Why Remote Workers Need THIS to Be More Productive
May 10, 2020
Stop Trying to Lead & Train Remote Workers in Real-Time
Joshua Clarke is the Senior Web Developer at West Corporation, and he fills a unique position floating between nine different teams, spread out across multiple time zones, working on nine different products within the organization.
With everyone working at different times and on different projects you would think that this presents a communication nightmare, leaving managers like Clarke working at all hours of the day and night.
Except, he isn’t.
One of the main reasons why, is because he and his team (and the organization at large) leverage asynchronous communication.
Which means everyone knows exactly what they need to be working on, at any given time, and that time zones and distance are not a factor when it comes to collaborative work.
The Foundations for a Remote Work Culture Matter
In Clarke’s organization the foundations for remote work were in place and part of the workflow well before the global shutdown, so the transition hasn’t impacted the team’s performance at all.
Even with some team members living in countries that were under military patrol, the ability to continue working was developed, tested and in place, well beforehand.
This meant that employees were already familiar with the technology, the etiquette of working remotely with the team, and had clear expectations in place for what they needed to do in order to ensure business continuity.
One of the main reasons why this transition was so successful is because the organization decided that it wanted to start moving towards a distributed team model, and had taken the steps necessary to ensure that work could get done, even if people weren’t physically together.
This meant that the need for real-time, in-person, communication and leadership could change.
The ability to collaborate and work on projects asynchronously meant that systems, processes and centralized locations for work and training had to be developed.
When employees are able to quickly access updates, information and progress reports for the projects that they are involved in, this means less time spent waiting for a colleague or manager to be online live to provide that information.
It also means that employees are able to manage their time, schedules, and workload in a way that allows them to do deep work and remain productive - in the absence of someone telling them “what to do next” every step of the way.
Less In-Person Guidance and More Access to Information
For any of us that have worked in large organizations that span the country, or the globe, we know that time zone differences can present a complex issue when it comes to communication.
This is because we are trying to find the middle ground needed to get on to a conference call, or webinar chat so that we can ‘communicate effectively’ with our counterparts.
However unlike the workflow of a decade ago, we now have the ability to centralize our information into platforms and systems that allow us to access the information and education we need to keep working despite these geographic or time zone differences.
Especially when it comes to digital leadership!
There was a time where managers and senior leaders spent a great deal of time on planes, in cabs, and living on hotel food, simply because they wanted to be in front of their teams.
This isn’t necessary any longer and these in-person visits can be reserved for annual or bi-annual events instead.
When leaders and managers aren’t filling their calendars with unnecessary meetings and fielding emails or requests for updates, then they are free to do what leaders are meant to do.
Lead their people.
Leaders are often pulled into the process of work, and act as subject matter experts on the technical side of work, “answer the client this way, do this next, access the CRM and enter the data in here, make sure you remember to fill in this report”, instead of leading the people that fill those roles.
When you put together the education and communication that your team needs, and start to leverage the power of asynchronous communication, you allow your teams to spend time doing great work.
In turn, you spend less time on real-time, LIVE, communication and empower them to remain productive, informed and moving forward.
And who doesn’t want more time as a leader?
The Most Impactful Way to Implement Asynchronous Communication At Work
So, if you’re used to communicating in real time and in person with your teams, how do you start to adjust your leadership style to ensure that asynchronous communication works for you?
The first place that you will find significant value in shifting from real-time communication, to asynchronous communication, is with your employee training and education.
For many years it’s been shown time and again that automating our education, onboarding, and training leads to greater retention of the information, the ability to apply concepts and practice them during the workday, and repositions the dynamic between manager and employee.
It also frees up everyone’s time!
Education and Training
Up until now, most education and training happened in a boardroom with select team members sequestered anywhere from 1-5 days in front of a facilitator and a powerpoint presentation.
At the end of this training everyone is sent back to their jobs with ‘new and improved’ information on how to perform a certain technical skill, or a better understanding of how a particular soft skill can be developed and practiced.
Today, education and training can be offered digitally through the creation of online (or digital) courses.
Employees can watch videos, take polls, fill in surveys, get quizzed on the content and put into practice what they are learning in real-time, as opposed to waiting until they are released back into the office.
Unlike real-time training, digital training allows the learners to revisit content, seek clarification, and take their time in understanding the concepts or skills they are learning about.
Leaders are also able to view progress, act as mentors or coaches, and help team members balance work and education in a positive way.
It’s this asynchronous communication (or asynchronous education) that frees up time and effort for both the leader and the employee.
Real-time interaction is now focused on applying concepts, asking meaningful questions and opening up opportunity to coaching.
Automating education and training is an important part of the success of a remote work role, and allows leadership to focus on the critical aspects of the training - mentorship - instead of acting as the facilitator themselves.
With this in place, now your Zoom meetings, video calls and Slack chats can be focused on the application of new training, rather than trying to education your teams in real-time at a distance.