TC’s Kelly Barlow recently returned from Lisbon, Portugal, where she attended Running Remote’s annual conference. Running Remote is the premier conference for remote-first and hybrid teams, where industry leaders gather to discuss the latest strategies on remote work, company culture, workforce management, and more. Here are Kelly’s takeaways on the topics that bubbled to the top during the event.
A lot of workplace buzzwords came out of the pandemic: hybrid, flexible, remote, etc. And every organization—not to mention individuals—thinks about them differently. Before using buzzwords in job descriptions, workplace policies, etc., have an intentional conversation with your leadership about what the words mean to you and your organization. Then socialize it within your organization so everyone is aligned.
Here’s an example. A job description with the word “flexible” without context can have different meanings for different readers. One person may read it as location flexibility, e.g. it doesn’t matter where I work. Another may read it and interpret it as schedule flexibility, e.g. I don’t have to adhere to a standard set of hours. Yet another may read it and think everything is up for negotiation. If the definition isn’t addressed in the job description and interview process, you may end up with someone with different expectations than yours upon onboarding them into the organization.
Reduce Meetings via Asynchronous Work.
I’m so very tired of meetings. And judging by what I heard at Running Remote, I think we all are. Speaking from experience at The Clearing, when we were largely in person together it took 2 minutes to run to a colleague’s workspace and ask a quick question or get a quick review of email text. Now that we are a distributed workforce, we tend to schedule meetings for everything – from the small questions and reviews to updates on tasks and meetings that took place throughout the day/week.
One presenter at Running Remote highlighted practices to help teams embrace asynchronous work. My favorite: write EVERYTHING down.
At TC, this is already a standard of practice in our client interactions – but what about our internal meetings and practices? Keeping a running journal of how things get done, where things stand, etc., in a shared document (e.g., Google Docs) can help eliminate multiple meetings without investing in potentially costly software licenses for other programs. It’s something I’m looking forward to sharing with our leadership for potential adoption.
Stop Saying Remote.
I’m not sure why this hadn’t dawned on me before, but remote may have negative connotations. Remote typically is something far away from a center or anchor point. For example, a camping spot in the Shenandoah Mountains is remote because it is not in a city or connected to high-traffic areas. The term remote can make workers located away from the organization’s location(s) feel less important or engaged. It’s time to update our language. Think about terms such as distributed or dispersed to put less importance on the distance from the organizational center.