Making remote work, work [Gilrane]

Itamar Goldminz
Apr 23, 2019 · 2 min read
Source: Google blog

When Google sets its sights on researching a people topic, you can be sure that the level of scientific rigor will be high. While not quite filling the massively big shoes of Oxygen and Aristotle, the work led by Veronica Gilrane on the People Innovation Lab (Pi Lab) on remote work is quite good:

Working together when we’re not together (Playbook)

While the high-level conclusion was that:

We were happy to find no difference in the effectiveness, performance ratings, or promotions for individuals and teams whose work requires collaboration with colleagues around the world versus Googlers who spend most of their day to day working with colleagues in the same office. Well-being standards were uniform across the board as well; Googlers or teams who work virtually find ways to prioritize a steady work-life balance by prioritizing important rituals like a healthy night’s sleep and exercise just as non-distributed team members do.

They did, unsurprisingly, discovered that teammates on distributed teams face three types of challenges in establishing high-quality connections:

  1. Getting connected — arranging logistics, like rooms and timezones
  2. Being connected — ensuring technology supports the work you’re doing
  3. Feeling connected — getting to know one another, building trust

To support teams in overcoming these challenges, they’ve developed a set of role-based playbooks (distributed employees, buddies of distributed employees, managers, leaders) though the advice in each playbook has quite a bit of overlap with the others:

  • Be present
  • Get talking
  • Re-tool your meetings
  • Strategize your space
  • Reach out
  • Traverse time zones
  • Appreciate differences
  • Set team vision and norms

Pretty good checklist for anyone who’s on or leading a distributed team.

Itamar Goldminz

Written by

I enjoy solving human puzzles

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