• Chris Barbin

My Favorite Resources for Managing a Remote Workforce...Now That We're All Working from Home

To say that I am a strong advocate for a remote workforce may be putting it mildly. For years, I’ve been talking about the benefits of virtual teams to nearly anyone who would listen, but I never once did I include the global population’s health and safety on that list of benefits. And yet here we are, with millions of us now working from home to reduce the spread of COVID-19 and lessen the impact of a global pandemic.

As the former CEO of a global services company, a venture partner at GGV and a small business owner myself, I’ve experienced first-hand the benefits of a virtual workforce: access to a wider, more diverse talent pool; more productive and engaged people; and lower overhead costs. However, companies usually only experience those benefits with some serious forethought and planning. They have recruited and hired people who work well in a distributed, virtual environment, and have put in place the processes and tools to facilitate the collaboration and social interaction that teams need in the absence of physical proximity.

Unfortunately, thousands of companies are now experiencing this new operating model with very little preparation and under extreme duress. As Derek Thompson from The Atlantic wrote earlier this month, the coronavirus has created “a huge stressful experiment in working from home”, and while I think it will show many the value in the model, I fear it may drive many in the opposite direction once things return to normal. Whenever that may be.

I’ve been talking with a number of organizations -- from global tech companies to universities to small local businesses - about the situation we’re currently in, providing as much guidance as I can on how to prepare their organizations for a virtual work environment. However, we’re all being tested in new and unexpected ways so I too have turned to others to learn what else can be done.

In the spirit of sharing, I thought it might be helpful to pull a collection of some of my favorite resources on distributed leadership, working from home, the virtual workforce and communicating/planning in times of crisis.

Operational Tactics for Start-Ups (GGV) - An incredible directory of resources from policies, to communications plans, to virtual healthcare, to tips on working-from-home (70+ links).

8 Pragmatic Tips (NPR) - Basic but thoughtful, and I like their point on distraction management.

Free Software to Leverage (BI Insider) - An awesome list of technologies that can help virtual teams.

Mission First, People Always (Kornferry) - Great leadership tips on empowering people and power of empathy.

17 Hacks (Buzzfeed) - Simple tips and tricks for the remote worker.

8 Leadership Style Tips (HBR) - All of these tips are helpful, but I especially like the author’s points on expectations and optimism.

Leading in WFH Mode (Workboard) - Deidre Paknad is an incredible leader and has some great strategic and tactical advice on surviving in a WFH world, including what Workboard is doing.

Bullet Tips from a Pro WFH Dude (VentureBeat) - This includes 10 tips for individuals, and 9 for managers and leaders. A little bit for everyone!

Human Resilience & What Your People Need (Accenture) - These are all strong tips based on real data, but I especially love their priority pyramid, and how to address the relational, mental, and physical needs of employees.

Make Remote Working Work (Avanade) - Practical guidance for leaders, employees & IT when it comes to making remote work, work.

I’m sure this list only scratches the surface though. What are your top 10 learnings and readings? Please share!

© 2019 by Chris Barbin. All right reserved.