Redefining Remote Work: 3 Keys to a Thriving Digital Office
Redefining Remote Work: 3 Keys to a Thriving Digital Office

Redefining Remote Work: 3 Keys to a Thriving Digital Office

12/15/2023 by Jason M. Atwood (he/him)
The recent trend of “back to the office” for knowledge workers and the minor bashing of remote work are missing some keys to implementing a great remote work environment.

We started Arkus as a remote work company almost 13 years ago. While the first three founders were in the Tri-State area, it wasn’t easy to get together and physical offices were hard to come by. Since we worked on the Salesforce platform we grew the company without a physical footprint. As we expanded and hired more and more people, we embraced the remote work concepts and built it into our cultural DNA. 

Recently as organizations in a post-pandemic stance start to reverse their “anyone can work anywhere” in a “digital office” they are telling (if not demanding) workers return to the office. The underlying tone to this is that not enough work is being done remotely and that only by being in the office can real work get done

I beg to differ.

Remote work has advantages and disadvantages for both the employee and the organization. Humans like being with other humans. We like in-person communication and collaboration. We are better when we have physical contact and queues that bring better trust and communication. 

On the other side, commuting is hard, and shrinks the talent pool. Open office spaces and cubes are not the most productive places to do what Cal Newport defines as Deep Work. Our lives are full of families and other obligations so being able to time shift our work can lead to greater productivity and overall employee satisfaction.

With over a decade of remote work under our belt here at Arkus, here are three keys to making it work, remotely.  

#1 - Make Work Accountable 

If sitting in a cube in a tall office building is your accountability for doing work, something is clearly wrong. Accountability in work means that work has ownership with commitments to getting it done well and on time. Work needs to be assigned and documented with the outcomes communicated to stakeholders inside or outside of the organization. At Arkus we teach every employee high levels of accountability first to each other and then to our clients and partners. We hold everyone accountable for their work and make it very clear with whom that accountability resides. Nobody should leave a meeting without a clear understanding of who has those next actions and when they will be done, something we pull directly from Getting Things Done which is a must read here for all new employees. 

Getting Things Done (GTD) - Episode #132 of CloudFocus Weekly - 04/05/2013

#2 - Make Work Transparent 

If you can’t measure your work, it isn’t going to work. All work should have outcomes, measurements with data that can be reviewed and inspected. Where in your organization can you see the work is being done? Can you run a dashboard or a report? Can you review a document or see the product on the factory floor? At Arkus we make all our work transparent to everyone. We report out our work to our clients weekly and internally we can see what everyone is working on, in real time. To go one step further, we even can see what we are all planning to work on tomorrow and the next week. Every manager can see their team, every employee can see every other employee. Yes, everyone can see where the CEO has his time and attention and where he is spending it. Transparency can be scary at first, but replaces the needs for hundreds of “check-in” meetings.

#3 - Make Work Fun

Culture is everything in an organization. Remote work brings challenges around getting together, socializing or just having fun. Remote work organizations have to put in extra effort from the top down, to make sure it is not only ok to have fun, but wildly encouraged. We have done everything from game nights to social channels. We encourage remote team building and group socializing in different Slack groups. Share pictures of your vacation in the social channel or what you are listening to in the music channel. Are you into Peloton? We have a Slack channel for that. Are cats your thing? There is a Slack channel for that. We also try to get together in person whenever possible, from meeting up once a year as a company or in smaller groups at community events or conferences. The virtual water cooler is filled and ready for gabbing.

If you are struggling with making remote work work at your organization, try implementing these three concepts and see if it helps. If not,contact us and let’s set up some time to discuss. You can also connect with me onLinkedIn or on X @JasonMAtwood