She's been at the forefront of the global remote work movement since 2012.
So when COVID hit in early 2020, Mine knew a revolution was coming.
Companies were desperate for guidance on how to transition to a remote-friendly workplace, and they needed help revamping their cultures to enable long-term employee happiness (and prevent burnout).
We recently sat down with Mine to learn how she helps companies usher in transformative change by building happy, flexible, and remote cultures.
What followed was a case study in how to overcome common problems with modern work – like meeting overload, high levels of burnout, and lack of documentation – by focusing on communication, collaboration, and well being.
Here's Mine's blueprint for success, which ultimately leads to lower expenses, increased transparency, and higher employee satisfaction:
Mine says it's important to reframe the discussion around remote work.
Don't focus on the physical location (“in office,” “hybrid,” or “remote”). Instead, focus on the processes and tools that will enable your team to do its best work.
“We’re in a revolution for how we do work. The way we were working belongs to the last century – we’re still doing things largely the same way that we were in the early 1900s after the industrial revolution. Life is changing, everything is changing, but work isn’t changing. So we need to change the way we do work, and it goes beyond just the location.”
Start by focusing on how you document knowledge.
This is particularly important for hybrid companies, because when it's not clear who is onsite vs. working remotely, the mode of communication defaults to in-person conversation. So important projects and processes will suffer from a lack of documentation, and it will become more difficult for team members to access relevant artifacts and historical context when they need it.
So it's important to establish a centralized repository for company knowledge.
Adopt a culture of asynchronous communication.
To make up for the lack of physical proximity, many companies try to overcompensate with more frequent meetings.
This leaves employees little choice but to attend every meeting–without questioning if their presence is necessary–which results in days full of back-to-back meetings.
“When you have meetings all day, how can you find the time to get things done that were discussed in those meetings? You have no time to put them into action. That’s what leads to burnout. Most people are not actually needed in many of the meetings they attend, so they turn their camera off and do something else. The problem is that our brains are only designed to concentrate on one thing at a time, so it’s an unproductive use of time overall.”
Take adequate breaks throughout the day.
As a result of packed meeting schedules and the lack of a commute, Mine noticed employees would spend more time working without taking breaks.
A common frustration she heard was they felt tied to their desks, without a dedicated break for lunch and exercise.
“People blamed increased burnout on not being in the office, but burnout isn’t something new. The pace of life is faster now, and we need to relearn how to work efficiently. Even for employees who go into an office, they are faced with many distractions that pull them away from their work.”
Mine used this three-step plan to help Diageo, a global beverage company, kickstart its remote work transformation in June of 2020.
First, she focused on helping the team communicate faster, and with more transparency.
“The first thing I strongly recommend to my clients is to document everything. Documentation is the most crucial thing – all meeting notes need to be stored in the cloud so nothing gets missed. Then I ask them to establish a routine of circulating pre-reads for each meeting. This ensures no time is wasted rehashing the same things, and they can get right to work solving the issues at hand.”
She also helped Diageo establish a “communication urgency map” to help employees understand which tasks are urgent, what are the appropriate time frames for response, and what tools they needed to use to communicate with one another.
Second, she helped the team increase its meeting efficiency and collaborate with fewer, better tools.
She had the team implement "collaboration hours,” which effectively restricted large, cross-functional meetings to a pre-defined window of the day. This initiative helped employees accurately plan their days to create more time for focused work.
She advocated for fewer, better tools and recommended the team set up its tooling in a few foundational categories:
She recommended Almanac as a documentation platform and project management tool.
"I’ve been a fan of Almanac for creating company handbooks for many years, and I’ve been so pleased with how the product has evolved over time. The introduction of workflows on docs is a game changer for any company or team who has processes they want to follow.”
Third, she encouraged certain meetings–like 1:1s and small brainstorming sessions–to be scheduled as walking meetings, to help boost creativity and decrease burnout.
Mine says she also worked with the HR and Benefits team to redesign benefits packages to be more aligned with this new way of working.
Mine says that her clients, including Diageo, have seen several significant benefits since they successfully transitioned to a remote-first approach.
Holding fewer, more efficient meetings resulted in time and money saved.
Diageo implemented no-meeting blocks every Wednesday to increase time spent on focused, productive work.
Mine also asked team leads to calculate the approximate cost of a meeting (based on an average hourly rate for the attendees), so everyone would know just how valuable each "meeting minute" was.
Overhauling the tools and processes teams use for collaboration helps remote teams and companies move in sync, regardless of where they are located.
“Onboarding a new collaboration tool can give teams a more clear direction on what they’re doing. These tools give employees full visibility into what their team is working on. It helps them keep each other accountable, as well as keep themselves accountable.”
She notes that management and leadership also benefit from this transparency when it comes to resource management and planning, because it's easier to identify teams that are consistently under-resourced.
Asking your team for feedback, and then implementing their feedback, results in higher levels of employee satisfaction.
Mine is a big fan of engagement surveys. She says leadership teams should send them out before making any changes, and then again after 6-12 months have passed. She said it's common to see a significant jump in employee satisfaction, particularly related to feelings of burnout and stress, after sending out the second survey.
“In the first session I have with my clients, I tell them remote work isn’t about location, it’s about flexibility. They have to first create a flexible mindset, because that’s really what this is about. We are shifting mindsets through these projects; that flexibility of owning your time, schedule, and energy is so liberating. Employees love it.”
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