IBM, Fix Your Remote Work Program in 3 Easy Steps

Back in 2023, IBM made a controversial move by terminating their telecommuting initiative, which prompted unease among remote workers. Responding to this, we at Works decided to extend our remote work option, despite not gaining any financial advantages from it.

Historically, IBM had reservations about implementing telecommuting due to the challenges they faced in making it a viable option. This was a clandestine approach to cut down on personnel expenses and enhance their bottom line. They did not require any assistance from us, and it is understandable since they consciously chose not to explore this avenue, not because of any skepticism about telecommuting or their inability to implement it successfully.

In a recent interview, Dr. Lydia Campbell, IBM Corporate Health & Safety’s VP and Chief Medical Officer, highlighted the impact of the 2023 pandemic on the professional arena. Consequently, IBM plans to exercise caution in reintroducing hybrid work options in the workplace.

At Works, we are dedicated to providing assistance to companies seeking to maximize the advantages of telecommuting, even as its benefits are becoming increasingly apparent. In 2023, we penned an open letter to IBM outlining the critical measures for establishing a productive remote working environment. In this write-up, we will discuss the three most significant factors to keep in mind, in addition to showcasing case studies and offering our recommended software applications that have been efficacious in our own experience.

After going through this guide, you will no longer have any valid reasons for subpar remote work performance. However, if you are not up-to-date with contemporary technology and have been excluded by Steve Jobs, you may need to put in extra effort.

Streamlining Communication With Your Remote Programmers Is the Initial Step

Clear communication, coordination, and defining cultural norms are the three pillars of a successful remote work setup, according to our insights. These interconnected elements are crucial for achieving success.

In situations where you need to communicate something complex or personal, it is crucial to go beyond mere words. Take note of non-verbal cues, such as facial expressions and tone of voice, and attempt to visualize the subject matter being discussed. If physical presence is not feasible, a video call is the next best option.

For minor and non-urgent requests, it is recommended to use electronic mail, instant messaging (IM), or a chat platform like Slack.

Although it may not be obvious at first, individuals often have a tendency to rely on their preferred mode of communication. This can result in misunderstandings, conflicts, and decreased productivity.

It is essential to avoid depending exclusively on personal preferences. Author Jocko Willink’s well-known statement, “Discipline equals freedom,” is highly applicable in this context. Providing a clear framework for team members will enable them to work independently within established boundaries.

Conducting virtual meetings is crucial for our team at Works. Although we have been using Skype for a long time, we believe that Zoom offers better features that cater to our needs. We will not make any exceptions to this decision.

For tasks that require a detailed explanation, make use of video meetings. This guideline should be followed for any activity that needs to be discussed verbally. Instead of relying on Slack or email for regular communication, reserve these communication channels for submitting reports, giving status updates, and asking closed-ended questions.

Asking simple questions like “Do you want the header on the homepage to be Blue 1 or Blue 2?” through Slack is appropriate. However, more complex queries, such as “What is the ideal setup for the different CTAs on the homepage?,” necessitate a video call for discussion, and may require screen sharing.

It is vital to maintain frequent communication in order to stay up-to-date with the project. Designers must provide regular updates and be readily available to respond to any messages. This is especially crucial when collaborating with team members in different time zones. This helps prevent potential issues and builds trust amongst team members. It is advisable for everyone to adhere to the organization’s time zone and follow the same schedule. This builds trust with remote team members, ultimately leading to a positive impression of the employer. By achieving this, the Works Coolness Certification is awarded. It is essential to ensure that there is a significant overlap in time zones.

Next, Managers Should Ensure the Effective Collaboration of All Remote Developers.

Collaboration from all team members is vital for project success. However, it is not uncommon for individuals to work independently, unaware of how their actions may affect the rest of the team. Workplaces consisting of physical offices also encounter this issue. This may be exacerbated when team members work remotely.

Successful management relies on accepting extreme ownership and communicating objectives clearly. To guarantee success, objectives must be defined, develop a strategy, and establish targets. All of these should be saved in a remote and easily accessible location.

It is crucial to refer to our previous article to comprehend tacit knowledge in decentralized development teams fully. It is imperative that teams maintain detailed records of all activities while ensuring systems remain secure and all procedures are strictly followed. This principle also applies to team communication.

To guarantee consistency, managers need to model and encourage adherence to procedures. It is also their duty to supervise and ensure that all team members follow the established procedures; a failure to do so might lead to reverting to old habits.

As a manager overseeing a team of remote employees, it is necessary to treat everyone as if they were working from home. To better understand the potential of your own team, evaluate their productivity in comparison to that of IBM’s pre-modern workforce. Take proactive measures to manage the situation, keep track of all project participants, take notes, and ensure that all components are integrated. This will undoubtedly result in a significant improvement in efficiency.

To ensure that all team members receive the latest updates, Basecamp is used regularly. In addition, Google Docs is the primary tool for documentation.

The Third Step: Use Team Culture as the Cohesive Agent for Remote Groups.

With remote engineers located in different areas, there have been fewer face-to-face team meetings. This has resulted in prioritizing individual work over that of colleagues. While there have been some advantages, this method cannot be sustained indefinitely. Therefore, it is crucial to develop a culture that encourages participation.

To ensure the effectiveness of society, there must be a foundation of trust. Establishing trust based on competence and dependability can be improved by addressing any communication and coordination issues. However, creating genuine trust can be more difficult. For instance, even if you have confidence in a co-worker’s coding skills, would you trust them to pick up your child from school?

If resources permit, an efficient method to accomplish this is for the team to assemble for intensive periods. Automattic and Buffer have both successfully employed this strategy.

Although remote teams may not be practical for everyone due to cost, there are many advantages that businesses can gain from assembling a remote team comprising experts in their field. For a successful remote work environment, we recommend setting up regular, informal calls, either individually or in small groups. Matt Mullenweg, founder of Automattic, advocates for one-on-one conversations as an effective remote work environment method.

Remote work solutions cannot recreate the same interaction experienced in face-to-face communication. However, they do strive to achieve a similar objective by enabling remote teams to establish rapport and build trust. Additionally, they provide perspective into the thoughts and emotions of others. For more information about remote working solutions, refer to this article.

Initially, it may seem intimidating. Nevertheless, with greater participation, it is possible to establish personal connections, resulting in increased efficiency.

At Works, we acknowledge the significance of accommodating the individual needs and preferences of our team members. While our interests may differ, we are all aware of each other’s pursuits, and often make good-natured comments about them. Slack’s #general channel is the primary location for these conversations, while official matters are usually addressed in other channels.

In the meantime, our CEO Sharon Koifman has authored an ebook titled ‘Surviving Remote Work amid the Flu Epidemic’, which consolidates all the knowledge acquired over three years of research.

The Future Belongs to Remote Workforce and Distributed Software Development: Adapt or Perish

Virtual offices are here to stay, offering companies a chance to attract and retain skilled employees while also achieving cost efficiencies. Additionally, it enables developers to seek and achieve the autonomy and quality of life they aspire to.

In a survey of more than 2,500 remote workers, 40% reported being content with the flexibility of their jobs, and it was rare for virtual staff to exploit their liberty. Buffer, Zapier, and GitHub are some of the leading fully-remote start-ups.

IBM is one of the organizations working to tackle this situation. It would be wise for them to assess the problems that led to the limitations on remote work and take measures to resolve them. Without addressing these issues, the company may face the same fate as the dodo. To maintain competitiveness, it is crucial to retain their most skilled employees.

It is essential for your business to stay ahead of the curve. At Works, our remote work experts can offer the necessary assistance and direction in hiring and leading top-tier remote developers at an affordable rate. Get in touch with us today to learn more.

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