After 2020’s world-shifting events, the big question now is what new practices or habits will stick and what will be known solely as a pandemic survival tactic. The hoarding of toilet paper and other vital commodity goods were short-term adoptions. However, from my perspective, remote work is here to stay.
From my experience pre-pandemic, I had devoted seven years to working for a chamber of commerce, which had a very traditional business model. It was a standard 8-5 schedule, plus the various events and meetings at the members’ leisure. An expected workweek was between 50 to 60 hours, which felt like 80 hours at times. I then transitioned to a management consulting firm that has had an entirely remote business model since conception. When making the shift, I was nervous because most of my career was spent in an office or attending events surrounded by people. However, when I made this transition, it coincided with the arrival of the pandemic’s new social restrictions. The difference was my new firm had been practicing remote working for the last three decades, and were masters at getting the most out of their global employee base. With a fresh perspective, I immediately began to assess how organizations could adopt their practices to improve relevancy, member and employee retention, and prepare for the future.
While it isn’t realistic to assume that all organizations will adopt remote business models, I think a hybrid or elements will remain moving forward. Here are some practices of a remote business model that I will be sticking to post-pandemic:
Performance Aligned with a Remote Business Model
When leading remote teams, trust in one another’s abilities is vital. This foundation helps to provide employees the freedom they need to be successful in their roles, and it offers them the space to supply your organization the most value with their skills and insights. Many in-office or in-person business models associate “bums in the seats” for a particular duration as a performance measure, but is that effective? In a remote business model, performance is more related to the quality of output. The outcome of providing employees autonomy provides a happier and healthier work environment and a boost in confidence and effectiveness of staff and teams.
Integration of Effective Team Meetings
Meeting to meet is an old model that isn’t necessarily well-received in today’s workforce. No one wants to attend a monthly meeting that isn’t progressing on a month-to-month basis or is simply listening to one or a few people report out. Instead, convene with intention. Conduct meetings when decisions are needed or when input from others is required. Set an agenda and a timeline and stick to it. What this shows your meeting attendees is your respect for their time and their insight.
Many organizations, chambers, and associations structure engagement through standing committees. However, you will receive more attention from your members if you adopt a project team format and fully adopt effective meeting practices. This will help improve member retention because they can add value when needed. Members will commit to their team role, understanding there will be a beginning, middle, and an end to their contribution. You will also notice a different level of preparedness from participants if you keep to the outlined agenda and allotted time.
Encourage Working at Any Time and Any Place
Remote business models allow for work and life integration. It isn’t even a balance anymore because we are far too connected through devices and our community to ever really turn off our roles. We all know there is no such thing as a quick grocery run when working with so many people throughout your community. Therefore, why structure traditional work hours and fix your employees to a single location? By adopting a remote business model, your staff can be fully integrated into the community. Let them work in the coffee shop to build relationships and show they are supporting a local business. Encourage your staff to venture out to other communities, work to get exposed to new environments, and bring back ideas. Provide them the communication tools and devices they need to do their job from anywhere and anytime. You’d be surprised at how quickly some of your objectives can be met and in a timely fashion if you allow your staff to work when they are at their best.
The same goes for your members. The hustle and bustle of the day at their companies is already overwhelming for them. So why not allow your staff to meet on a Saturday morning for a coffee to build that relationship? Primarily if it works in their schedules, if your team can count these unconventional hours into their workweek, you would be surprised at how much they will get done. Doing this enables them to have the freedom to squeeze a workout in over the lunch hour and get a healthy lunch or snack for some sustenance. It may also allow them to make sure they can see their child’s school performance and make time for their errands.
Fundamentally, they are professionals. They know what they need to do; therefore, treat them as such, and you will be amazed at their ability to exceed your expectations if given the opportunity with any one of these remote business model methods. If you link any of these practices with a leader that can understand and encourage them, then you will flourish. Management in a remote business model is there to support their people. Leadership is always making the time to listen to the needs of staff, providing them with information, tools, and equipment to set them up for success, and following through will make a significant impact.
These practices had to be adopted quickly by a variety of organizations due to the pandemic. However, the likelihood of sticking after the pandemic is high because they improve organizational capabilities and set your organization up for the future.