Working Remotely or Remotely Working?

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Times Square at NightToday is the National Remote Work Day in Finland, so I figured this would be a good occasion to summarize my experiences with remote work during the last month. I started my work in New York in mid-August and time has just flown by so fast. At first I was a bit worried about how I could motivate myself to do my job well without having my colleagues physically by my side. I’m not worried anymore.

According to our metrics, I’ve achieved even more here than I did back home. In my previous blog post I wrote about how I stopped multitasking and started achieving. After the first remote work month I’m more convinced that performance management should be done on a weekly basis. This will increase both productivity and employee engagement.

Agile software development projects are all about managing weeks, but could we use the same agile principles to manage the whole organization? Based on numerous customer interviews, performance management is still widely understood as a process of reporting the past; assessment forms are filled in twice a year or once a quarter. The problem with this kind of management model is that it’s not sensitive enough for changes and it doesn’t guide your future actions. It only states the past successes and mistakes – when it’s already too late to take action.

We revised our own management model in the beginning of this fall. The biggest changes were that we separated results from actions and gave our team members more autonomy on their weekly work. As for managing and guiding remote work, the current model works great. Reporting as well as monitoring goals and performance is convenient thanks to our Habit service that is designed for performance management purposes.

I start my working week by deciding what I want to achieve during the week. This is easy, because our own Habit has more than ten weekly marketing-related tasks I can choose from. You get points for each finished task and our weekly goal is to get at least 50 points. For instance, I can write a news article, publish a blog post, meet with potential partners, help my colleagues and register three sales leads. When I have at least 50 points, I can choose any extra task I want, as long as it takes our company forward. This extra effort is worth 20 points. Last week I broke all my previous records and earned over 120 points!

David Bowie Drinks for FreeTo communicate with my colleagues, I use either Skype or Lync. It’s much more convenient than I thought, apart from the rare occasions when my Internet connection crashes. On Mondays we go through marketing-related issues with Jukka and on Fridays I chat with Antero about the status of our sales. Due to the time difference the working day here has barely begun, when my colleagues in Finland are almost ready to call it a day. One of the benefits of working from home is that I can start a remote video conference early in the morning almost immediately after getting out of bed. Habit also helps me to keep informed of what my colleagues have achieved during the week, and I can of course write comments and give them feedback and encouragement.

Now that I’ve been here for one month, I can definitely recommend a longer remote working period abroad to everyone if your job description just allows it. To make the remote working period meaningful for both yourself and your employer, you should consider doing reporting and performance management on a weekly basis. This way you will keep yourself motivated, you’ll achieve more and you’ll be able to show your employer that you’re actually working remotely – not just remotely working!

We’d be happy to share more of our experiences with you. Fill in the form below and we’ll give you three good reasons to rethink performance management.

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