At CatalystCreativ, we’re a fully remote team, and have been since our inception over seven years ago. There are still occasional hiccups that can be attributed to working remotely, and there were certainly growing pains in the early days as we figured out best practices through trial and error. But with a little help from our Seventh Level Engagement Framework, we think we’ve got the whole thing pretty much down to a science at this point.
All of our advice on remote work falls into two camps: logistical advice, which covers the lower levels of engagement (think: tools to make remote work more effective—we wrote about our favorites here), and cultural advice, which is all about the higher levels. When first wading into the waters of remote work, you’ve got to set your team up for success logistically. But you also have to foster a climate of inclusivity and togetherness—something easily taken for granted in a conventional office environment—to ensure higher levels of engagement. Here are just a few policies and practices we’ve enacted at CatalystCreativ that help us get the most out of our remote working configuration, and the levels of engagement they correspond with.
(Need a quick refresh on the seven levels of engagement? We’ve got you covered here.)
- Level One: To make sure employees are getting your message, and to combat disengagement, determine how each member of your team prefers to be communicated with. Some may want to be texted, some may want to be Slack messaged, and others may prefer to have a phone call.
- Level Two: We try to avoid using jargon, and try to communicate as clearly and simply as possible. The occasional emoji doesn’t hurt to convey your message’s intention, either!
- Level Three: Suggest that employees choose a quiet room in their home to work from. Lay out clear expectations for employees’ availability and consider implementing a “wear what you’d wear to the office for video calls” policy so that they know how to “show up” properly. We also ask that team members keep their calendars up-to-date and accurate; if you know you'll be away from your computer, that needs to be clearly communicated via your shared calendar to your teammates so everyone is on the same page.
- Level Four: At CatalystCreativ we hold an hour-long weekly check-in where we discuss upcoming needs and allocate responsibilities so everyone knows what is being asked of them.
- Level Five: Even though we have structure around the times of day that we are required to work, we know it’s important to accommodate team members if they need to pick up their child from school, or take their dog out for a walk—and that they’ll work harder and more appreciatively in return. As long as time away from the computer isn't excessive, and is communicated via shared calendar, we find that granting people a little flexibility goes a long way in terms of them feeling fulfilled by work.
- Level Six: At CatalystCreativ we have our own meetings that allow for individuals to bring up what they consider to be tensions—the space between where the company is and where the company could be. These meetings are different from our tactical meetings and provide a platform where anyone can express how they feel things can be made better, which leads to greater ownership over one’s work.
- The Seventh Level: Every week we have a check-in where we talk about anything but work—we share things that are going on in our lives to make sure that we connect on a deeper level. We also have quarterly in-person retreats and recommend them highly, but if you cannot do that, even having hours of the day that are dedicated to just collaborative work that is not structured once a week can be incredibly beneficial.
Want a bit of guidance when navigating the world of remote working? Need someone to suggest revised policies? Just looking to have a chat on common pitfalls—and triumphs—that stem from geographically distributing your team? Let us help. Contact CatalystCreativ today to schedule a call with one of our employment engagement specialists, and keep your business going strong when confronted with new challenges. Just fill out the short form below and we'll get right back to you!