As well settle into the future of work which will likely include remote working for a significant amount of time, a lot of things are changing as far as leadership goes. Many companies have proven that remote working can be just as effective, if not more effective, than in-person work. And we’re seeing this through big, sweeping gestures, like Twitter announcing that they going fully remote even after the pandemic is over.
As we settle into this new reality, we need to example how remote working will help us, or what needs to be created in order for our teams to continue to thrive.
At Kin, we’ve been remote for more than half of the company’s existence. Our motto is to work where you’re happiest, and it’s proven to curate a wonderful team across the United States. Here’s a few things we’ve learned, and ideas we’re still pondering as we continue down our company’s path.
There’s more to hiring
When you hire someone in an office, there are a lot of social cues that you will pick up from the in-person meeting. However, when you’re hiring someone 100% remotely, there’s some things that you might miss.
In order to account for this at Kin, we spend a lot of time with each candidate that we want to bring on. We have multiple layers for hiring that include different ways to see the candidate communicate. For example we begin each interview with a phone screen, then move to a written assignment, then move to a group interview via video chat, then likely move to a one-on-one video chat.
We want to be able to see the candidate communicate in different formats so we have a better understanding of how they might react in different situations day-by-day. Ultimately, communication in remote-working places is a make-or-break skill. We try to test it as much as possible with candidates before we make a job offer.
You can see a more in depth look as to how we hire in one of our latest blog posts here.
Leaders will have to promote engagement from miles away
Many leaders have currently been thrust into remote leadership, and while it may not have been their choice at first, they’ll need to quickly be able to lead thoroughly and strongly from afar. This means learning how to build relationships through video chat, understanding cues on a phone call that we may not have had to look for before, and ensuring their team is well taken care of even if they can’t be physically next to them.
Remote working often gets the reputation that it’s easier than reporting to an office. While this may be true for some positions, for leadership roles it creates more challenges, and frankly, more opportunities. We have to be more acutely aware of what is happening with our teammates. We can no longer brush off a bad mood, or disengagement for a week, because we know that person is going through something due to our close physical proximity and off-the-cuff water-cooler chats. Now, we have to take relationship building more seriously and with a much more deliberate approach.
Leadership training will begin to incorporate this. Feedback loops will be more important than ever, and the annual review will no longer cut it. I wouldn’t be surprised to see courses and virtual workshops pop-up on how to better manage a team remotely.
Leaders will find ways to make creative space for their team
One thing all remote teams occasionally struggle with is finding a way to be serendipitously creative. It happens often in offices around a water cooler, or through an in-person brainstorming session with a bunch of Post-it notes. It’s a little bit harder to have happened on a whim while working remotely.
Remote workers often have a much more structured schedule than those in an office to stay on track. It’s hard to just “pop in” on a remote worker compared to someone with a physical office.
Moving forward, it will take focused effort to create these moments that lead to breakout ideas and evolution of companies and processes. it doesn’t mean that it can’t happen though. Just like engaging employees from afar, this will just be another opportunity for us to reimagine the way that we’ve done work for years and years.
Leaders will have to think about the next big “startup hubs”
Remote working drives a lot of change. We’re seeing rental rates drop in San Francisco because of it, and we’re noticing startup hubs pop up in the most unlikely of places. Suburb and rural locations with semi-convenient access to airports are quickly becoming some of the most thriving areas in the United States. Even though remote working doesn’t dictate the need for an office, it’s important to understand what’s happening around us and especially within our industries.
Leaders working in these new environments will have to keep a pulse on what’s happening across the United States. I firmly believe that we’ll see more and more small towns benefit from remote working. Whether they become the hub of a certain type of startup or they just benefit from the tax dollars of an employee working remotely in a small city while being paid a big city salary, we are going to see a resurgence in these areas. Companies who work remotely may be able to take advantage of this, either by recruiting from these small towns to help them thrive by driving down unemployment with white collar positions or by putting hubs in these small towns at a lower cost of entry compared to big cities. Either way, this movement will be a major win for small towns and startups alike.