Working Remotely, The New Normal
By Jon Schultz
Apr 20, 2020
With the upheaval of today’s environment, working is a luxury. So many individuals across the globe are faced with uncertainty right now, and working remotely - and all that comes with it - has become the new normal.
Startups have regularly toyed with flexible work-from-home policies, but, ultimately, it comes down to how self-disciplined employees are at maintaining a schedule and accountability within a space that the company has no control over. A few years ago, Aclaimant decided to implement a flex-work environment which allowed employees to choose between working from home or our Chicago-based coworking space. Because of this decision, our recruitment, interview, and hiring process had to adapt as well. “Are you comfortable working from home?” “Have you done so successfully in the past?” “How do you organize your daily calendar without a to-do list provided to you or a manager sitting nearby?” Questions like these (and plenty more related to qualifications) allowed us to curate and be confident in our work-from-anywhere team.
Working from home comes with a whole slew of meanings. Given the current pandemic, individuals across industries who never considered a work-from-home policy, have been forced into this reality. Throughout these unprecedented times, there is one constant...communication. With the vast majority of organizations now a strict work-from-home environment, at least temporarily, most would agree that communication is, now more than ever, the key to success. And, when it comes to working remotely, communications is something we need to actively think about since it’s no longer as simple as walking down the hall to a co-worker’s office or desk. Communications may be include "a suit and tie up top and pajama pants on the bottom" video conference, a brief direct message through a variety of communication apps, or the traditional phone call check-in.
It's easy to get lost in this remote world. Finding routine can be difficult when your new environment may include a direct line of vision to your couch or kitchen pantry. No one expected to experience living and working in a 24/7 shared office/play space/gym/whatever else your home has become, along with a roommate (or roommates!), spouse, partner, or children. With all of these changes, it's a true challenge to break away, find your separate space, and maintain the same level of productivity.
Pre COVID-19, individuals without work-from-home experience struggled to understand the idea or even consider it as a viable option. A career without a commute and in-person meetings can't be legitimate, right? Well, a lot of us now have to dive head-first into this reality. The morning standup meeting regularly held in the conference room now has a completely new dynamic. Team brainstorming sessions involve shared docs with collaborative redlining, and one video-conference call after another (“Zoom” as a verb has taken on a whole new meaning). This is all still communication. Continue these efforts. Push for the extra check-in. Block off time on the calendar to reach out to colleagues in another department - or even yours. Companies, like Aclaimant, have even implemented remote team lunches where colleagues eat at the same time, together behind a camera and in their homes, across the country. Connect in any way you can.
With many B2B companies, most of the customer interactions are remote anyways, and, yet, there's still a shift in that regard as well. The first couple of minutes that were once dedicated to discussing the weather or last night’s game are no more. Instead, we all share our new experiences, adaptations, and even resilience, both personally and professionally.
Colleagues, customers, friends, and family alike rely on communication for relationship development. Keep at it and we'll be sure to come out of this time stronger than ever. And, if you’re still craving that in-person office vibe, here's something to bring you some comfort.