Embracing Remote and In-Person Dynamics for a Thriving Workforce
Insights from Michael Smith - Product Leader
In recent years, the concept of remote and hybrid working has gained immense popularity, especially within the tech industry. The debate surrounding its impact on productivity has been a hot topic, with some arguing that remote working enhances productivity, while others believe it can hinder it. To shed some light on this matter, we had the opportunity to speak with Michael Smith, an experienced professional with a diverse background, including a career in Product leadership at Google, Omnipresent, and Prodigy Finance. Michael delved into his thoughts on remote and hybrid working teams, exploring the advantages, challenges, and essential factors for making it work successfully.
Inclusivity and Enabling Individual Freedom
One of the best aspects of remote working is the freedom it offers to individuals. It caters to those with personal commitments like raising children, and caring for elderly parents, and even to those who may struggle with feelings of social anxiety that can make commuting challenging. Remote work offers inclusivity enabling talented individuals to join companies without geographical constraints, significantly expanding the pool of potential candidates.
Enhanced Access to Global Talent
Another advantage of remote work is its potential to hire globally, breaking down geographical barriers. By casting a wider net, companies can find the right talent for difficult-to-fill roles. However, simply using remote work as a means to cut costs may not be sustainable in the long run, as highly skilled individuals may still seek better opportunities elsewhere.
Operational Considerations for Remote Teams
When managing remote teams, effective communication and documentation become critical. Remote-first companies often have an abundance of documentation, as the necessity for clarity and explicit communication is more pronounced. However, a potential pitfall can be the emphasis on virtual meetings as a measure of productivity. This approach can unintentionally sideline the value of deep, focused work accomplished outside meetings, leading some employees to feel excluded and unappreciated. Additionally, team members engrossed in more solitary, concentrated tasks may find it difficult to attend these meetings, causing their efforts to go unnoticed and underappreciated.
The Importance of In-Person Meetups
Holding occasional in-person meetups foster team cohesiveness bridging the gap created by remote work. Personal interactions enhance empathy and collaboration, which are especially crucial in roles involving sales and client communication. For global teams, it’s essential to hold cross-discipline meetups to address the alignment challenges that can be missed in a remote setting.
The Ideal Balance: Hybrid Working
A Hybrid Working model brings the best of both worlds. It maintains the flexibility that remote work provides while also nurturing the social and cultural aspects of in-office interactions. Spending a few days in the office and the rest working remotely allows individuals to leverage the benefits of both in-person and remote working. There’s a psychological factor here, and that’s if you work by yourself in an office with a lot of people working around you, you can maintain discipline a little bit better than you can on your own. If you’re doing solitary work, you can tend to drift off. Whereas having everybody else just around you doing the same thing kind of gives you that little extra bit of fun. It’s like running with a friend.
Effective Management in Remote and Hybrid Environments
Establishing and implementing good management practices is paramount, particularly when managing remote or hybrid teams. Managers need to focus on managing objectives rather than merely tracking attendance. Goals and clear accountability are essential to ensure productivity and prevent under-management in remote settings.
Remote and hybrid working teams have their strengths and weaknesses. To achieve success, companies need to make a conscious choice and build a culture that supports their chosen model. The hybrid approach appears to strike a balance, allowing individuals to benefit from the flexibility of remote work while preserving valuable in-person interactions. However, regardless of the chosen model, effective management, open communication, and periodic meetups remain the keys to creating a productive and engaged workforce in a rapidly changing work environment.
Key Quotes from the Interview:
“There’s another psychological factor here, and that’s if you work by yourself in an office with a lot of people working around you, you can maintain discipline a little bit better than you can on your own. If you’re doing solitary work, you can tend to drift off. Whereas having everybody else just around you doing the same thing kind of gives you that little extra bit of fun. It’s like running with a friend”
“I think a company that decides to go fully remote and doesn’t give a proper budget for people to meet up – you’re not going to have team cohesiveness”
“ I don’t think it’s black or white. I think you have to manage it correctly both from a company perspective and an individual perspective and then it can be productive. We know how to do in-office work efficiently, both as a company and as an individual, but I think as a company and individual we can fall into traps in remote first.”
Zeren exists to empower the world’s change-makers. We do this by building high-performing teams in the world’s most innovative businesses, to accelerate growth by connecting visionary leaders and ambitious talent.
We are a leading global Executive Search & Recruitment firm with teams and offices in San Francisco, Chicago, New York, London, Berlin, Paris and Frankfurt.
We partner with high-growth, VC/PE-backed businesses and ambitious Corporate brands placing senior leaders, building exceptional teams, or providing critical interim and consulting talent.