Bridging offices and remote employees together is difficult, really difficult.
We have all been pushed into this land of work from home and remote work. At first, it was a little refreshing but as things have dragged on for two years we have all learned to cope in different ways, whether we like it or not.
This is always more true to me when I visit one of our offices. We have offices in San Antonio, Denver, Colorado Springs, Portland, Toronto, and Krakow Poland. I like to try to visit each once a quarter to physically shake a hand, say a thank you, or have a hard conversation. The building of comradery and the subculture of work friends is important and faster when in person. Even with this plan it still is really difficult to bridge everyone together.
To rewind a couple of years, we at Searchspring were fairly flexible. We had fully remote workers and we adopted tools that allowed us to all work together and that proved hugely beneficial with the wild swings in 2020 and over the next two years we didn’t have to really change too much but that doesn’t mean it is any easier.
New teammates are joining teams where they will never meet their employees or their bosses and some come to the office disappointed that there are so few, while others come in wishing that they were still in their pajamas. There is no real turning back, the job is figuring out how to connect employees and offices together. It is easy to ignore the problems but they will rear their ugly head.
We have seen the pains that happen when teams are not interconnected. We actually did a Theory of Constraints exercise adopted from my favorite book, The Goal. Turns out a major chokepoint is effective onboarding. In an office it was so easy; you take the person to lunch, introduce them to the office, they meet their co-workers, and off they are running. But in a remote world, you have to do ten times the work and we haven’t been the best at it.
This same problem could’ve happened if 2020 never was a thing. Remote isn’t to blame but likely just an acceleration to showing one’s warts.
We must get better and we will, but it won’t end. What I’ve learned over the years is that fixing things is never-ending and you can always do better. There really is never ‘done’. Grab a latte and focus on the next ‘thing’.