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Remote Working: Wundamail Week In Review

August 25, 2019

Remote Working, Week In Review

This week at Wundamail HQ, we’ve been taking a look at what it’s like to manage remote teams in 2019. How can modern leaders motivate and support their employees, without communicating face-to-face? We’ve rounded up this week’s best articles on the topic, in order to grant you a fresh perspective on what it means to manage remote teams.

Click To Read: Why Finland Leads The World In Flexible Work via BBC News

This article offers a comprehensive glimpse into Nordic working culture. Maddy Savage, BBC reporter, talks through why Finland was one of the first nations to embrace a more flexible way of working. She details how Nordic working culture has been gradually taking on a more “agile” sensibility since the early 1980s, as remote working reflects Finland’s national identity of trust, equality and pragmatism.

Savage interviews Miika Härkönen, a Finnish national who took a leap of faith, and asked his manager if he could work remotely from Spain for six months. To Härkönen’s delight, his boss agreed to the challenge so that he could do regular job as a senior team manager for an IT company while also maximising time with his family. The key to his success? Härkönen kept in touch with his colleagues while he was away through online messaging tools, video conferences and occasional trips back to Finland. 

Härkönen worked a flexible schedule, ensuring he could dial into important meetings in Helsinki, which is an hour ahead of Malaga, while also making the most of the Spanish weather, something he believes helped boost his productivity. This offers an excellent example of how asking for flexibility can benefit both the individual employee, and the business as a whole.

Click To Read: A New Study Shows How Beneficial Remote Working Can Be via World Economic Forum

While digital technology has made workers more efficient and accessible than ever before, many companies have been slow to let employees work from home regularly, let alone from anywhere at any time. The study’s findings can help firms understand the effects of various flex-work options, and support certain types of employees as they negotiate with employers. 

Prithwiraj Choudhury, an associate professor in the Technology and Operations Management Unit at Harvard Business School, and fellow researchers compared the outcomes of flexible work arrangements at the US Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO). The results have important implications for workers, who could potentially move to lower-cost areas, reduce commuting costs, and live closer to family and friends.

Choudhury and his coauthors compared 600 examiners’ productivity under these various conditions. While working remotely, productivity increased among all examiners and continued to rise with each step toward the full work-from-anywhere policy, the researchers found. Productivity increased 4.4 percent when employees moved from working at home on a limited basis to the location of their choice. Based on a patent's average value, this productivity gain could add $1.3 billion of value to the US economy each year, the researchers estimate.

Click To Read: Mindfulness In The Age Of Remote Work Communications via Forbes

In this article, Cameron Conaway examines how can the lessons of mindfulness be applied to workplace communications in the “fail fast and break things” culture of many startups, particularly those that are embracing remote work.

Conaway notes that mindfulness has become a buzzword, and references the thriving McMindfulness industry, in which mindfulness becomes a device for “subduing employee unrest, promoting a tacit acceptance of the status quo and as an instrumental tool for keeping attention focused on institutional goals.”

Conaway’s conclusion? That mindfulness (though a practice and a state that can lead to personal realization) is chiefly a critical communication component for high-performance teams working remotely. As Harvard professor Robert Kegan puts it: “The quest for business excellence and the search for personal realization need not be mutually exclusive -- and can, in fact, be essential to each other.”

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