Forget “allowing” remote work — it’s time to focus on enabling remote productivity

In the technology space, the allowing remote work has become default — you’re going to stand out if you don’t allow it. Remote work simply needs to be on the table for you to hire the best people. And allowing the flexibility provides huge payback: the benefits are well documented.
What I’ve learned in my current role is that remarkably simple tweaks can completely change the remote experience. It really comes from a simple rule that I can claim no credit for whatsoever:

whenever someone is remote, we treat all meetings as if everyone is remote.

This results in an office that sometimes looks a bit silly, as two engineers sitting next to each other might have a conversation back and forth while staring at their screens and wearing headphones, but the impact is enormous. We’re not allowing remote work, we’re finding ways to make remote work no barrier to working and communicating effectively.
The practice for the team has been to notify everyone on our team slack channel at some point in the morning when you’re working from home (if that’s not your default). No need to check in advance, just let us know. In fact, there are many people on the team who let everyone know in the same channel when they’re in the office. The early morning conversation is largely “WFH” or “WFO” posts.
Although there are some reasons that working remotely is difficult for me personally (mostly that I have pre-school-aged twins) I’ve found now when I work from home I’m able to communicate and collaborate just as effectively as I can from the office. Sure there are some exceptions — meetings with other teams is a big one — but overall, I’ve found that working from home is suddenly easy as a leader — I don’t have to cancel or move meetings or 1:1s around. Even if I was in the office, there’s a good chance that anyone else in a given meeting will be remote. And I’ve started to discover that there are certain types of work (catching up on email, bureaucratic tasks, writing or preparing presentations) that work much better for me when I’m at home, even with the twins periodically stopping in to see what I’m up to.
I’m reasonably sure that there are other simple tweaks that can help just as much, and I’ll keep looking for them. What works for your team?

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