With Microsoft’s announcement to offer the option of working from home permanently, alongside a hybrid scenario of going back to the office, it is now a time, and all of our responsibilities to create a new paradigm for how we WILL do our work. We have been in limbo, and now Microsoft, along with other companies, is taking the lead to offer working remotely, as a permanent option. People are making life decisions to live in different locations that are not tied to being in a city, or close to their work. As a result, there are a variety of components that need to be addressed with consciousness and intention, not only structurally from a tax, and cost of living perspective that create equity, but more importantly, how we lead more consciously, and work more intentionally. These are actions that are going to determine balance, equity and synergy, and long-term behavioral change for the better.
The art of aligning a strategy that addresses the heart, purpose of individuals, and allowing for people to lead with creativity for inspired action, takes intention and courage as a leader, as well as for individuals, who make the collective. The space to develop self-awareness, learning and growth, combined with a strategic structure to do our best work together is what is going to create balance, engagement, and synergy. Conscious leadership comes down to looking after the body, mind and soul of self and others, and need to be treated as top priorities, in alignment together.
We talk about developing the mindset of resilience and growth, and it is each of our own responsibilities to develop the curiosity and discipline to do this, and not to rely only on our leaders to do this for us. This is about self-discipline, accountability, having a sense of purpose, and drive to learn and grow. In addition, our leaders must be a model of consciousness, and empower others to develop self-awareness by providing opportunities and support to help to develop a framework, and discipline for a new way of being.
As conscious leaders or leaders in life, we must be deeply connected to a purpose in a way that goes beyond personal benefit, and ourselves. In order for this be done consciously and effectively, we need develop know our WHY we are doing what we do (purpose), and align with HOW we do doing our work (our values). Having worked in, and lead remote teams over the past 10 years, I learned that it is critical to be more intentional about how we engage, communicate, and prioritize and these values to be lived in every interaction, meeting, and communication. It is also critical to know why we get up everyday, individually and collectively. This is what keeps us going and the clarity on values, and purpose manifest into positive, impactful actions. Now more than ever, we need to be more responsible and aware of our actions and why we do what we do, and how we do our work, take care of ourselves, as well as how we engage with each other. Creating rituals and structure around how we live out values and purpose daily, is essential for engagement, alignment, and impact.
I have talked to many leaders, clients, and friends recently and asking them what their the challenges have been over the past 7 months and brainstorming ways that we can shift to a new way of working, and being in order to build a synergistic, high performing teams, as we are distributed across different time zones and locations. The themes have been, whether for an employee, team, or leader to focus on the shifting the lens to focus on RESULTS and IMPACT, versus activity and time. It’s not about “running lean” or “ragged”, or how much time you are working, or online that determine success, it is being empowered to work in a way that aligns within one’s biorhythm, personality, and circumstance, which creates equity and balance.
It may take some time to adjust how we measure performance, especially if we are not able to “see” activity day to day. As a leader, and employee it is important to build confidence, trust, and accountability with each other in order for impact to manifest. Allowing for people to be flexible for when they do their best work is done effectively if there is a culture of follow through, and ownership. Clear expectations must be co-created, communicated, and agreed upon around what success means, and then lived out, day to day.
Also, expectations established for when people are offline, focus time, and personal time, must be outlined, and respected. As a leader, modeling this is critical people to shift a to a new paradigm and move from feeling under a microscope for activity, but to empowering others to be self-driven for impact.
As an employee, it is a responsibility to develop self-awareness, be an advocate for self, and create visibility to showcase your work and impact, as well as the work of others. Because we are not together in one office, we need to support and elevate each other, versus being isolation. Being intentional to create time and space for effectively giving and receiving feedback to each other, building relationships through taking time to connect, and developing self-awareness is critical for our own success, and for happiness, growth, and contribution to building synergistic, high-performing teams.
It is about how leaders make it equitable, flexible, and scaleable for everyone, given each person has a different way of working, set of circumstances, values and needs. Whether taking care of kids, elderly or parents, managing our well-being and mental health, or being single, or a couple without dependencies, being an introvert, or extravert, or cultural differences, it is important to understand and allow for each person to do determine how and when they do their best work, making for a diverse and inclusive culture. As a leader, co-creating as a team, or organization a collective set of parameters can help in making space for equity and synergy.
Leaders need to co-create with their teams, and individuals must feel empowered to contribute, and drive a new culture forward. These are some practices, that when developed and put into place, help to create impactful, and synergistic teams, in a virtual environment:
1. Creating a purpose driven culture with a clear, and collaborative definition of team purpose and values and living them out everyday across multiple time zones, and demographics
2. Scheduled, consistent stand-ups with a communicated purpose, not just status
3. Building confidence and trust through accountability, ownership, and follow through
4. No meeting day, and meaning it, and respecting others boundaries
5. Focus time where one does not need to respond to email, or be online
6. Hours established that one needs to be online, or available across multiple time zones
7. Consistent one on one’s are that not just about status, but how one is doing, their wins, and challenges, and how one is learning and growing towards a clear set of goals
8. Scheduled time for building relationships, just connecting with team, and larger org creating authentic visibility and intentional relationships
9. Giving and receiving constructive feedback often, and knowing how do it effectively, helps with knowing where you stand
10. Establishing priorities to support a purpose and mission, creating initiatives that support this, and focusing discussions on tradeoffs, versus trying to do it all
11. Scheduled “Water cooler time” and just connecting, and time for those who want to be onsite to have time to just have fun
12. Intentional communication around “rules of engagement “for healthy discussion in a virtual team setting
13. Creating a forum for communicating strongly and transparently across multiple groups making, ensuring everyone is on the same page, and aware
14. Offering and taking advantage of resources and support for building a resilient mindset, self awareness and mindful communication necessary for authentic relationships, and creating space for self-care
15. Creating physiological safety where people can share ideas and diverse perspectives, be empowered to take risks and execute, make mistakes without blame
16. Developing EMPATHY, not just lip service, and giving people space for what they are going through
17. Creating a time and space for “acclaim” or “praise” for self, and others to help create visibility for work well done, and giving kudos to others.
Whether for engineering org, early career, or any group, team, or organization, a leader or employee, these are universal practices that with a framework, support, and coaching can create long term, behavioral change in this new normal. Each of us has the responsibility to drive, and contribute to create positive, sustainable change. These just some of the variables that need to be thought about differently to create true shifts in how we work, takes more intention, and structure in a virtual environment. This is a cultural shift, and operating in a new paradigm can take some time to adjust. We are all learning to create a formula that is adaptable, and scaleable. If we can continue to pivot along the way with open dialogue, empathy, constructive feedback, and most importantly, support to create a framework and strategy, we will succeed in our new normal of working remotely, or in a hybrid.
The past 7 months have been challenging, and enlightening. It has pushed all of us to adapt, pivot, and change our way of working, and being, especially now that we are given the option to work remotely permanently. I have designed a workshop series that incorporates a framework, methodology, that helps participants to shift mindset, develop and articulate their WHY, and use a formula and practices that help individuals, teams, groups, and organizations to create conscious, purpose-driven, inclusive, and equitable cultures, based on confidence and trust. Please reach out for more information, and together we can customize a workshop series and program that embraces working remotely with balance, equity, flexibility, and synergy.