Navigating the Ever Changing Requirements of Remote Work

John Abraham

John Abraham

Co-founder, Haymaker

John has been in sales leadership for much of his career.  He learned how to manage his remote team effectively with considerations for each person’s remote situation.

In 2005, I was managing an inside sales team in Austin, TX. My team partnered with outside strategic reps who were out in the field and would only come to the office for monthly meetings. I remember thinking how it would drive me nuts if I didn’t have face time with each of my team members every day. I was convinced if they weren’t in the office, they weren’t working. Keep in mind this was back when companies didn’t regularly issue laptops to any employee who wasn’t senior management, so my theory wasn’t too far off, but the notion that you could be productive outside the office was lunacy.

Flash forward almost two decades. The world is in the grip of a potential global catastrophe and companies who hadn’t already changed their perspective on remote work were quickly forced to adjust. Suddenly, remote work became the only answer for millions of companies around the world. Within a relatively short time period, remote work, what was previously/ formerly the enemy of accountability, became the hero of the moment and every company in the world that experienced the benefit of a flexible work model made it a permanent policy for their employees – and the world rejoiced!

Not quite.

As vaccines became widely available and the mortality rate of the virus declined, companies were suddenly faced with a dilemma: how to proceed with remote work. The Coronavirus pandemic accelerated the adoption of a new work model and companies that never had a formal policy around in-person attendance were forced to adopt one.  Some companies decided to offer a “remote-friendly” policy which allows employees to work outside of the office at least part of the time. Others adopted a “remote-first” policy which assumes employees are working outside of the office almost all of the time. Other companies are still on the fence fearing innovation and culture will be compromised with a flexible work model (more on this group in another post).

If your organization is still  contemplating a remote work policy, there are many factors to consider. Beyond the physical assets required to make a shift to a flexible work arrangement (laptops, cell phones, peripherals, etc) there are also “experience” aspects. Each team member’s circumstances are different and accounting for each employee’s specific situation is important. For example, a team member who lives alone is going to have different needs from someone who is living with others, like  roommates, a partner, or even children. An employee who lives far from a central business district  and would have a longer commute to an office may have different needs than someone who lives close to one. Disabilities or other physical limitations also need to be considered.


And, while all of these factors are measurable so they can be accounted for, what about parts of the remote work experience that aren’t so easy to quantify? Several studies report that remote employees struggle with feelings of isolation, depression, a lack of inclusion and even Zoom fatigue. All of these things can negatively impact a team member’s overall well-being and lead to performance issues and  turnover.  

Here are a few tips on what you can do to help navigate the measurable and indeterminate aspects of remote work: 

1. Be Thoughtful and Inclusive with your On-boarding Process

The on-boarding process is your new team member’s first exposure to the broader company and may be their only opportunity to get a high-level understanding of the company’s vision and goals. Make sure you take the time to expose them to leaders in the company who can educate them on the audience the company serves, how the company adds value to that audience, and how their position plays an important role in that. Consider a “buddy system”someone that the new hire can count on for advice and help navigating the more esoteric aspects of working at the company.  An even better approach, if you are hiring multiple candidates,  is  new hire cohorts who can meet regularly and seek advice and guidance from one another. Recent studies have shown that the early relationships that are created within a business go a long way in determining retention and performance. These types of relationships are difficult to establish for remote workers. 

2. Create a Cadence with Your Check-ins

Consistent check-ins have proven to be an effective way to mitigate feelings of isolation among remote team members. It’s important that every team member feel that they are adding value to the company’s goals each day (because they are!). A sense of shared purpose and shared accountability is best facilitated through regularly scheduled meetings at a predetermined time. Be careful not to overdo it. Sales leaders are notorious for abusing the “quick meeting” privilege because of the fluctuating state of sales deals so make sure you stay consistent and increase frequency only if required by the circumstances.

3. Recognize One Another Publicly

Many leaders acknowledge team members when they reach a certain milestone or hit a particular goal or complete a project. There’s nothing wrong with that – but it’s also important to acknowledge some of the less ‘measurable’ activities that a team member is doing such as embracing the company’s core values. Make sure you publicly acknowledge team members when they solve a problem for a client or for another team member or when they go above and beyond.

4. “Up-level” your In-Person Time

 Another important aspect to successfully running a remote or distributed team is to meet in-person regularly. This can be difficult to do frequently depending on where your team members are located. Whether you meet once a year, once a quarter, or once a month, it’s important to make your team members feel special when you do get together. It’s common to invite your remote team to the office (if you still have an office) and then out to dinner but how impressive is your office, really? You should consider hosting your team at a nicer venue. Luxury homes, museums, art studios and other non-office-like spaces are a great alternative. Ideally, choose a space located in or near a restaurant and entertainment district where the team can easily walk to activities and  dinner for socializing. Haymaker has some fantastic options that are available by the hour and will source any type of space specific to your needs relative to budget, location, capacity and amenities.

5. Provide an Alternative to the Home Office

When you’re leading a remote team, it’s important to remember that not everyone has the same remote work accommodations. Team members with children will have different circumstances than those without kids. Those who live with a partner or roommates might have a more difficult time finding a suitable place to work in their shared dwelling. If you don’t have a permanent office for these scenarios or if you have team members that live outside of a range where it makes it practical for them to drive to the office you can use on-demand spaces to help. Once again, Haymaker offers on-demand spaces available by the hour, day for the individual worker or your teams. Spaces can be sourced near an employee’s location, so they don’t have to worry about a long commute, and can focus on their work at hand. 

I hope these tips will help you manage the ever changing requirements of the new remote work experience for you and your employees.  I created Haymaker to help solve a problem I had myself managing remote teams, and hope that you find Haymaker a helpful arrow in your quiver.  Haymaker is happy to help you develop your remote work strategy from a space perspective through our Concierge services.  Just drop me a line – I’d love to hear from you.