Jacob Tyler’s Solutions to Common Remote Work Complaints. (#3 Is Kinda Controversial)
As a business that’s created a successful hybrid workforce (more about that in this blog post), I wanted to start sharing more about our methods and philosophies regarding remote work. The way I see it, if we can make it work, so can you. So this is the first of many blog posts you’ll see. I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments.
Common complaint 1: More productivity comes at the cost of less social bonding.
With 91% of people surveyed expressing that they were more productive outside of the office, it’s no wonder remote work is taking off. But it has to be noted that in the process we’re missing out on some serious bonding opportunities. When you’re in a creative field like we are, you need those bonds to help drive ideas and client results. As a solution to this we use BlueJeans — a video conference product — to help stay connected with each other and our clients (we have a less formal solution for off-the-cuff needs in the next paragraph). You’d be surprised at how well video calls bring people together. You get to see expressions, body language, and emotions. Those are the foundations of strong relationships. Phone calls just don’t cut it. The key here is making sure everyone understands that although you can dial in and turn your video off, we expect your video to be on — unless you’re having a bad hair day and you think you’ll be called out for it like I was once by a remote contractor. : )
Common complaint 2: Communication suffers with remote work.
In Adam Heitzman’s article for Inc. he writes, “A major drawback to remote work is that you can’t walk across the office when you need something”. Well, Adam, that’s right, but if you plan around not having a physical office with all of your staff present, it’s not that hard to overcome. Here are the policies that work for us for both on-site and remote staff.
- Be available and flexible most of the core working day. If you’re not going to be around, let your immediate teammates know. Even if one person is in New York and one person is San Diego, there’s still five working hours overlap to collab and communicate.
- Use technology that works. As I mentioned in the previous paragraph, technology is our friend. We use Slack and an app that integrates with Slack called Whereby (super cheap and easy) for off-the-cuff group conversations, video calls, and meetings. Highly recommended.
- Buy into “over communicating” and hire those who buy into it as well. You know what’s never pissed me off once? A staff member making sure I saw an important email, text, or calendar invite. That goes double for getting clarity on a project or creative direction. The “hey, did you see my email from last night” double check takes less than a minute and saves countless hours if something gets missed. Over. Communicate. Often.
Common complaint 3: Managing people is too hard remotely.
After 20 years of running this business, I can safely say that managing people is hard no matter what, and if someone is not physically present you may have a tougher time. I don’t, because I came up with a sure-fire solution that will probably be seen as controversial (that’s kinda my brand, btw): Don’t hire people that you need to manage. Ok, there you go, see you later. Just kidding. I wouldn’t leave you hanging. What I’m saying is that in my experience and from what others have told me, the primary qualifier of a successful remote work staff is having people who are highly-organized self starters. When you work with people like that you’ll find that managing isn’t an issue. They manage themselves. That doesn’t mean you won’ have to give direction or discuss projects, because you will. At Jacob Tyler, we only hire people with 10 years+ experience for most roles and at least a couple years remote work experience. That’s our policy and it works. Depending on your industry more or less experience could work for you.
“Don’t hire people that you need to manage … the primary qualifier of a successful remote work staff is having people who are highly-organized self starters.”