Had enough of your desk or your corner office? You're not alone: According to a survey by FlexJobs conducted last summer, 58 percent of respondents reported wanting to work fully remote following the pandemic, and 39 percent want a hybrid work environment. That's 97 percent of folks who wouldn't mind bidding the traditional day at the office adieu.
As co-founders of Living Vehicle, we have the exciting job of creating practical, off-grid solutions for offices in our luxury trailers--for people to truly work from anywhere. We founded Living Vehicle while working off-grid in mountains, by the beach, and on the road. With remote work here to stay, here is some of what our experience has taught us about making an operation thrive with the freedom to not only WFH but WFA (work from anywhere).
1. Maintain Weekly Meetings and Keep Your Schedule
Consistency in structured, relevant, and actionable meetings is the lifeblood of an organization. At our workplace, we kick off each week--no matter where the team is located--with a highly organized all-team digital huddle with clear objectives in place. After a couple of minutes welcoming a new week, every team member establishes actionable and transparent personal commitments. This empowers the team to direct attention to the small regular steps that drive a united goal.
As leaders, we have fully embraced the operating system of the "Four Disciplines of Execution" (4DX) developed by Franklin Covey, with weekly meetings focused on reviewing performance and progress against goals. Whatever your business operating system, ensure that the cadence and subject of meetings are highly regulated. Success over time is measured by how well organizations accomplish their "wildly important goals" (WIGs), so use meetings to move the needle toward achieving them. And bear in mind how incredibly empowering it can be for individual team members to see the effects of their efforts.
2. Test the Waters Before Cannonballing In
The funny thing about entrepreneurship: The very thing that makes an entrepreneur successful in the first place can be the single-most significant character trait that leads to failure. Responsible for the company's direction, the leader's job is to point towards a guide. And the organization follows.
Jumping "all in" to a new idea, especially when your workforce is working remotely, is a tremendous commitment and can lead to great success or disaster. A business leader must stay focused on testing, researching, and creating key performance indicators (KPIs) around all new ideas before embracing them company-wide.
3. Leverage Tech to Maintain a Great Culture
The most challenging aspect of running a remote company is maintaining a great culture. Many "culture forward" workspaces filled with such "tools" for fun (think beer on tap and Ping-Pong tables in common spaces) are now offering remote work options. Indeed, with such tools no longer available to empower workforces, it's worth asking if those tools were empowering in the first place.
At our workplace, we run on a culture of high performance and trust to empower our team to be their best. Great companies are built on great employees. Digital project and team management systems are making significant leaps forward during the pandemic. Software platforms such as Asana and Slack are all attractive options to create a social foundation behind remote project management, able to keep employees engaged, working toward goals, and communicating regularly with one another.
4. Create a Scoreboard Accountability System
You can liken great corporate culture to a playoff-bound sports team whose operation seems effortless. Passes become natural, plays line up without issue, and the progress on the scoreboard shows up. It's a beautiful thing to observe a team of great athletes operating together, almost effortlessly, without communication--like they know what their teammates are thinking.
The sports analogy here is most appropriate because of the existence of the scoreboard. In business, the scoreboard is the accountability system--thousands of tiny efforts must all come together in unison to acquire points on the board and win the game. Can you imagine how well the team would play without a scoreboard? The team wouldn't know when to run a play, push on defense, or execute a strategy. The players would become lost and lose interest.
Humans are built on the concept of winning--but without knowing if you're making progress towards the goal or if you're even going in the right direction, the game would become meaningless. Business is no different. Every organization must have a scoreboard.
5. Collect and Analyze Data
How many board meetings turn into hours of discussion about data, with questions such as: "Is the data accurate?", "Is it still precise/meaningful today?", and, "What does it mean in the first place?" From marketing to sales, manufacturing to customer service, all divisions of an organization have performance metrics that provide insight to quantify the objective performance of the business.
Some data points are easy to see; others are less so. With no control over data, the remote team will become disconnected and lose motivation. Meaningful data tracking is the lifeblood of a remote organization: A team that has real-time visibility to the performance data and understands how to make the greatest impact will become independently motivated and highly productive in a remote workplace. This same data set can also be used to hold individuals accountable to themselves, their team members, and the company.