Authors: Dipesh Pala, Agile Capability Leader, Asia Pacific, Global Business Services and Cobus Beetge, Agile Coach, Global Business Services
This year has brought sudden, large scale adoption of remote working. Although this was met with the rapid uptake of collaboration tools, in the long-term, companies will need to build a culture of trust, respect and empathy for their remote workforce.
After travel restrictions and work-from-home mandates, many business leaders believe that some of the changes are here to stay. Recent statistics show that remote working is expected to increase by 250% by 2022, according to a survey of global executives conducted by the IBM Institute for Business Value.
Remote working requires a cultural shift
While new tools and technologies are helping to address some of the challenges, the real secret to successful remote working is hidden in the associated cultural shift. At IBM, we have been working with an internal set of values for our teams to focus on to support Agile ways-of-working which include Courage, Trust, Respect, Empathy and Openness.
The IBM Agile Values encompass these five core elements that drive all our interactions. They embody the way we want to be treated, as well as the way we want to treat others. While Courage and Openness are important, Trust, Respect and Empathy need even greater focus when working remotely.
In practice, these values look like:
– Clear communication of priorities and outcomes
– A trust in co-workers to provide solutions and accommodating people’s unique circumstances
– Amplifying the contributions of individual team members
– Making careful language choices in the absence of non-verbal communication cues
The highest-performing teams have one thing in common – psychological safety. Business leaders who focus on building Trust, Respect and Empathy into a remote workforce culture are able to create a more collaborative environment, in which every team member can thrive.
Communication is key
According to IBM research, 74% of industry executives say they are currently helping their employees learn to work in new ways, however only a third of surveyed employees said the same; a 36% gap between what leaders believe they are saying and what people are hearing.
Business leaders need to encourage and enable their teams to strive for the richest communication channel e.g. Webex or Slack to retain the benefits they had with co-located teams.
The key to getting the most out of remote working is to enhance how we work remotely together, rather than working remotely as individuals.
Tools are critical, but they are not the only answer
The key to making a success of remote working for any organisation, team or individual is finding the optimal combination of skillset, toolset and mindset. Businesses should aim to minimise the tools stack while focusing instead on remote ways of working. The transition to working remotely needs to be treated as a process with continuous improvement.
Video calls can’t replace the understanding of face-to-face interaction, and this needs to be accounted for when trying to re-create the office experience remotely, especially for team-building initiatives. Leaders and team members need to be aware of video fatigue and go easy on themselves and others. The Harvard Business Review has said video fatigue “stems from how we process information over video. On a video call, the only way to show we’re paying attention is to look at the camera. But, in real life, how often do you stand within three feet of a colleague and stare at their face? Probably never. This is because having to engage in a “constant gaze” makes us uncomfortable and tired.”
If you’d like to find out what the key considerations are to make remote working , work for everyone, check out the New Agile Ways of Working Remotely: a point of view that goes beyond the tools for those working in remote environments. Download your free copy here.
Authors: Dipesh Pala, Agile Capability Leader, Asia Pacific, Global Business Services and Cobus Beetge, Agile Coach, Global Business Services This year has brought sudden, large scale adoption of remote working. Although this was met with the rapid uptake of collaboration tools, in the long-term, companies will need to build a culture of trust, respect and empathy […]
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