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Future of Work

Remote-Ready or At Risk?

By | Future of Work, HR, Productivity, Remote Working, Talent, Team Culture | No Comments

When done right, remote working boosts overall effectiveness and provides businesses with tangible cost-saving advantages. If teams fail to adapt, companies run the risk of losing productivity and revenue, and the collapse of company culture and employee engagement. It is ever more important to understand where your team is in their remote working journey and to take the necessary steps to support a remote workforce.

If It Can Be Measured, It Can Be Managed

Change can be overwhelming, but adapting your company policies to reflect the demands of the modern workforce is necessary to keep up with the future world of work. Through our experience in Culture and the Future of Work, we have learned that it’s not as simple as being remote-ready or not; and there’s a chance your team is not as effective remotely as it needs to be. 

Experience has shown us that companies go through various stages on route to remote working effectiveness. If you are able to identify and measure what stage your team is at, you can take the necessary course-corrective actions to shift your team toward remote working maturity.

Remote Working Maturity Stages

Remote Working Maturity Stages

 

TAKE THE ASSESSMENT

Read more about the assessment

Remote Team Maturity Assessment

Working remotely can hold greater value and business benefits than a typical office environment. We’re driven to be a change agent in the workplace and an ally in amplifying remote team strengths. 

That’s why we created the Remote Team Maturity assessment. Built on years of experience and research in the future world of work, it evaluates your team around 6 areas of work and against traits and actions found among the most effective remote teams. The assessment takes no longer than 10 minutes and is a simple, yet powerful way to benchmark your team’s remote maturity and effectiveness. Discover how your team measures up and gain the insight you need to take immediate action to help your remote team thrive.

We have also developed “The Culture Canvas”—an open-source framework that makes work culture actionable for businesses to shape their team’s behaviours—as well as our latest ebook “me.we.us – Remote Team Management”, which is available for free download. 

Guillaume de Smedt

Mastering Remote Work: Startup Grind Interview with Guillaume de Smedt

By | Digital Transformation, Future of Work, HR, Recent Posts, Remote Working, Talent, Team Culture | No Comments

While many businesses have opened up to the world of remote working, the burning question is: are they doing so effectively? We have noticed a growing desire for expert advice from business leaders who’ve been mastering remote work. We spoke to Guillaume de Smedt, VP of Community for Silicon Valley-based Startup Grind, for his insights on successfully managing a remote workforce. 

Startup Grind is the world’s largest community of startups, founders, innovators, and creators. They bring like-minded and diverse individuals together to connect, learn, teach, help, build, and belong. They do this daily through local events, flagship conferences, startup programs, online events, partnerships, and online media and content ‒ collectively reaching over 2.5 million individuals worldwide.

Guillaume oversees the global community for Startup Grind across more than 600 cities around the world, ensuring those cities are hosting events and doing what they do best. Currently managing a team of 6 full-time staff and 600 volunteers based in global corners from Beijing to the USA. Guillaume has years of experience in leading, and working with, virtual teams around the world. 

Q: You’ve been working remotely for quite some time, what’s your secret?

A: It isn’t really a secret but I would say it’s that I am constantly learning. At Startup Grind, we also use technology to automate a lot of our processes, and we use processes to ensure the work gets done on time. But really I think success will come from these three things: 

  1. Hire the right people: I usually hire people from within the global Startup Grind community; but if you don’t have access to a talent pool like I do, I would say it’s important to look for certain attributes in the people you hire for remote work: Are they willing to learn? Are they willing to work together in a team, and across different time-zones? Are they self-motivated or self-disciplined and can manage time effectively? Do they have a positive disposition? Are they able to handle working remotely and the solitude that can come with that? Because remote working is not for everyone. 
  2. Onboard them correctly: Give new starters clear tasks, clear training on systems, and have a repository (like Google Sites or Suite) where people can find information quickly. When new people come on board or join our team, we assign them a digital buddy ‒ someone in the same time zone ‒ to help get the new person set up. 
  3. Use a project management system that works for your specific team:  Take advice from all sources, but then distil the information and use what is suitable for your own team – don’t feel pressured into doing what others do, but do what is best for your circumstances. Whatever you choose to use, it’s preferable that the entire company is using the same system (from a budget, transparency and simplicity standpoint). 

Q: Do you have an agreement in place ‒ for your team or company ‒ around working together remotely?

A: Yes, we have a company document that is sent as part of our onboarding process which has things like when you’re expected to work or to be online for international team calls, how to get set up for remote work in your home office, how to access data and set up a Google Site, and so on. It could be more detailed but the document actually took us years to put together through our experience and trial and error. That’s one cool thing about DYDX’s remote work ebook is that it has templates and formulas which are a really great start for a team or company just starting out.

Q: What’s your top tip for remote team managers?

A: It’s not about the time behind the keyboard, but rather the output of the job. If a team member wants to watch a movie on Netflix or go for a surf half-way through the day, we don’t discourage them. It doesn’t matter how a team member manages their time, as long as the work is delivered on time and we’re happy with the quality. The second bit of important advice would be: delegate your tasks properly and make sure the correct people are doing the right tasks. 

Q: How do you make sure the correct people are doing the right tasks?

A: Many teams use productivity tools like Monday.com, Trello.com or Airtable.com, and there are so many suitable tools out there. But as amazing as these tools are, you have to spend time updating the data on them. Unless the whole team is consistently doing this, the tool just won’t work for you. That’s why we predominantly only update our tools (and tasks) in meetings. 

Every Monday we have a team call and we spend the first 15 minutes going through the points the team has raised. Each team member puts on the project list what they want to talk about before the weekly stand-up. We then look at the tasks for that week and delegate and update them right there and then on our project management tool (we use Airtable (due to api’s), however notion.so is another good one to look at). Then we look at last week’s tasks: if anything from last week is incomplete, we move it to this week’s task list. 

This way we can see last week and what was achieved, as well as this week’s upcoming tasks. 

And not only do I know what my team is working on, but everyone else in the company knows, too. 

Q: How do you effectively manage your time?

A: I also use WorkFlowy, it’s my favourite tool for keeping my personal to-dos up to date. Regarding emails, I will only mark it as read if I can action it.. This also shapes how other people in my team send me emails ‒ they put the action point right upfront.

Q: Is there anything that your team regularly does together online to make you all feel part of the same team?

A. I think human interaction is so important ‒ especially in remote teams. Because our team is so spread out all over the world with different time-zones, we don’t do a lot together socially in person, but we do make sure we regularly check in with each other in either stand-ups or one-on-one calls so everyone feels connected. We do little exercises like “about me” sessions so that people can learn about their team members in a personal capacity. We meet in person at our annual team retreat and at our major annual conferences.

Q: What’s the best advice you’ve received about leading and managing a remote workforce? 

A: As a leader of a remote team, try to understand the subtext, nuances or undertones of what people on your team are saying. Each individual handles stress differently. What is the root of it? A team member could be asking for a raise but what they’re really trying to tell you is they’re unhappy about a completely different issue. Being on the pulse of your team is so important ‒ if you’re not, your team members may not come to you with small stuff and this can cause issues down the line. The team lead must work really hard to extract this read from their teammates and make time to truly understand what’s going on inside their team. 

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As a digital transformation practice dY/dX, helps businesses adapt and grow in rapidly changing environments. Through our experience in Culture and the Future of Work, we have worked with remote, distributed teams across Europe, the Middle East, Africa and India. We fervently believe that we can make the future of work, better than today. 

We have created a 10-minute “Remote Team Maturity” assessment designed to quickly measure remote working capabilities and quantify remote team effectiveness. Also available are our free guides to building team culture, The Culture Canvas and Me.We.Us – Remote Team Management, where we provide overviews on how to promote better behaviours within teams as well as toolkits to support doing so.

Honest Chocolate

WE PUT THE REALITY BACK INTO VIRTUAL WORKSHOPS

By | #COVID19, Future of Work, HR, Remote Working | No Comments

The first crack of breaking chocolate. The scent of a roasted cocoa bean. And then pinning the flavours you taste on a flavour wheel with 18 other people… is not what most people are expecting when they join an online event.

The global shutdown has most businesses and event organisers scrambling to make their events ‘virtual’. Every meeting is a Zoom call and conferences all converted to a plethora of free webinars. But simply recreating what we used to do in the physical world is a recipe for boredom.

We couldn’t meet our favourite clients face-to-face over dinner and we couldn’t stroll down to Honest Chocolate for an after-lunch hot chocolate. So, we brought the two together. Partnering with Honest Chocolate, a Cape Town-based artisanal Bean-to-Bar chocolate factory, we invented the Honest Chocolate Virtual Tasting!

Boxes of chocolates were hand-delivered to everyone’s front door with strict instructions to keep their hands off them until the event which 70% of them managed to do.

After introductions and agreeing the etiquette for the session, we kicked off with an icebreaker exercise. Everyone logged into a shared online doc and dragged their flags onto a world map to show where they thought the most cacao beans are produced.

interactive map

West Africa: (Ghana and Cote d’Ivoire) is correct by the way.

This is the same mechanic we use for online brainstorming and interactive learning workshops. We learn by doing, not by sitting back and listening and being remote, sitting back includes answering email, helping kids with homework and shouting at the dog.

With a Zoom Poll, everyone answered a few questions about personal flavour preference proving that we experience tastes differently. Through the rest of the experience the co-founder of Honest Chocolate, Anthony, took us through a journey of different experiences – a live video tour through their factory, a bit of history about cocoa, the Bean-to-Bar chocolate-making process, and tasting nine of their chocolates in between.

Tastings were also mic-on, camera-on, interactive moments when we chatted and pinned what we tasted on the flavour wheels. In many cases, this showed again how we could all interpret the same flavour in different ways.

Honest Chocolate Coconut Blossom

This was a fun experience that involved a lot of chocolate so not a lot could go wrong; but 5 years of working for clients all over Africa, Europe and India with a distributed and diverse team prepared us well for the remote working. Forced by lockdown to cancel client workshops and group training sessions, we converted easily into shared online whiteboards and immersive, interactive ideation sessions.

Part of a ten-week Design Thinking course with Red&Yellow we adapted a full day workshop into two three-hour online sessions. By switching modality between talks, slides and interactive boards—with sticky notes and voting mechanisms—and applying tight time constraints, the workshops feel quick, energetic and highly productive.

One of the biggest learnings from this is that all of the tools you need are readily available, taking advantage of what simple tech can do and changing what’s perceived as acceptable and normal is where teams and companies need help.

And don’t be afraid to experiment!

Remote Working resources:

To support newly remote teams, we published a free ebook and a Remote Team Maturity Assessment:

Me.We.Us ebook: Download the ebook

  • ME. Mastering Self: organising your workspace and headspace for optimum remote performance.
  • WE. Mastering Remote Social Interaction: learning to communicate effectively within a remote team.
  • US. Mastering Teamwork & Managing Distributed Teams: using the “Remote Team Agreement” and “Meeting Formulas” to unlock your team’s remote working potential.
  • We provide you with a toolkit of practical templates that you can use to improve your team’s remote working capabilities.

Remote Working Maturity Assessment: Take the test

  • A snapshot of your team’s remote capabilities
  • A benchmark for your team’s remote working capability
  • Highlighted areas at risk

 

Channel Africa Perspective

By | Future of Work

The extended lockdown has forced South African entrepreneurs to rethink how they manage their teams. With their teams working remotely they need to rethink how they build a team or company culture and how they manage productivity. For most, this requires a change in leadership style, a new way of thinking and new skills.

Templar spoke to Zanele from SABC’s Channel Africa, listen to the interview here.