Many remote workers download Zoom, Slack, create work mail, and already consider themselves professionals in the “remote.”
When it comes to remote work sharks, the first thing that comes to mind is Automattic, the company behind WordPress, which powers 35% of all websites on the Internet.
Automattic – at the time of this writing – has 1,170 employees spread across over 75 countries, speaking 93 languages.
The company has no office; all of its employees work from home.
Automattic founder Matt Mullenweg recently appeared on Sam Harris’s hit podcast, making Sense talk about what he calls five distributed teams.
Sam Harris talks to the founder of Automattic about the evolution of remote work and its future.
Below are my interpretation and paraphrase of what Mullenweg said about the five levels of remote work. My apologies to Matt if I took something out of context!
Five levels of distributed teams
Level 1: Unintentional Actions
The company has done nothing to support teleworking normally, but employees can still keep the organization afloat.
They have access to a smartphone and email. Perhaps they will join multiple meetings.
However, workers will put off most of the work until they return to the office.
The first tier is where the vast majority of organizations were before the COVID19 outbreak.
Level 2: recreating the office online
This is where most of the organizations are located now, especially the traditional ones.
Here, your employees already have access to video conferencing software (e.g., Zoom), dedicated instant messaging chats (e.g., Slack), and email. However, instead of rebuilding work and taking advantage of the new environment, teams end up redesigning online so that it begins to resemble an office.
This extends to many of the bad habits that permeate the modern office and inhibit employees’ ability to be productive indeed.
- Calls to 10+ people, at a time when two would be enough
- 60+ breaks per day
- Pointless daily conferences that gather almost the entire state
At Level 2, managers still think you should be prepared for a sudden 24/7 conference.
We even encountered cases when “cool” employers installed software for their employees, which tracks how often they are distracted. Perverted. Brr
If you are at level 2, you still have a long way to go.
Level 3: adaptation to the environment
At Level 3, organizations begin to adapt to the environment and take advantage of its key benefits.
Mullenweg points to standard documents (e.g., Google Doc) visible to everyone and updated in real-time during the discussion. This gives a general understanding of what is being discussed and decided
At this stage, companies start investing in better equipment for their employees, such as lighting for video calls and background microphones with noise canceling.
Effective written communication becomes critical. At Automattic, most communication is text-based, so literate. Written communication starts to play a significant role.
The opinion of the founder of Automattic on personal meetings with employees:
1. Hold a meeting only if necessary.
Infrequent cases, the same results cannot be easily achieved with a quick ad hoc conversation, phone call, email, or text message
2. Set the meeting to 15 minutes by default (the shorter the meeting, the more concise you will have to be, and the less time there will be for meaningless chatter and empty talk).
3. Decide on a specific agenda and the desired result that you want to achieve as a result of the meeting.
4. Never, ever use a meeting to convey information – that is what email or instant messages are for.
Level 4: Asynchronous Communication
I will do it when it suits me – This is the fourth level.
The reality is that most things do not require an immediate response. For most questions, an ordinary email or message is more than enough. The recipient, in turn, answers when it is convenient for him.
In addition to the massive benefit of giving employees time to think, create, and enter a flow state (the psychological state in which we are five times more productive, according to McKinsey), asynchronous communication encourages people to make better decisions.
Allowing people time to think between question and answer, rather than being victimized by the first thing that comes to mind, will significantly benefit the organization over time.
To avoid “tennis games” and duplication of effort, make sure you:
- – Provided all the necessary information to complete the task
- – Outlined clear action points and required results.
- – Specified the deadline
Companies that practice asynchronous communication have already dealt with remote control and are now working as efficiently and competently.
Mullenweg points out that globally distributed teams that work asynchronously and masterfully handle tasks can do three times more than a typical team that expects everyone to be in the office between 9 am and 5 pm.
- -Automattic is at level 4, Mullenweg says.
Level 5 Nirvana
This is where your distributed team does better than any office department. Mullenweg equates this level with the emphasis on “environmental design” as it is about the organization’s culture and the physical environment in which people work.
Remote work is cold!
Read my last article on Four types of remote employees