I'm the founder of FutureWork IQ where I spend my time assisting businesses to design digital workplaces or “offices in the cloud.” These environments enable companies to allow flexible and remote working for their teams. I also teach the digital literacy, fluency, communication and collaboration skills needed to work in these modern technology-rich workplaces.

Flexible/remote working is a mega trend and is being spurred on by technology that now allows us to work smarter. And the benefits are mounting up. To name a few:

  1. Employee happiness
  2. Productivity
  3. Access to the best talent
  4. It’s environmentally smart
  5. Office space savings

Any business that starts up in 2017 does not have to have an office. It’s a luxury not a necessity. Which is why so many chose to begin as remote-only businesses.

There are however some challenges for companies who are working in traditional brick and mortar environments and who now want to evolve or adopt this smarter way of working.

remote challenges

As the word cloud above shows the major challenges are:

  1. Staying in loop
  2. Maintaining relationships
  3. Lack of visibility
  4. Face-time with the leadership

These are real. They are also indicative of what is needed in order to successfully transition into flexible/remote working. Primarily these speak to the need to have a team that has the digital literacy and dexterity to work in a digital workplace.

As I’ve mentioned to many a team, the technology piece of a digital workplace (a requirement for flexible/remote working) is the easy part. It’s the culture and digital dexterity the workforce needs to work in this environment which is the harder part.

All four these challenges can be overcome by having the skill to “work out loud” and unless, especially the leadership, takes the lead in working out loud, then these challenges will remain.

Technology, especially the modern lifecasting tools we have at our disposable, make working out loud extremely easy and, as a result, should make the listed challenges a non-issue – BUT they need to be used daily and effectively. (Check out this example How Video Selfies Keep My Company Connected) The technology we have at our disposal puts relationship building (even at distance) on steroids and makes it possible to be very visible and hyper connected in a distributed team. There is no need to feel out the loop or to lack visibility.

In summary. To mitigate these challenges it’s necessary to 1) have a well designed digital workplace but even more importantly 2) have a team with the skills to operate in one.

(If you would like to learn how to design a flexible/remote team, reach out to us for details on our workshop entitled “Designing a Workplace for a Distributed Team” where we take you through all the steps you need to take to develop a modern workplace.)

[Picture credit: State of Remote Work 2017]