Remote and flexible working is becoming the norm. More and more, candidates expect to have the option of working from home or tailoring their working hours according to their personal commitments. As long as they get the work done, it’s all good – that seems to be the way common wisdom is going at present.
And broadly speaking I agree. Broadly.
For instance, communication has to flow freely during the start-up stage. The questions come thick and fast and it’s imperative to discuss them when they’re asked. This needs more than a virtual water-cooler culture. This means an environment where we have constant access to each other – and our virtual water coolers are not quite up to the task just yet!
“Can I just run something by you?”
“Give me two seconds… Right, shoot.”
We cannot virtually recreate that kind of exchange – where we fit in with our colleagues’ momentum while maintaining our own – as well as we need to just yet. Yet it’s a type of exchange that it essential in the start-up phase.
For remote and flexible working to be a good idea, your organisation must know where it’s going. During the start-up stage, your teams may not even know what the work is or what their roles are supposed to be! Think of your company now as a very young child, asking Why? Why? Why? That questioning needs to be embraced – and it cannot be when we’re all in different places.
I mention trust. This is not about a lack of trust. In bringing people on board to your start-up, you’re already showing a lot of trust. As mentioned, to a large extent you’re trusting them to invent their own work. You’re trusting them to not choose the easy thing – which would result in stagnation – and instead to do the hard thing, resulting in growth.
And as described in this Forbes article, “what worked yesterday barely works today and will likely fail tomorrow. Our systems and processes need to continually adapt to the reality of not only where we are currently, but where we’re going”.
You can’t fail fast when your team can’t dial in to meetings because of a patchy wi-fi connection or dodgy speaker. People will end up persevering with things they should be abandoning.
Eventually you can move to a place of clarity, with well-defined long-term goals and far fewer meetings – that is when remote and flexible working does not represent too much risk. This is when, to paraphrase this Fast Company piece, your team members know what work needs to be done, and you trust them to get it done.