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.

This new data from Microsoft shows most companies new to remote work are stuck in “Synchronous Remote Work” or at Level 2 of the 5-Level remote work maturity model.

Most are trying to:

Ctrl + C (in-person ways of working)

Ctrl + V (replicate the above online)

MEETINGS: The 148% increase in meetings is a clear sign of this. A mature remote work environment has less meetings not more! In fact, in most cases meetings, if they are necessary are asynchronous.

EMAIL: Trying to use email to collaborate is a terrible experience. Instead there are vastly superior, threaded, visible to all conversations that can take place in MS Teams Channels for example. (We don’t email internally at all – all our internal conversations happen in Channels.)

CHAT: Another sure sign of Synchrounous Remote Work. To be clear chat does play a role but like with meetings in mature remote work environments there is a preference to more deliberate asynchronous written communication especially for content that needs to be preserved long-term.

DOCS: This is likely the only encouraging thing about the data, as working collaboratively on a document with colleagues is way more efficient than emailing it around. Also with an online document you have a single source of truth.

For teams that are wanting to embrace remote work on a permanent basis, and most smart leadership teams will do so, it does require a brief pause to:

  1. Learn what the long established remote work practices are and
  2. Analyze how these can be integrated into their business.

This is the only way to ensure long-term sustainable remote work.