April 2021 > Originally posted on Medium
Remote Work in Europe ... 3 Tips
The last 12 months has forced a new way of working upon many of us.
With offices closed down, almost everyone has been working remotely.
However, there are plenty of teams with tried, tested and proven
practices which really help to make a distributed workplace a
Here are three tips to boost transitioning to a distributed
1. Stop the Busy-ness
Replace the "time spent at the office" with judging,
measuring and rewarding the actual value of the work. Without any
strict "office hours", workers will no longer need to fill
their days with stuff just to appear busy all the time. With everyone
acting busy, many offices have often been a place of distractions
where it was near impossible to get actual stuff done.
Make a clear switch by firmly putting the focus on tasks rather than
time. Everyone’s calendar should be private, to avoid replicating this
busy-ness, calendar-tetris game in a distributed workplace. Avoid
padding calendars with Zoom meetings, instead share task lists to show
who is working on what.
The Open Source world is a perfect example because most of them have
always worked in a distributed way. Tasks are prioritised, shared and
picked up by collaborators, the workers.
Note: an unfortunate side-effect with a lack of clear office hours is
that some people are actually working longer and risk burning out. So,
set shared working hours and never expect or contact people outside
these time blocks to allow and encourage everyone to truly switch
2. Support Hybrid Workplaces
It appears that workers enjoy working from home and many have
indicated they will prefer to continue to do so even after offices are
allowed to open up again. The time and energy saved by avoiding a
daily commute to the office has been a real blessing. Productivity
analysis has shown that for most things it doesn't matter at all
where the work is done.
Companies will need to rethink not just how much office space they
need, but more importantly where working spaces are needed and what
functions these spaces should serve. Support people who have the room
at their home with adequate equipment for their home office. Provide
those who lack a quiet dedicated space at home with the option to go
to satellite offices closer to where they live, or grant access to
Whilst most work can be perfectly done remotely, being in the same
room will greatly benefit certain work activities. Repurpose some
office space specifically for these types of group activities.
The workplace is for many also a place to connect socially with
colleagues. Make sure to get teams together in-person on a regular
basis. A strong personal connection between team members builds trust
and boosts future virtual collaboration. Since a lot of work is done
remotely, these get-togethers should not just be about work. Place the
focus on team building and having a bit of fun.
3. Embrace Diversity
Attract talent based mainly on aptitude, communication skills and
relative time zone. This way a much larger talent pool has the
potential to truly boost diversity. Workers can be fluid in their
location on where to live, greatly impacting their cost of living and
quality of life.
Europe is a melting pot of rich cultures a numerous languages. Many
professionals will join the talent pool when it is no longer required
to uproot one's family and social lives. To level the playing
field for non-natives, establish English - the de-facto international
business language - as the shared working language and provide tools
to better document and communicate. For all virtual meetings enforce
everyone joins individually to avoid any missed conversations for
those who are co-located.
Distributed work relies more on written, versioned, English
documentation to enable asynchronous work. This documentation has the
added benefit of providing a transparent record what work was done,
when and by whom. A transparent document trail also shows what
information was available at the time of a decision, reducing any bias
These are obviously many other aspects to consider. However, one thing
is very clear: copying how things have always been done really needs
to change for an effective distributed workplace.