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Anonymous Career Advice hybrid office

How To Stay Visible When Working Remotely?

Dear Focus, how do I stay visible when working remotely? 

Working remotely or in some cases hybrid has become a challenge for some team members to appear to be visible. 

It is actually a series of different questions I have received via the anonymous career advice form in recent weeks. 

As recommended in is playing the game essential advice article, there are many times you will need to be available, be part of things you do not naturally lean toward, times where what you need to do is be more proactively and importantly managers, bring those up around you. 

Delivery Presence, Deadlines, Internal Networking are the key categories for you to consider when considering how you are visible, and importantly, how you might manage and tackle this as a leader of the team.

Delivery 

  • Delivering on a project, a campaign or a product release is the best way of staying visible, being able to take your opportunity is always the best way of staying visible and demonstrating you were part of important part of work. 
  • Be The Sender: Sending out the message that you or your team have delivered on a large project or campaign is a great way to be seen and a way to be celebrated or supported. 
  • Be part of fixing the problems. One problem two solutions is a great framework to use and introduce
  • Celebrating the metrics vs just celebrating delivering is always favoured within mature businesses so keeping this in mind is impartive.
  • If you and your manager are not having regular check-ins but you would like to ensure they know what you are ‘doing, done and achieved’ I recommend a weekly email to your manager with (a) what is working, (b) what are you working on and (c) what has been delivered and (d) anything to be cautious of, trends within the industry or larger themes you should be on top of.  
  • Managers: Be able to congratulate and bring your team members to present and send the email or company-wide slack update is essential. If you are a c-suite exec or on the management team always bring your team members to discuss the delivery and early numbers in leadership meetings, help to prep them and bring them along the journey 

Presence 

  • Build out your presence while online meeting, offer to take notes, chair the meeting or own the workstream. This is more work, however, with structure and operational excellence this will help to stay visible and build your presence around the company 
  • Concentrate in the meetings and taking part of meetings, always be prepared to add value or unique insights (versus adding more opinions) and contribute to the follow-up conversations or offer to lead new projects.  
  • Managers: Asking for your team feedback and for someone’s expert opinion particularly when they prefer to be asked is essential, it will help you bring on others presence and their visibility but also helps the team to know their presence and their expertise is vital for the companies success. 

Deadlines 

  • Something many have allowed to slip while working remotely is deadlines slipping or not hitting deadlines.
    Hitting deadlines will always be essential and be vital for a companies success. Hitting a deadline is often the difference between being seen, respected and having positive mindshare vs having negative mindshare and having trust.
  • If/when possible create the GANTT or the roadmap and be the point of contact on the deadlines and deliverables 
  • Be deliberate in communications, not over-communicating, update colleagues on the progress of the project and how you are progressing against deadlines. On many occasions, this is happening however remember internally marketing is as important as externally marketing and applies to projects of all sizes 
  • Managers: Setting realistic deadlines – this is the flip side when a manager of a team or business leader, very often setting aggressive deadlines actually hinders your teams chance of being visible and hitting targets and creating a negative 

Developing Your Internal Network 

  • Build out connections – something when working remotely or in the hybrid workforce is you tend to neglect networking and building internal and external connections, actively work on networking and connecting with colleagues within the organisation and have quick coffees and be available to help colleagues if they need someone to assist them or be a support network  
  • One to one’s are always important – ensure you are keeping up with your one to ones, where possible look to meet with your bosses boss in skip meetings. This is often invaluable and creating a connection with your bosses boss or your team’s team creates better connections 
  • Virtual lunches – this might sound like more work and your time however one of the missing parts of connections when remote or hybrid is eating together and drinking together. I recommend making the same lunch and having 30 minutes where you just talk or connect over something trivial, a tool like donut (slack tool) will help you with virtual meetings and randomised meetings, you scheduling this and working with colleagues will be important 
    Here are a number of hybrid work tools and apps to help you become successful in hybrid.  
  • Hybird lunches – sometimes teams go to lunch when in the office and those who are not there will miss out, where possible consider how you might integrate those working remotely or organise a day and time where colleagues can come together and eat or allow those remote to be present in the hybrid lunch. This also works offsite too. 
  • Network events – something a handful of mart companies have created is hybrid and remote network events with tools like hopin and riverside and connect colleagues in break out rooms, with Q&A between departments and presentations on important projects and successful campaigns and releases 
  • Managers consider building out management pods to connect you and your management team more closely 
  • Managers: It is important to remember remote offsites and remote sessions are not always the silver bullet to bring teams together 

There are many more brilliant pieces of advice for managers and leaders in the fixing the broken world of work podcast

Best of luck and keep moving forward.

Thanks,

Danny Denhard

Read the future of work keynote from the end of June to learn more about how the world of work is changing and how to be successful in the hybrid future.

Categories
hybrid office Leadership

What Makes Great Remote and Hybrid Leaders

The burning 2021 and beyond question to answer:

What makes a great remote and hybrid work leader?

In the move to hybrid work, we have seen many reports suggest hybrid and remote work is going to hinder performance, we will see company culture become toxic, it will slow the development of younger members of staff and we will encounter higher staff turnover while having to completely change the way things are done. 

With all of these points reported, there are very few resources that offer advice on what actually makes a great remote manager and a great hybrid leader. 

Here are the five categories and qualities that make brilliant distributed and hybird leaders:  

Connection  

  • Helps to guide and direct teams
  • Connects work together with teams  
  • Champions the team and their connections 
  • Builds better internal networks – constantly looking to improve the nodes between the department’s networks particularly cross-functionally. 

Awareness  

  • Keeps the heartbeat going throughout the business 
  • Ensure work progresses at the right pace 
  • Sits across workstreams and keep ahead of the potential issues or jumps into action when required 
  • Check’s in and check’s out at the right amount per team member 
  • Understands when there will be a requirement for personnel change, to bring in the right external consultancy or add or replace the supporting agency
  • Ability to be aware if a Team A and Team B mentality starts within the business and removes any issues
  • Helps to monitors how people are feeling alongside their performance 

Organisational  

  • Helps to set the right priorities 
  • Helps to realign or prioritise where required 
  • Helps to shape deadlines and is available for when their teams need guidance 
  • At hand to review the team’s task list when struggling or hit a large bump in the road(map) 
  • Coaching and mentoring those around them pairing awareness and connection 
  • Understands when it is time to train team members in their new environment or when it might be time to let their team member go for performance issues 

Productive

  • Applies EQ and IQ and understands when to apply 
  • Is happy in doing (delivering the tactics) and thinking long term (keeping up with the company-wide strategy) 
  • Is alongside the team in getting things done and helping to set the right goals 
  • Knows when to step away or step up for their team and the project they are delivering 

Communication  

  • Good writer, detailed and deliberate comms in an asynchronous world helps  improve the flow of communication and wins in the hybrid workforce 
  • Understands when to send a detailed update, when to create a short, articulate deck or to speak to those people “face to face”
  • Understands that a quick self-recorded video will land better and have more  impact with their team members than rely on a long email chain 
  • Can understand when a video meeting (zoom, teams etc) is going to be important vs an audio-only meeting or a walk and talk meeting 

These five categories will help guide you and your management team to build out better teams and improving managers in the hybrid and remote work world. 

Two Invaluable Resources 

Categories
Company Culture Leadership

Lessons From Apple’s 3 Day A Week Return To The Office Situation

Apple recently wrote to their employees and suggested they were going to be rolling out a three day work from the office rule to start in September.

With the ever-evolving Covid landscape, Apple is now moving September to October’s plan to hybrid work, something to keep in mind Apple is certain locations have seen staff come to work 3:2.

Tim Cook (the Apple CEO) suggested in an internal memo that most employees will be asked to come into the office on Mondays, Tuesdays, and Thursdays.

Many tech firms have landed at three days per week back in the office. This shows how important to the business is that internal collaboration, proximity and secrecy plays vital roles to the business.

Apple’s Past Leading The Future?

Apple is a product company and is notorious for secrecy, keeping their tech projects top secret and reducing any leaks is their primary objective.

Categories
Anonymous Career Advice

Will An Off-Site Help My Team Connect?

This week, we have had a couple of questions around how will team and business leaders get their teams to collaborate together or will specific activities help bring teams more closely together. 

Dear Focus, my team haven’t spent any time together for over a year, will an offset help them to connect? 

For many, the last year has been a year where many have struggled to keep in touch with their colleagues and connect at a deeper level vs when in person.

As humans we are built to connect at a deeper level, small talk and social cues are essential to us to understand where we are and if we are safe. 

Knowing how you connect peer to peer helps bonds form, herding to happen around collective goals and then tribes to form.

What we lost when remote is the connective layers of relationships, we need to start repairing this, creating events where we can connect firstly as people, but then importantly as teams, departments and companies.

For the most part of the last twelve to fifteen months: survival and sanity have been the name of the game. 

High performing teams can take up to and over six months to connect without any changes. We have a year of change to address.

We have had to put ourselves first and ensure we have a job, we have some security and we get through 2020 and 2021 as safely as possible. 

Off-sites are often a brilliant way to connect a small group of people, typically a quarterly event is a great way to organise and create alignment around common goals and important bonds you wouldn’t get to know outside of an organised event. 

Unfortunately, the side many do not talk about is some offsites can be challenging, often hard work and many around the table will not want to open up and trust can be lost, all of these things need to considered and engineered to encourage openness, airing issues and talking through issues. 

There are obviously a few questions you will have to answer: 

  1. Is this going to be safe? 
  2. I haven’t been around a group of people in a year, can you ease teams into this? 
  3. I don’t want to time with these people, why should we?  
  4. Can we not do this remotely?
    Or in hybrid? 

It is important you answer the first three directly, I will help to guide you with 4.

Be Deliberate: Being hybrid will be challenging, you will always seem like a B team player when remote, technology is still not ideal for remote people in offsites, it can however be done by ensuring you have the best tech available, they are asked their opinion and you have signs and a chair to help guide the hybrid event. 

Two More Factors: There are two core factors you should consider when looking at off-site or on-site. 

The first is to connect the team first and then let work talk take over, you will need a schedule but allow it to be more flexible than previous off-sites and have an agenda and pre-reading everyone reads and provides feedback on. 

The second factor is connecting teams around delivering a dedicated workstream that is just for that group. The project is important to achieve a sense of achievement together and build a connection to winning something as a group. 

Wider Company Connections: An off-site or series of off-sites will help form a company subculture, a team bond or leadership team bond, it won’t answer the bigger issue of addressing a company-wide cultural connection issue.

Doing something grand and reviewing strategy will be essential however these have long lead and success time and connecting to a project that you can win around will be key to connecting.

So the TLDR answer is an offsite will be essential when safe to reconnect in person and it will provide you with a way to connect colleagues together.

The important element to success is being able to connect around the campfire, around food, stories and experiences.

Good luck and enjoy planning those on-site and off-sites.

Remember the office as an arena is a way to think about organisational design and success.

Here’s how we can help you.

Categories
Friday Focus

Friday Focus – 26th February

This week’s Friday Focus are five text messages you will have to think about when planning your return to the office or planning the Hybrid Office.

These questions will help you improve your working environment and build a better hybrid workforce.

1/ Fears around returning the office and not liking their colleagues .
Action: think about how you make the office more inviting and applicable to everyone.

2/ Your team’s not wanting to return to a soulless co-working space.
Action: Think about how you reduce the stress of co-working spaces, how you enable better conversation and more deliberate work.

3/ Many colleagues will not want to return to the office.
Action: The office for many builds anxiety and causes stress, how will you be able to improve their experiences and build spaces for better concentration and deep work.

4/ Expecting your team members to come into the office as some managers do not know how to use certain software.
Action: Think about how you will be able to collect training requirements and reduce stresses for colleagues who could have worked remotely or from home to get more work done.

5/ WFH was much easier for some individuals, how are you doing to enable those who found it easier to work from home vs asking them to work back in the office?
Action: Consider how you enable booking in and booking out of the office, how you encourage those who work better remotely to stay connected.

Remote & Distributed Work Resources

For some ways to shape your thinking, we have two dedicated posts that will help and guide you through some of these struggles

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Leadership

Proven Tips To Reduce Working From Home Stresses

Here are five proven tips that I have found that reduces working from home stresses for me and Focus’ clients.

Walk And Talk Meetings

Meeting dictates our mood, our delivery and our flow throughout the day. Get vitamin D, fresh air and new views to reduce down MRS and meeting anxieties.

Walk and talk meetings, turn one to ones into walk and talk meetings. These were great in the office and great out of the office. I personally like these when no one has to present. If you need to switch on the camera and have an iPhone leverage FaceTime audio and this enables you to switch on the camera.

In our leader’s letter newsletter; optimise your meetings, we touch upon meeting recovery syndrome (MRS) and why it is so important to vary and improve your meetings.

Schedule Pro

Communication fatigue is a battle we have always faced, never as challenging as with our remote-first, forced working-from-home situation we find ourselves in across the global. Scheduling will be a bit step to winning.

Use scheduling email features to clear 30 minutes of your day.
Emails take up hours per day, scheduling emails to send at the end of the day or the next morning will free up your time of unwanted responses or late pings.
If you are a leader you can leverage the internal out of office settings to notify those around you of your working hours.
Use scheduling in apps to prevent notifications from work apps.

Daily 30:15 Time Blocking

Time is the battle ground that everyone fights to win. Win by owning your time and using calendar blocking.

Block out the first 30 mins and last 15 mins of your day to plan and debrief your day.
The 30-minute morning session: Write a quick five most important actions to complete for the day ahead. This helps to clarify what is most important and a guide throughout the day.

Clients have said over the recent months that these 30-minute sessions help to structure writing a letter to their team.

In the evening, write down five points that are occupying your thoughts. These can be the most important projects, the people you want to pick projects up with, the people you want to proactively reach out to or the essential communications you need to send.

Remove Camera View

Being on camera remotely is a performance. It is challenging and a battle, reduce this stress down.

Hide your own camera/view on video calls and hide all non-video views. This will prevent you from looking at yourself and being interrupted by those who have called in and flashing through video calls.

When you run your own working from home retrospective, these are all tips that will help guide you forward as a team, a department or as the company as a whole.

Leave The Home Office

Working from home is new to so many professionals, it has become challenging to leave work. Learn to draw a line and create deliberate boundaries.

Block out the area of your living for work and close the station down, shut down the laptop, place on the chair out of view, place notepads, coasters, post-it notes etc on top of the laptop.
Clear divide helps to shut off and a clear space = clear mind.

In the very near future, in the future of work and the workplace we will likely see working from home (or remotely) take up 70% of your working and knowing how to draw the professional and personal line will be imperative.

Setting ourselves up for success in the Hybrid Office aka the Future.

If you would like to understand and plan for the future of work and the hybrid workplace, download our Hybrid Workplace Ebook Here.