Actually, Remote and Hybrid Work is Working
Two years into the virtual workplace experiment studies are showing that teams working remotely actually increased productivity. Researchers at the National Bureau of Economic Research have demonstrated, through controlled trials, that remote developers can write 8% more code on average. And yet, according to McKinsey, 54% of employees report a decrease in job satisfaction, 49% report higher levels of burnout and 33% report decreased engagement with their work.
Both of these facts are true. When it comes to the tools we use to do our jobs, we very successfully solved one problem and forgot about the other.
We solved the tools and processes needed to successfully do work remotely. Topics that in 2020 still seemed important are solved now. e.g. “How will we collaborate on creative projects?” or “How will we do large planning sessions?”
A team of people is more than just a collection of individuals ticking off a task list.
We lost track of the everyday, human interactions - structured or not - that go into how we collectively figure out how to work together. How we create our own team identities and rituals. How we support, develop, and celebrate each other and our teams. How we adapt as a group, and how we become resilient.
Much of this came naturally when we were living our lives together in the office. Remotely, this requires just as much attention as continuing to tick off the task list but it’s harder. And we don’t yet have the tools for it.
The best managers are out there, scraping it together using tools built for project management - ticking off the tasks. They’re cobbling together team charters, working agreements, templates for team rituals on tools built for document storage or development processes.
The worst managers are doing nothing, and don’t even know it’s a problem. And interestingly, this is where organizations are now feeling it the most. Because between good and bad managers, productivity is the same. But teams that don’t tend to team health, and allow their teams the space to define and own how they will be a team, show up in one particular metric: the rate at which employees quit.