In The Future of Work, we explore how companies are transforming to stay competitive as global collaboration becomes vital. We will feature stories from both builders and leaders who manage these transformations to illustrate workplace trends and what’s coming next.

Emilie Schario’s passion for smart, streamlined remote work solutions is contagious. She also happens to work at GitLab, which is to say she’s found her happy place. 

GitLab is the world’s largest all-remote organization, with more than 1,200 team members working remotely across 65+ countries. As a company, they believe that all-remote is the future of work, but when external forces rush its implementation, it comes with a very unique set of challenges. 

That’s why Emilie, an Internal Strategy Consultant at the company, was the perfect person to join us in our recent Sisense webinar Thriving as a Remote Team: A Foundational Toolkit. Accompanied by Nurit Shiber, Chief People Officer at Sisense, and hosted by Sisense Editor-In-Chief, Jack Cieslak, the three spent an hour unpacking what it means to truly be successful at building a remote work culture — especially during the COVID-19 pandemic when there is no other option.

The role of human-centric leadership, building professional relationships remotely, and systems for peer recognition are all vital to building a sustainable remote working culture. But every speaker on the call agreed on one thing: getting smarter about meetings is the lynchpin of successful remote work.

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Master-level remote work demands asynchronous meetings

According to Emilie, there are three stages of evolution that companies go through when transitioning to a remote work environment: 

  1. Take what you do in an office and do it online. Plain and simple: conference room meetings move to Zoom rooms.
  2. Focus on efficiency. Instead of using 100 synchronous hours by gathering 100 employees for a virtual meeting, record that meeting and send your message so that team members can watch on their own time. Better yet, set up a standup bot!
  3. Become intentional about building a remote culture. This is the step when companies begin minimizing physical offices and moving the workforce remote.

For newly-remote companies, step one is a no-brainer. We’re all doing it — we don’t have a choice! It’s the second step that companies must commit to mastering in the weeks and months ahead in order to maintain a healthy remote workforce during COVID-19.

Emilie has a challenge for every manager. Take a look at your meetings for the week ahead. Which meetings include a Powerpoint presentation? 

Pick a meeting with a Powerpoint presentation and go record a Youtube video instead. Send out a meeting invitation with a link to your video 24-hours prior to the call so that when you get on that call, you are doing the thing that you can only do when you have those people on that call — which is having an informed, powerful discussion.

Agile problem-solving for a newly remote team

Sisense is a highly dispersed organization. We work out of physical offices around the world and there are remote workers on nearly every team in the company. It’s part of everyone’s job to collaborate with teams across time zones. But like many other new-to-remote companies, it took a few weeks to start thinking outside a simple “moving the conference room to Zoom” scenario. 

As the Chief People Officer at Sisense, Nurit Shiber is deeply in-tune with Sisensers and their needs. And it only took a week for her to recognize that the same meeting structure used in an office setting wasn’t translating well the new remote environment.

“The first week at home was pure adrenaline,” says Nurit. Sisensers were eager to make things work in this new normal, and that included accepting every meeting that hit their inbox. But by week 2, reality hit. There were too many meetings and not enough time for work while also balancing home life with children out of school. Something had to change. 

Since the first couple weeks of the pandemic, we’ve instituted “no meeting days” in which team members across the company, executives included, can spend a day catching up on work without interruptions. We’ve also scheduled two upcoming “self-care days” in which the entire company is offline recuperating.

Adjusting to remote work? Here’s a challenge

Sisense Editor-In-Chief, Jack Cieslak, works with a global content team, with traditional offices in NYC and Tel Aviv. And the 7-hour time difference between him and his coworkers makes mindful meetings a necessity. 

Before I set a meeting, I always ask myself: could this meeting be an email?

Or in GitLab’s case: could this meeting be a video?

Whether you’ve always been a remote team or you’re transitioning to remote as a result of COVID-19, these are important questions to keep in mind if remote efficiency and reducing employee burnout is a priority. And honestly, who doesn’t want a happier, more efficient workforce?

For this and other valuable remote work tips from GitLab and Sisense, tune in for the replay. 

Thriving as a Remote Team

Spending her early career as a travel writer, Emily Arent found a home in Copenhagen and Denver before settling in Tel Aviv. She’s spent the last 8 years contributing to content programs at agencies and start-ups across Israel.

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