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If “work life will never be the same”, let us use this opportunity and jointly shape it to the benefit of all

Munich, 20 February 2022

I really enjoyed reading the article “Op-Ed: Work life will never be the same. We need some in-person days and some remote” (https://www.latimes.com/opinion/story/2022-02-08/remote-work-pandemic-working-from-home-return-to-office-hybrid-diversity-commute-pollution) by Nicholas Bloom (https://nbloom.people.stanford.edu/).

The author seems to do research on remote work for almost 20 years and he writes “before the pandemic, few people took remote work seriously” and “the pandemic is the biggest shock to American working life since the shift to military production during World War II”. I am not in a position to judge on the overall impact on society and business but from a personal perspective, would agree that “work life will never be the same” for a lot of employees and managers. And I think it is a unique opportunity we should jointly use and actively shape the outcome.

Coming from a business environment which is dominated by IT and DevOps, often including distributed teams, I feel quite comfortable with the new way of work set-up. More important, I do see numerous benefits in a working environment which allows a major part being remote, e.g. from home office.
One example is the opportunity for people with certain disabilities to be an active and equal part of the team (which I think is often not given in a typical office environment), thus the new way of work supports inclusion. To my opinion, this applies in a similar fashion to older colleagues being more easily accepted when everybody is remote (of course assuming they fully adapt to the tools and processes and have the same appetite for collaboration and joint success). Implemented properly, this should be to the benefit of both, employees, and companies.

Less travel from home to work is to the benefit of the environment. On top, this eliminates unproductive time and frees thus up for either more productive work or to be spend with family, sports etc. Anyone interested in some examples of major cities in the US may look at https://www.makealivingwriting.com/commuting-map-remote-working:

The often-cited increase of flexibility, e.g., being with the kids in the afternoon and finishing one’s work in the late afternoon and evening might be true for several jobs. But in order to be fully integrated in a team, being available when there is a need to communicate with others and this on short notice, I am not sure how this will remain a realistic benefit on the long term. My guess is that employees who want to fully remain connected with their teammates and managers will try to ensure to be available during typical working hours.

I am of the same opinion as many others, that companies wanting to get the best qualified and motivated employees, will have to offer a major remote component. Depending on the skills sought, one might not find the best candidates nearby anyway. Further, local employees have now experienced some of the benefits of a partial remote work and will not accept future jobs without it. Nicholas Bloom writes “a December survey revealed that more than 40% of U.S. employees would start looking for another job or quit immediately if ordered to return to the office full time”. For those employees, a “hybrid model”, as suggested by the author, might be a good option. But this will not be an option for truly remote colleagues, e.g. working from a location far away.

Thus, I think a substantial part of work will in future be done by fully remote setups. Something like an evolution of an onsite – offshore or nearshore setup. If all of this is done with the right processes, tools and by colleagues with the right attitude and mindset, I think this will be to the benefit of everybody.

Comments or interested in digging deeper? I would love to get your feedback via info@virtual.com.

 

 

Virtual-T’s Successful Remote Teams Framework – covering delivery, cultural fit, onboarding, and keeping the teams together the long term

Munich, 8 February 2022

Our motto is “we help companies to leverage the best of virtual teams”. One building block to keep this promise is to ensure our experiences, lessons learnt and commonly accepted best practices are properly reflected in any project. For this, we currently prepare a “Virtual-T Successful Remote Teams Framework”. Our goal is to cover all aspects of successful virtual teams and provide a handbook to achieve it. Here, we simply want to address some small parts.

Delivery: Similar to any other typical project, the customers main interest is the delivery of the team as a whole. In our case (DevOps), this will be a new feature of even a full product, providing the expected functionality in quality, implemented in time and within the given budget. Coming from years of successful offshore/nearshore software projects, this is our heritage and easily covered.
But of course, there are many more aspects to consider.

Cultural fit: When looking further into successful client teams, the team members have to fit to the culture in place at the customer. Those cultural aspects might be official and documented, e.g., company values, or being unspoken but well established and accepted. In comparison, adapting to the customers tools and processes should be the easy, straightforward task. Truly adapting to the behavioral patterns, communication styles etc. is often a more subtle process, requiring motivation and time, on both sides.

Keeping the team together long term: After all this is achieved, it is of high interest to benefit from those efforts and keep the team together and well aligned on the long run. An article by Strategy& covers this well written and to the point: “Keeping your virtual team together over the long term” (https://www.strategyand.pwc.com/de/en/industries/telco-technology/keeping-your-virtual-team-together.html). E.g., the authors write that in typical home office scenarios, a feeling of isolation can occur and – if not addressed properly – frustration with some challenges may lead to a decline in the motivation of individual team members.

To overcome the challenges, the authors have put together “10 recommendations that all teams should consider, even if not all are relevant for every team”. We want to list some of them which are also part of our dedicated “Successful Remote Teams Framework”.

    • Set up daily interactive meetings
    • Sustain normality and camaraderie in unconventional ways
    • Prioritize virtual face-to-face contact and direct communication
    • Meet up in your digital coffee kitchen
    • Organize virtual team events
    • Allocate time for social interaction and engagement outside of work

All of the above-mentioned aspects shall be covered by our framework and many more. Since this topic is addressed by numerous experts out there, we are happy to receive any input, feedback, or other valuable information. Even anyone wanting to test parts of the Framework is highly welcome. Simply contact us via info@virtual.com.

 

 

 

 

 

Combining work and travel? Portugal ranked Nr. 1 by momondo

Munich, 24 January 2022

I was very pleased to read that Portugal has been ranked as the number one for individuals who want to combine travel and work remotely in 2022 (Link to momondo’s travel-work rank in German and in Portuguese). I myself just came back from southern Portugal a few weeks back and was – again – very pleased with the climate, the friendliness of the Portuguese people and the beaches.

Assuming there are numerous colleagues who are living and working in central or northern Europe but are not excited about wintertime and snow sports: How about spending some time in Lisbon or the Algarve by still being able to fully contribute to the work needed to be done? I think that a set-up like Virtual-T is exactly offering that. Joerg.

Comments or interested in digging deeper? I would love to get your feedback via info@virtual.com

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