The Unicorns Of Tomorrow Will Be Built Remotely As we face a global pandemic, the trend towards remote work is accelerating even faster as companies scramble to adapt to the situation
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The trend towards remote work has been growing over the past few years, thanks to advancements in technology that have made it easier for teams to communicate and manage projects from anywhere in the world. This has been particularly apparent in the tech industry, where a number of factors such as costs and talent shortages have made it increasingly more difficult for startups to survive in the Silicon Valley. In early 2019, Sam Altman, then president of Y Combinator, wrote on Twitter, "I think 2017 was around when it stopped being an obviously good idea for startups to be in the Bay area, but it's been somewhat obscured by a massive surge in availability of cheap seed funding."
Now, as we face a global pandemic, the trend towards remote work is accelerating even faster as companies scramble to adapt to the situation. The ensuing stay-at-home orders from governments around the world forced almost all companies to embrace remote work virtually overnight. A trend that was previously believed to play out over the next decade was accelerated at warp speed into a period of just two to three months.
While some companies have struggled to adapt, others have found new benefits in a remote model that have them rethinking the future of workspaces.
A platform called Turing, which helps companies vet and recruit high level tech talent, was one of the first to notice this practically overnight shift towards the remote model. During the period of February through May of 2020, the company saw more than a 600 per cent increase in activity from companies seeking to increase remote hiring. They are also witnessing several signs that indicate this remote trend may be here to stay. Turing's CEO, Jonathan Siddharth, explains, "We've seen a massive transformation around the world. What's especially interesting is the number of companies, including Twitter, Square, Facebook, Microsoft, Google, and others that have announced that many of their remote employees will not be required to return to an office once we've come through the pandemic." Although the remote model may present challenges for some companies, there's several things they can do to make the transition easier.
Here are four tips that companies can focus on in order to remain successful while working remotely.
Focus on communication
For those companies that have had to and continue to work remotely, one of the biggest challenges has been successfully managing remote distributed teams. Therefore, in order to remain successful, these companies need to establish disciplined communication practices at all levels of the company.
It is essential for workers and team members to continually maintain communication and have scheduled calls and/or meetings to touch base throughout the day. The right communication protocols will keep remote employees motivated as well as accountable.
Embrace the change
Turing's CEO Siddharth is a big proponent of remote work. "The sudden global experiment in whether remote distributed teams can perform has proven that they do. Many companies have learned that their teams are at least as, if not more, productive. Their employees are happy to skip commutes and enjoy having more flexibility with their jobs, and more time to spend with their families."
Siddharth, along with many other CEO's, believes that we are going to see a major change in how people view work going forward. Whereas there used to be a clear distinction between work and remote work, now all software development work is regarded as remote work and all teams can be viewed as distributed teams.
During this new shift in work culture, it is important for managers to listen to their employees as best as they can. Because empathy unfortunately often gets lost in a remote work culture, managers need to be prepared to listen to their employees and work with them to get through any of their struggles or worries throughout this time.
Employers should also be extra aware and empathetic of their employees mental health while working at home. When working in an office environment, it is easier to identify when people working are having difficulties. But working remotely leads to a different set of issues for employees, including potential for loneliness, lack of motivation, and anxieties from spending too much time on social media or reading the news online. It is important not to just hold remote employees accountable, but also be available to them to guide them through the transition and maintain their mental health.
Consistent and streamlined onboarding process
Working remotely can be challenging organizationally. Therefore, it's important to have processes in place that allow workers to stay organized while working in different locations. Hiring poses an even bigger challenge in this regard. Therefore, companies should put in place some form of consistent and replicable onboarding process in order to avoid chaos each time a new employee is hired.
Standard operating procedures have always been a mainstay of major corporations, but now they are more crucial than ever for even smaller companies and teams. By having clear procedures in place, each new employee hire and onboarding can be completed efficiently and systematically.
Avoid employee burnout
When people work from home, boundaries get obscured and burnout becomes more common. To avoid this, it's important companies establish regular office hours for their teams. Turing's CEO Siddharth again explains that employees and managers should avoid making requests or scheduling calls or meetings outside of their team's regular schedules.
Respecting and helping employees define clear boundaries and expectations of when to be available and when work is expected to be done, will create better consistency in output from remote workers, as well as minimize resentment or negativity towards managers who consistently disregard remote workers schedules. Having realistic expectations of what can be completed within each work day as well as clear milestones will help employees maintain their focus remotely and keep their morale high.
The year 2020 brought with it massive changes that impacted employees practically overnight. As governments imposed strict stay-at-home orders, remote work quickly went from a newer, less accepted concept to an absolute necessity. Despite the challenges that this quick change brought with it, a great deal of companies are actually realizing that remote work might be more than just a workplace fad. It looks to be a beneficial economic strategy.