Is Remote Work Here to Stay? Is that the Right Question?

Yes. No.

Even after the pandemic is mostly contained, we will want to include some amount of remote work. Partly, we will need to maintain our distance- and hygiene routines. Mostly, we will want to keep the benefits of remote work we’ve come to appreciate.

A better question is, “How do we improve our remote work?”

While we enjoy the flexibility, we could do without the overwork. We love the ability to stay connected through tech and we have had it up to here with the volume of video meetings. Many of us have said, “Ugh. I can’t wait to get back into the office so I can work less.”

There are countless tips and techniques out there for handling remote work. But what we really need is to update our ground rules for working together. Our assumptions about how we decide what to do, how we split up responsibilities, and how we coordinate our work are causing the friction we see in our remote work.

Here’s an example. Let’s say we are working on a proposal and need an answer that we think someone else has. Naturally, we email, text, call, or ask for a meeting with them to get the answer. Turns out they are quite popular and as busy as we are. Our request is one of hundreds they have to deal with today. We know how unproductive this is because we experience it, too.

The ground rules here are that we interupt others to get answers and, on the flip side, that we must respond ASAP to interuptions. What if we migrated to the ground rule that we batch up our requests and answers? One company, Basecamp, implements this ground rule, in part, with office hours.

The great news is that if we update our ground rules, we will not only improve remote work, we’ll improve in-person work and how we integrate remote- and in-person work.

In your corner,


PS: I have long used Todoist as my organization tool. The app is wonderful. The company is, too. The entire company has worked remotely since their founding in 2007. You can get some of their working remotely wisdom from their blog–highly recommended. Start with this article about how remote work improves employee retention.

Photo by Chris Montgomery on Unsplash