Written by Deborah Simmons, Director of Camino Insight

During the last four years, since I’ve been living, breathing and researching all things Digital Nomad and Future of Work, there’s one principle that, for me, has stood out above all others as the key to a successful distributed team:

Remote by Default

I realise how controversial this may sound, particularly at a time when many workers are relishing their return to the office after six gruelling months of home schooling, back aches, death-by-Zoom and everything else driven by the pandemic - but hear me out.

First of all, it’s important to acknowledge that being forced into working remotely overnight for the first time, at a time when everything in life is being turned upside-down is not a true reflection of intentional, structured, remote working.

Secondly, I’m not advocating for all offices to close down permanently on Friday and for everyone to switch to working remotely 100% of the time on Monday. Remote by default does not mean everyone working remotely at all times; it means setting up the workplace as remote-first and where realistic, giving people the choice.

As previously office-based businesses consider long-term adjustments to their practices, workers are falling roughly into three attitudinal pots:

  1. Those who were fully office based pre-pandemic, who have not enjoyed working remotely and are clamouring to get back to their fixed 9-5 desk
  2. Those who have experienced remote work for the first time, who love it, feel more productive, empowered and balanced, and would prefer not to return to the office for the most part
  3. And those who recognise that there are times that working remotely suits them best and other times where they prefer to be physically around their co-workers in the office or workspace

If we are to start listening more to people’s needs and preferences the most likely outcome is a hybrid model, where some workers are office-based some or all of the time, and some are remote for the most part. The issue with this model is that it is the perfect breeding ground for proximity bias (the nemesis of remote workers), where those physically present feel more included, more part of the team and are favoured over their remote co-workers, who are in many ways, excluded.

By operating a remote by default policy, we eradicate presenteeism and enable the seamless flow from office, to remote and back again, making physical location less of an obstacle and more of an additional benefit.

If you want to see the proof in the pudding, just look at the many fully distributed businesses that pre-date the pandemic and have been able to ride the crest of this tsunami, with minimal disruption to their business practices and workers.

If you are interested in hearing more about how to make your teams and business practices more sustainable, flexible and robust, please get in touch at Deborah@caminoinsight.com

You can also join Deborah at our upcoming webinar on 10th November from 11am to 12pm. Book your place here.

Deborah will discuss the principles and why it's so important for us to really understand how to make it work sustainably. Deborah will provide examples of what Remote by Default looks like with case studies of successful and unsuccessful remote working relationships.

 

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