Remote work: about the new culture of trust, the agile way of working and the virtual after-work beer

Lismarie Paschon
It was a bit frowned upon by some, and yet for other people it was quite common. But before March 2020, nobody thought that in a large number of companies most of the staff would be only working out of their homes. The coronavirus crisis has led us through a drastic course in remote working. The very foundations of the world of work have been transformed, turned upside down and redefined. Now the challenge is to draw the lessons from all of this, and to equip the workforce for the future.

The triad of tools, skills and culture are required for successful remote working. The technical infrastructure comprises the basis for this. Notebooks, an IT infrastructure with remote access possibilities, collaboration tools and cloud services are the necessary technical prerequisites to ensure that the collaboration between the home and any place in the world can function correctly.

A company that had not yet implemented this at the start of the lockdown had to quickly catch up. The next step was to develop the skills enabling the clever use off the infrastructure. This means not only being familiar with the functionalities of a program, but also deploying it in a suitable manner.

Those organisations and teams which had already established agile working before the coronavirus crisis were particularly successful, in light of the fact that daily contact and the necessary level of transparency comprise the recipe for success underlying remote working. The tools require skills as well as the methodical competence to alsowork together creatively and virtually in workshops, adapted to a digital format.

Interactive collaboration can be practiced in spite of the existing physical distances, for example in workshops with virtual boards which can be worked on in real time, or with engagement tools for surveys and the like. In addition to content-related cooperation, informal interaction should not be neglected. In this regard, joint virtual coffee breaks or a rendezvous for an after-work drink have proven their value. The important thing is to stay on the ball and schedule these regular touchpoints in order to make sure that the cohesion in the team does not get lost.

However, the biggest change has been a cultural one, namely on the part of the executives and employees. Many executives have realised that the physical presence of employees is not a criterion for successful work. The new currency in leadership is called trust, and the outcome is the basis for evaluating the performance of employees.

Over the last few years, many companies have found themselves facing this cultural shift. The radical nature of the coronavirus crisis massively accelerated this process. Clearly communicated and shared goals are essential for success along with executives who set an example and are present in the virtual working process. This is something that has become a leadership task even more than in the past.

The first phase of the coronavirus crisis involved challenges, similar to the current situation. For one thing, it is imperative to understand the learnings, namely what worked, what didn’t, what do we want to set up in the future and how we want to and must integrate remote working into our world of work. How can we improve virtual and physical collaboration?

Meetings in meeting rooms but with more colleagues connected via videoconferencing are the reality today and will continue to accompany us in the future. How can be efficiently work together in the real and virtual worlds and link them with each other?

These are all challenges which we will master in the coming weeks and months in our daily doing with the help of supportive tools, skills and the related culture. Now it is essential to leverage these changes which were “forced“ upon us by the crisis to drive a positive change process in our working environment.

Lismarie Paschon
Talent & Organisation Lead, Accenture Österreich

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