Authentic Cultural Environment for Remote Workforce

Walk into your local coffee shop any day and you’re likely to see someone sitting at a table, staring at a computer screen. Without knowing the details, one thing is for sure, terrible, that they are “on the job”. Many of us have been there in our careers, each of us needs an outlet, an internet connection and we are well on our way. 

As a developer for a global enterprise, Randy said his strength is connecting and collaborating with people from different parts of the world. He’s about 4,500 long-haul flights away from IBM’s design studio in Austin, Texas, and at least a fifteen-hour plane ride away from the nearest inventor on their product team. 

However, it’s 18 hours away by plane, literally on the other side of the country, as we look at the most distant members. In this current part, he is part of a multi-functional team where most of the specialized people come from two main areas, Cork, Ireland and Kassel, Germany. 

In this product group, he is the only Austin-based satellite inventor, although he has had the advantage of being able to sit with our engineering team. Such scripts are now common. In 2018, Owl Labs found that 56% of the sharing companies surveyed supported or allowed some form of remote management for their employees. 

While this organizational approach has changed the way we work, it has also paved the way for new models of how we communicate with each other remotely. 

We make the mistake of believing that we need to know everything (always) to add value to the team. This “hard maverick” intelligence is a one-way ticket to the apparent model. Next thing you know, a significant amount of time passes, your progress stalls, and by the time someone catches up, you’re in the water. 

Go back, no one knows everything, and most importantly, teams thrive on collaboration. Let’s learn together. All the great workgroups someone has been in have had a healthy culture of ongoing literacy.

 In these teams, failure is okay, especially when our miscalculations are turned into alphabet gaps. Working in a remote team, we prefer to run or hide from our misjudgments, he recommends failing “publicly”. This lets the team know that you have hired a mortal who will fall and inevitably commit crimes. In doing so, it allows others to either offer support or learn. 

Personally, gentle baths are easier to practice because you are in the same physical space as your colleagues. From laughter to frustration, we gain an advantage when we are consistent in our interpretation of someone’s emotions. 

We can gauge these feelings from verbal inflexions, facial expressions and gestures. However, when we are away from our teammates, we have to be more creative in communicating or taking over those emotions.

As he confers with his team during the day, about 90% happens in shifts; the other 10 is resolved between conference calls, emails and other opinion-building tools. In all these spaces, it is easy for us to convey not only what we say, but also what we think and how we feel.

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