10 Tips to Avoid Assumptions about Remote Work

The first thing I did when I first took over the leadership of a fully remote and distributed team back in 2007, I cancelled all the free drinks and meals. Ha! I’m just kidding of course.

Remote work is really all about change. The last time our planet experienced some huge, monumental change everyone rushed out in the streets and chanted: “I love change! I love change!


In the 15 years of leading remote teams, I’ve found a few things that help with adapting to change.

1. It’s easy to assume that people think and feel like you do. Think about it. Try not to.

2. Some people will crave the office life. Others abhor it. Yet others will long for the office life but know that it can’t work for them. Just knowing that someday they may be able to return to the office gives them hope.

3. You’ve heard the old joke about we humans have two ears and one mouth? Listening is key. Make sure as chance occurs that people can share their struggles in a safe way.

4. When it comes to meetings, every minute counts. Meetings that drag on endlessly when remote or hybrid are exacerbating frustration. Planning counts. If everyone does their homework, meetings can go quickly and lots can be accomplished – there will even be plenty of time to catch up on non-work-related things which are also important.

5. Cheat! No, not THAT kind of cheating, cheat by setting up reminders on your calendar to remember important personal things about your team – like an employee’s son’s graduation party or taking a black belt test.

6. Remind yourself to acknowledge and recognize others. It’s so easy to get wrapped up in the day-to-day and forget the small things that everyone’s doing to help one another. Having a weekly reminder – let’s say, 10 minutes before you log off on Friday afternoons and hit the high-fashion clubbing scene (just kidding!) to take a moment to thank and recognize someone who’s made the world of work just a little better that week.

7. Power to the Introverts! Seriously, some people look at introversion as a weakness. It’s not, and I speak from personal experience. It may take introverts longer to come out and share what they’re thinking, but often – their contributions will help everyone adapt to change. Just make sure to ask them and explain how valuable their contributions are.

8. It’s easy to misinterpret what people are saying or how they’re feeling – even before remote and hybrid work was so prevalent. My husband’s mom used to say “Pee you later” when we left. It took us a bit to figure out she meant “See you later.” Now whenever either one of us can’t understand what the other is saying, we revert back to “Pee you later!”

9. The right medium is not always the easier medium for communication. Sure, no one wants to put on their “fancy pajamas” for that Zoom call with a client but a live video feed might be the best medium for the conversation.

10. When it comes to your own well-being, sometimes less is more. Everyone’s different. Some people thrive in absolute chaos! (Not me – chaos makes me hide under a pillow.) Most people need a space to work that’s free of distractions. You never know what people need to be the best versions of themselves unless you ask.

Remote and hybrid works is quite the buzzy topic these days but having the right processes, tools, and technology in place can make adapting to the ever-changing world makes you the modern-day super hero.

Go get ‘em Batman!

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