In part 1 and 2 of our remote work series, we shared how our core values at Revelry help us avoid overwork, manage interruptions, achieve accountability, and handle loneliness.
In part 3, we’ll talk about that all-important work-life alliance in remote work, and how varied time zones and expectations can counteract even the best of efforts.
At Revelry, the process we’ve set up for managing projects and communication has produced a productive, transparent culture that, in itself, solves most remote work challenges.
Your organization has to work hard to support a better company culture that supports the nature of creative work. What will follow is productivity and transparency that isn’t location dependent, and isn’t thwarted by the distributed nature of the team.
How do we overcome remote work challenges at Revelry?
Building and nurturing a culture that supports the remote team means living our core values. We challenge each other to weave them into process updates and daily work. The core values that we rely on to build our remote work culture are:
- Earn and dispense trust
- Fear is the mind killer
- Work-life alliance
It takes more than words and a pretty poster, though. Here’s how we do it:
Work-Life Alliance & Remote Work
Our work should enrich our lives. Our lives should enrich our work. Balance is about more than health. It is about inspiration and energy. Keep the balance, and keep creating.
When we’re on vacation, we’re on vacation. If life really kicks us in the shins and we’ve got to step away, it’s ok to say “I’m signing off, and I’ll come back fresh tomorrow.”
“I am a strong advocate of work-life “separation” as opposed to work-life “balance.” The concept of work-life “balance” is a dangerous one because “balance” is often mistaken to mean blending, where work and personal tasks are alternated in the same environments, or where one activity is expected to provide both work and life.”
Whether you like the term balance, separation, or our preferred work-life state, alliance, it’s important to understand and prioritize your needs.
But when your work life happens at your home, the lines might be more blurry than you’d hoped. Especially if you’re one to check your messages before you’ve brushed your teeth in the morning. (And especially if your team’s time zone is ahead of yours!) Don’t stretch your work day by getting started before breakfast and jumping back on after dinner.
Define for yourself – and communicate to both your teammates and your housemates – what your work hours are. Or, if it’s more helpful, define what a good day’s work looks like, and maintain that boundary. (Refer back to Part One, where the hours spent learning or working out a problem are still good work hours!)
Get specific with your notification management
Take a thorough audit of the conversations that are urgent and relevant to your workday. This may change depending on the day, the week, or the project, so it’s worthwhile to review this often. Is it actually important for you to be notified every time your name is mentioned? Just because you’re @here or a member of a @channel, that doesn’t mean you must be alerted at the very moment an announcement is made.
Those little pings break your productivity and they can be managed in detail. If you’re not sure where to start, keep track of the pings you receive for a week, and analyze which ones could have waited 1 hour, 4 hours, or until the end of the day. Look at which ones were urgent and for which you were the only team member who could literally keep something from burning down. At Revelry, we make exceptions to our “heads-down” or “non-work” hours when a matter affects the business and bottom line of a product owner. Chat with your team about what constitutes an emergency at your company, and who is responsible to be on deck for a response.
Hunt and hire for the right remote environment
Before trying to work remotely for a company, be sure that you feel a message of trust from the organization. Ask pointed questions about how information is disseminated across the team. Ask about benefits and perks that are useful outside of the company’s home base. Express interest in the number of virtual or in-person get-togethers the company has. Find out what a typical all-hands meeting looks like.
Before hiring someone, figure out if they are willing to earn and dispense trust. Dependability and efficiency are two skills that a remote team member should be able to articulate. And ask your candidate about their documentation habits. Do they see value in writing up OKRs, desired outcomes, or acceptance criteria for a wide range of tasks? Do they feel a responsibility to claim some ownership in a team wiki? Ask what type of note-taking habits or processes have helped them retain information from kickoffs in order to demonstrate a commitment to accountability.
A flexible work environment means that the team may be working or resting at many different hours. Believing that your teammates have achieved that essential personal balance is the first step in knowing that you’ll be operating from a place of trust.