The Ultimate Remote Work Policy (In 3 Words)
With corona virus hitting the world, it seems impossible to open a browser or app without remote work tips being shoved down your throat. From the random corners of the internet all kinds of self-proclaimed experts share 'ideas' as if they were rocket science.
Three little words
Screw the so-called tips. The one thing you need to do well as an organization is summed up in policy that looks like this: "We trust you."
We trust you. That's all. There's nothing more to it. Support your staff in whatever it is they need and stop treating them like kids.
Remote micromanagement at work
If you're looking for a great example of what trust does not look like, here's inspiration from the Wall Street Journal...
And this is a company with highly educated journalists covering the world's most complex topics? Asking staff to let their manager know when they are about to take a dump?
The Ultimate Remote Work Policy (In 3 Words)
It becomes painfully clear we have a long way to go to turn organizations into liberated, engaging, and inspiring workplaces!
There is another approach
For positive inspiration, it's always a good idea to look at the guys and girls at Basecamp. Here's a proper approach to a crisis like this:
In other words: "We trust you".
Nothing reveals character like a crisis. As many organizations are in the midst of crisis right now, what examples (good and bad) have you come across?
Drop them in the comments below.
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"One thing I wanted to reinforce is that the health of you and your family are the primary priority here with all the actions we have asked you to take.
For those people that are scheduled to be in the office but if you feel uncomfortable travelling on public transport or you are showing any symptoms of a cold / flu or if you need to stay home to care for a person, you have my full support to work from home."
'Unfortunately anxiety is always open for business' this struck a powerful chord with me.
For all the amazing things media, social media and the web can give us including the power of communication, information and connection, I think this sentence shows what can also happen and it can be exasperated by all of these wonderful things. Keeping business messages authentic, simple, human and supportive can be a real help in tough times.
I am happy that my company trust me. All employees are receiving daily tips how to better work from home not, like from WSJ. It is no longer 9 to 5. Many of us right now staying with kids at home and have to organize a day not only around work but home schooling. I just hople that many the practices will stay in the company after epidemic. More flexible working hours, more working from home (now it is limited), less bureaucracy, less strict procedures for everything, less printing.
First of all Joost and Pim, thank you for your very inspiring book. It was long in coming but worth the wait !! :)
I think i would add 2 words and an exclamation point to your suggested ultimate work policy: "Of course we trust you!" . "I Trust You" often implies a bit of a threat: "I trust you and so you'd better not violate it or else..." Real trust is letting go of any control knowing that the person will not harm you when you are vulnerable.
again, thank you.
Hey :) I'm in France and I work for a swiss company, www.ricardo.ch. And we had exactly the same communication as Basecamp: do what you can, but your top priority is your family. No need for you to use your holidays. We will cover you even if you cannot do all your. hours.
That's so great to have this trust. It gives the employees more security and I really think it's a win-win way to do.
This is just the experience some leaders and businesses need to show them that they can embrace new ways of working and get the same or more results out of their teams. It forces the hand of those who don't trust! It could change the way some teams work for ever (and that's a good thing)
great extracts to share with our clients - for them to feel what will boost people and their productivity and creativity (and continue business as usual as much as possible with kids at home), and what will hijack their amygdala and possibly lead to disengagement/working out of obligation(or not).
One thing I'd like to add - if for some reason work slows down in your industry or company, use the time to learn, learn, learn - so much time for learning is a blessing, and afterwards we will all be in a position to thrive more than ever before.
Happy retreating into your homes and families - keep sharing what beautiful things happen there! What has become possible from working at home?
I TRUST ME
Finally, we are almost all in a situation where proven methods no longer work. Where routine in the quick assessment of people based on behavioural observations no longer works. In remote mode we can no longer observe the employees directly, we don't know what they are doing exactly, we now suspect a lot based on the images we have collected in the "normal working world". These pictures are no longer current, we do not have new ones. We are groping in the dark. We no longer understand the reactions of the employees, we can no longer read them with the "old" parameters. Why?
Because in "crisis mode" people listen more and more to their intrinsic needs, because they act more and more in their "natural way". Because they ask themselves why, because they observe the environment closely and immediately question it with the inner filter for credibility. Who really helps, who is with me, who protects me, who is serious, who appreciates me, who can I trust. Yes, we are more vulnerable now than in business, we have come to the essence of our emotional DNA. Instinct, emotion, intrinsic purpose. On this level we are ALONE: we are with US. What each of us feels, feels, has planned, tried, experimented is unique and deeply connected to our individual values. If the leader cannot pick us up right here, he will lose his credibility. Then he will lose our willingness to perform. Then we switch to pull-through. With immense damage for us, the team, the family, the organization.
Only when I understand and accept this inner level Only when I accept that every employee experiences the situation differently. Only when I accept that many experience the situation quite differently than I do. Only then can I go from the I to the WE.
WE TRUST YOU
Therefore, dear PIM, your sentence WE TRUST YOU is so deep and important! Thank you for it.
There is an individual map from the research of Prof. Dr. Steven Reiss to commit yourself as a leader, especially now in remote mode, with the emotional situation of our employees, our team. A simple online questionnaire in everyday language gives us the chance to assess what is going on in our employees individually now. In his research he has found out that we all strive for 16 intrinsic motives. That is universally true. But what is much more important: each of us into a very individual intensity. The stronger the intensity, the stronger the emotions, the stronger the desire, the goal. For some the avoidance, for others the desire for more. This is exactly what our employees experience in remote mode. An emotional charge. For some, the crisis is a signal for pain and therefore avoidance. For others it is a signal of joy and therefore allowing. Leadership in a crisis must move to the emotional level before it gives rational answers. If we are designed for this level, then ONE SIZE FIT ALL is finally extinct. People are unique and need their own ecological niche to flourish. To find this niche, to accept, to promote, to develop is lived leadership: WE TRUST YOU! AS YOU ARE!
I do a lot of soft skill training Another good resource is mindtools.com, lots of FREE bite-sized content and relatively cheap premium content that your company would probably pay for if you ask.
For remote working use search words “remote” and “virtual” there,, and you can see specifically what skills will be most useful now. Happy life-long learning!
We first visited Haier headquarters in Qingdao, China in 2017. We enjoyed an extended conversation with CEO Zhang Ruimin. He told us "there is no such thing as a successful company. There are only companies that move with the times". Those words intrigued me. In hindsight, I never truly understood them. Now I think I do. Let me explain.
For years we've travelled the globe visiting the world's most radical organizations. We've visited more than 120 pioneers so far, and continue to learn how workplaces can be more joyful, fun, and rewarding. Today, we launch a new initiative: an initiative aimed at giving more people the opportunity to learn directly from pioneers.