Feb 8, 2024

Feb 8, 2024

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Feb 22, 2024

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How We Work: Lessons for Employers of Remote Workers

How We Work: Lessons for Employers of Remote Workers

One of the top trending topics since the start of the pandemic has been ‘remote work’.  And much like political positions, we often see the loudest voices are those who are advocating for or sounding the alarm bell about the extremes.  Whether it's the CEO lamenting how remote workers lack motivation or other CEOs assuming that all work can be done asynchronously and 100% virtually, the news is filled with extremist stories.  But in my experience, the majority of people - both managers and employees - understand that the reality is somewhere in the middle.  We have shifted, for the better, to a more hybrid working environment but not everyone is fully equipped.  So I figured I would share some lessons learned from nearly two decades of working remotely and employing remote workers.  This week I’ll focus on employers and next week I’ll focus on the workers’ perspective.


  1. Managers need to get out of their own way.

    If you are the kind of manager who clock-watches, who concerns themselves more with inputs (time worked) rather than outputs (i.e. deliverables), then you won’t be able to cope as a modern manager.  You certainly can’t handle remote workers.  My suggestion to you would be - work on yourself and your anxieties when it comes to employing remote workers.


  2. Hire people you can trust.

    This seems like it should go without saying, but I think the fundamental issue that employers have with remote workers is that they are used to bad hiring practices that don’t focus on the character of the individual.  Using some algorithm to screen a resume / CV and focusing on experience or enumerated skills tends to lead people down the wrong path.  Interviews and screening should be focused on character.  The rest can be taught, learned or figured out along the way.


  3. If the work can be done 100% remote, be creative as to where you get it.

    This means opening up the door to new countries and locations.  I really liked a recruiting system I saw several years ago that brought in the notion of ‘time zone’ rather than ‘location’ for searches.  Because nowadays hiring people in countries outside of your own is super simple with the advent of modern PEOs and platforms.


  4. Budget for travel to enable people to get together.

    This is a more nuanced learning.  For creative work that requires more collaboration, then being in person on a regular basis is critical.  I talked last week about how workshops are SUPER important for facilitating relationships, progressing projects and generally getting work done.  But once the workshop is over, sometimes the consultant needs to sit down without distractions and build a bunch of process diagrams.  Or maybe a software engineer needs to tune the world out and get into the flow for a while.  Each position should be looked at individually to determine the optimal amount of ‘in person’ time versus ‘remote’ time that would work.


  5. Co-working space can be a very effective replacement for full-time offices.

    I’m a huge fan of the entire shared economy.  For example, I haven’t owned a car for most of the last 13 years, relying instead on public transportation and shared car solutions (especially here in Amsterdam).  And co-working is more than just WeWork now.  There is a ton of variety with different relationship approaches based upon company needs.  Whether it’s global reach or flexible credits or part-time usage of dedicated areas, co-working solutions can enable your workforce to be more effective, even if it’s just to have remote employees meet up to brainstorm, or for one of them to take a call from occasionally.

I welcome the new world that we’ve shifted towards with a more global and diversified workplace bringing people and perspectives from more and more places.  And I recognise that I have been in this world for longer than most, as a remote employee myself for most of the last 20 years and as an employer of ‘remote’ workers for more than half of that time.  But if we see this as an opportunity to be better, more well rounded and more effective we can approach the challenges with the right mindset.  That is why some of the fundamental GatherGo use cases are centred around remote employees getting together and considering co-working spaces or other similar locations as part of the ‘puzzle’ when planning a work trip.

So, what have you learned in your career about hiring remote employees? Please feel free to respond in the comments or message me directly!

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