Contributed by Vivienne Shakespeare-Reynolds, CoolMarket
The term remote work and study has become ubiquitous as high-speed internet and the changing lifestyle of the workforce become the order of the day. I’ve long upheld the notion that working or studying remotely engenders tremendous flexibility and productivity but if not managed well, can result in disconnection, disengagement, low team morale, low productivity and can eventually railroad an organization. On the other hand, many individuals feel that remote work leads to many positive results.  

It’s unsurprising that there has been a reported 44% increase in remote work over the past 5 years according to https://www.flexjobs.com/blog/post/remote-work-statistics/. After COVID-19 I suspect that this number will double and maybe even triple as more organizations are forced to adjust to reduce the potential spread while remaining productive. 

In this article I will talk about remote work from a management perspective and why I have a positive and welcoming attitude towards this shift. 

My Remote Work Culture

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My passion for remote work was born out of necessity when I became a leader of digital businesses locally and globally, and started working and interacting more with millennials. My keen interest in understanding what makes a person tick and appreciating the nuances of diverse behaviours and cultures also helped to convert me. 

My priority is productivity and so I have a vested interest in the best environment that will enable an individual to produce optimum results. In my experience, the office environment can no longer be looked at as one size fits all. We lost a valuable creative team member because of this. While I understand the merits of the structured approach of an office setting, I have a number of individuals on my team that produce their best work when they work remotely. The minute they hit the office, distractions abound and productivity goes through the door. So I allow many on my team the flexibility of working in their most productive setting, whether from the office, coffee shop, home, park bench, car, garage or elsewhere. 

Digital Connectivity

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In my opinion, our organization provides robust IT support to enable remote work. Our IT department constantly reinforces the power of technology and encourages team members to move from apprehension to acceptance. Every individual is provided with a laptop and smartphone at orientation and trained on the dos and don’ts of our secure IT culture. Telephone calls are routed to our desk phones and if unanswered, they are automatically redirected to our cell phones. Emails are an integral part of the Cool Culture. Every employee is outfitted with an email address at the outset which facilitates quick communication. Our secure VPN (Virtual Private Network) is second to none. Through this network we can access, share and save important files that are required to execute our jobs. For remote meetings, we utilize a plethora of video conferencing applications including Zoom, Cisco Webex, Google Hangout, Skype and Gotomeeting, to name a few.

Team Connection

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Lastly, I strongly believe in the power of accountability and trust and the impact it can have on facilitating a team-centric environment. 

One of the worst things that could happen to an organization is to lose touch with the team or have them feel disconnected in any way. I have regular planned and unplanned meet up sessions with my direct reports like this one at Miss Ts Restaurant in Ocho Rios to ensure a degree of camaraderie and togetherness. The daily phone calls and WhatsApp chats are in place and we have weekly office days and monthly meetings.

I encourage remote work as a modern avenue to optimize productivity while prioritizing employees as individuals who operate differently. With robust protocols for task management and check-ins, you too can make your organization remote-work friendly.