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We’ve been speaking to executives and business leaders across different industries about the transition from in-office to remote—and capturing practical tips and best practices for managing distributed teams.

The best/simplest advice we’ve gotten so far? Don’t be a passenger.

The worst advice? You’ll find that below. 

Here are five of the top mistakes you can make when working remotely (and tips for how to avoid these pitfalls): 

  1. 1. Viewing Remote as a Short-Term Problem

  2. This isn’t going away. During a recent Braintrust webinar, GitLab’s Darren Murph suggested the world’s embrace and recognition of remote work has been accelerated by at least 10 years in response to COVID-19.

  3. And while there's currently a great deal of crisis, 6-12 months from now we’re going to look back and acknowledge the “massive global forcing function” that’s empowered people to be more autonomous and better-leverage technology to do their best work from anywhere in the world. Start taking steps today to embrace this new remote-enabled future.

  4. 2. Doing the Bare Minimum to Enable WFH

  5. “You get what you give” isn’t just a catchy New Radicals song, it's a fact of life! If you put the minimum in, you will get the minimum out.

  6. Check in with your employees to see if they have an adequate WFH set up—and if they don’t, consider helping them create one. Make sure you look at existing functions and processes through this new lens and develop solutions that enable you to do the work that's traditionally been done in person.

  7. photo-of-man-touching-his-head-3752834
  8. 3. Freezing Hiring Plans Because You're Remote

  9. Rather than looking at remote as a short-term problem, try looking at it as a long term opportunity. Distributed work enables hiring managers and organizations to focus on attracting the best available candidates for a particular role, regardless of their geographic location or other traditional barriers.

  10. Virtual hiring (particularly of freelancers and project-based talent) is also a great way to quickly fill specialized roles that are needed to complete specific initiatives.

  11. So if you have the budget, consider hiring and growing FOR remote, not waiting it out.

  12. 4. Focusing Only on "Surviving" or "Making it Work For Now"

  13. You can’t just be focused on how to survive, you need to be focused on how you can thrive in this new reality.

  14. The companies that will succeed are the ones adapting to this new normal, fostering a culture of collaboration, and finding ways to innovate and grow remotely. The companies sitting on the sidelines, taking the “wait and see” approach, will ultimately struggle and in some cases fail.

  15. 5. Leaving Teams and Individuals to Establish Their Own Processes & Protocols

  16. Take the time to establish processes and support protocols that increase productivity, efficiency and innovation in a remote-first world. If you haven’t already, make sure you establish your core values and communication protocols; the goal is to remove any ambiguity about how work from home should work. Then, create structures and systems to enable people to do their best work. This may require some investment on the back end, but it will certainly pay dividends.

  17. Closing Thoughts

In the midst of chaos, it's tempting to follow the path of least resistance; just “let it ride” or wait for things pass. But the enterprises who will be most successful on the other side of this are the ones who are taking a proactive approach to WFH, and not viewing it as just a passing fad. 

If you’re interested in learning more about organizing and managing distributed teams, download our eBook: Innovation from Anywhere.


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