The Remote Working Experiment

Has your organisation had to move to a remote working model this week? It’s been a bit of a shock for some, hasn’t it?

But no doubt, you’ve now considered IT, health and safety, employee rights and your duty of care. But have you also thought about how you will replace the social behaviours we experience in the office? And in particular how Trust is built?

People learn corporate norms by observing others’ behaviours, attitudes, and outcomes – the office provides a sort of rich, social schooling in the subject. Employees also learn about their colleagues personality and preferences by watching them, listening to what they say and understanding the subtlety of body language.

So what happens when they are not in the same room?

It’s a social learning gap you should address when your team are working from home. If you don’t, trust can break down and our experience is that misunderstandings certainly can surge. Relationships suffer, team performance will dip, tasks take much longer and without doubt, customer service will be affected.

But with a little time, effort and up-skilling Leaders can maintain engagement, collaboration and team spirit during these uncertain times.  Here are our Top Tips:


Put an interim Remote Policy in place that sets expectations and makes it crystal clear that maintaining customer experience and getting the job done is the priority in these unique circumstances.

Ask each individual to discuss and work up an agreement of how they will work together when working from home. Communicate your intended approach to keeping track of progress and their results and leave the rest to them. When you do this – Remote Working becomes self regulating.

Two Way Trust

Implement basic remote working training for both Leaders and to your remote teams as quickly as possible.  The skills of managing people and working together when they are not in the room are quite different to those needed when office based.

Basic training can include building 2 way trust, how to agree objectives, prioritise and manage workload, well-being and how to use online technology properly.

We are all wired differently.

Personalities differ from person to person and so the capability of individuals to recognise their own emotions and those of others – emotional intelligence as we call it –is especially difficult to do this when you are a distributed team.

But it’s crucial for success.  Take time on your virtual meetings to learn about one another.

Take time to understand one another’s differences.

Finding out what makes other people ‘tick’ is fascinating and enables better collaboration.

We run a super quick workout that helps teams to understand their important values, how that drives their behaviours and what happens if that value is disrespected.  It’s powerful.

People respond to remote working in different ways. Extroverts often make successful home workers as they are keen to speak up, communicate and take part in virtual meetings.  Introverts can have a tougher time – they often prefer hub working.

Collaboration Tools

Socialising too frequently can prevent people from getting their work done but it’s also an essential part of team building.  Using video and creating time for informal virtual interactions between employees can generate high levels of affinity and encourage better collaboration.

We use Slack.  It is a secure instant messaging platform that offers file sharing and video calls and wants “to replace email”. It has around 10 million users. It’s is a really good way of keeping in touch with everyone when you are working remotely.

This experiment is set to change the way that we work and think about work forever and you’re going to have to take a leap of faith over the next couple of months.

The best advice we can give you is trust your people. Smart workers will work smart anywhere – shirkers will shirk everywhere.

Join Ruth, live from St Agnes, Cornwall when she’ll share 50 Smart Tips for leading Remote Workers in just one hour.  Book your virtual seat here