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Answering your most asked questions about Freelancing.

Freelancing has often been mooted as the future of work, with professionals seeking more control of their work and organisations benefitting from the greater flexibility of a transient, highly specialised workforce when reacting to evolving markets.

For many, it still remains a game of risk vs reward.

Having spent much of his career as a freelancer, Jason is here to answer your most searched questions about freelancing.

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Insights Organisational Change Work Life Balance

Canceling “Work-Life Balance”.

Millennials flooding the workforce has forced the redefinition of the much-loved buzzwords “work/life balance”. Instead, how about we cut the cr*p and do away with it altogether?

Perhaps this is a sign of resignation. Possibly calling for the term’s shelving altogether is the culmination of frustrations following years of trying to understand and articulate its current standing in the workplace fully. Perhaps it’s a touch of pedanticism.

Balance, fine, it’s the two words before it and dash or slash that irk me. We have a myriad of obligations and responsibilities to others and ourselves that we must prioritise and balance, not just two. Why are we making a distinction between ‘living’ and, ironically, ’making a living?’.

The assumption is that we tread a delicate (and often seemingly impossible) tightrope between two polarising worlds: what we “must do” and what we “want to do”. Work is bad; private life is good. The work/life paradigm implies we have two lives. We don’t, we have one, and if we aren’t in charge of it, then somebody else is.

I was once told, “life is our priority, but work is somebody else’s”.

Many adopt a somewhat dangerous position of defining our self-worth via our career, and I think that boils down to a particular view of “success” that we are taught. A “good job”, long hours, big money, promotions… And there’s nothing wrong if you are fulfilled, but the constant discussion over work/life balance would suggest not everybody is.

The traditional days of career trajectory are largely behind us. Long gone are the expectations of a single career – towing the line along a linear trajectory from bottom to the… well, somewhere that isn’t the bottom in return for a gold watch upon retirement. It’s a truly symbolic trading of time because let’s be clear, our finite amount of time is what we are trading.

We now live in a connected world of opportunity where people are having ten different careers (and less are treading the first rung on the corporate ladder). As people are becoming more conscious and aware of themselves, we’re beginning to question our relationship with work and how we spend our valuable time.

… idealistic?

Well, perhaps. For some necessity and obligation to others will, of course, take priority because unfortunately, we need money to survive (I’m sure I’ll write in further detail about the utopian bartering system I’m devising at a later date). The point I’m trying to make is that there has never been a more significant window of opportunity to find meaningful work that integrates with our chosen lifestyle.

We’re seeing more freelancers, gig workers, people continuously chopping and changing to find integration rather than separation of “work” and “life”. A healthy work-life balance requires reflection on what we truly value and prioritising your whole self instead of just the needs of your work.

Loosely translating to ‘reason for being’, Ikigai is a Japanese concept representing a cross-section of our work, responsibilities and interests. It incorporates what you love, what the world needs, what you’re good at amd what you can get paid for. To have Ikigai, and a healthy life because of it, means not being burdened by any one part of living. (and there are more than two parts to choose from).

It’s time to publicly ostracise or ‘cancel’ (a word I despise so much I now instead ‘annihilate’ my Amazon Prime membership) “work-life balance”. Banish it to the graveyard of annoying and useless business vernacular and make meaningful changes that allow us to integrate and prioritise our one life as we best choose.

Rant over… for now.

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Finding Balance- a transformation of work life for people and digital businesses

Consider this;

You wake up in the morning, you turn off your alarm, and as you lie there in bed, you check facebook, Instagram, WhatsApp,  Twitter, texts, emails and then the news. Then you go to the bathroom, you use the toilet, brush your teeth, take a shower, get dressed and then head for the kitchen. You drink some coffee and eat breakfast. Maybe you watch the news or check your emails again. It’s the same routine you follow everyday. 

Then you drive to work on the same old route, and when you get there you interact with the same coworkers you saw the day before. You spend your day performing pretty much the same duties you performed yesterday. You might even react to the same challenges at work with the same emotions; Then after work, you drive home; maybe you stop at the same grocery store and buy the food you like and always eat. You cook the same food for dinner and watch the same television show at the same time while sitting in the same place in your living room. Then you get ready for bed in the same way you always do-you brush your teeth (with your right hand starting from the upper right side of your mouth), you crawl into the same side of the bed, maybe you read a little, and then you go to sleep. 

:-/

THEN….

 All of that gets turned on its head.

Last week on the Digital Village Stream we held a panel discussion with:

Josephine Parker
(Leadership, Strategy Implementation, Transformation & Change | Yoga Teacher & Yoga Therapist)

Currently working with Allianz Insurance with their organisational transformation. Jo is a creative, driven Executive Coach, Facilitator and Organisational Development specialist, helping leaders and organisations transform and achieve more through their people.

Justin Rees
(Eighty20 Solutions)

Justin is the co-founder of ‘Eighty20 Solutions’ a modern workplace transformation company specialising in Microsoft systems integration. Justin has a background in running large scale transformation programs for enterprise organizations.

NIkki Thompson
(Coach & consultant – Inner Circle Work)

Nikki has a long history working in the health industry as a clinician and manager. She also brings business and life skills gained from raising a family and assisting her husband on their grain and grazing property. Nikki provides coaching and consulting to empower individuals and organisations to live and work more mindfully. This promotes health, wellbeing ,collaboration and creativity.

Dave Massage
(KPMG Australia)

With over 15 years in the ICT, Banking & Finance and Professional Services industries, Dave specialises in data analytics and strategy development and is passionate about growing and developing dynamic, high performing teams, delivering large scale strategic and transformational programs. Dave is currently the Director of data and analytics at KPMG.

Rachel Atkins
(This Thing of Ours)

With over 15 years in the ICT, Banking & Finance and Professional Services industries, Dave specialises in data analytics and strategy development and is passionate about growing and developing dynamic, high performing teams, delivering large scale strategic and transformational programs. Dave is currently the Director of data and analytics at KPMG.



We spoke about working from home (WFH) and what this might mean for us as people in terms of work and life balance. We also explored the impact on business and how organisations are navigating this change and how they will need to adapt to remain relevant into the unknown future.

 

How are we dealing with the change?

Around the 29 minute mark on the video Rachel describes a change curve model. The Change Curve is a popular and powerful model used to understand the stages of personal transition and organisational change.

Ref: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/K%C3%BCbler-Ross_model

 

Rachel’s observation was that companies went from being in denial or panic mode to then jumping to focusing on what is going to happen in the future. Possibly avoiding the reality of now. 

Jo suggests that this coping mechanism is where employers need to be focusing on to support their people. Being a crucial point in this journey of change. It is an especially important point in time where there is a need for authentic care and support for people before business implications are considered. 

 

Adapting to change means being flexible. 

In the ‘old-normal’ world there was often a clear distinction between work life and home life. Now that everyone is working from home, co-workers are seeing a new side of their co-workers that is more real as they get to meet their kids in the background trashing the house or the pet dog joining the conference call. Or as a listener shared on Youtube chat on the call, her friend sharing more than expected with her husband’s company. 

But what this ‘rawness’ or ‘exposure’ of vulnerability is doing for people and companies, is bringing them closer together in a more personal and meaningful way. There is empathy between co-workers and also client relations because we are now no-longer displaying a different version of ourselves. The benefits of this authenticity is trust, better communication, culture, camaraderie and togetherness. 

Parents having to cope with a very hectic home life are obviously finding it very difficult, but at the same time coworkers are aware of their challenges because they have a window view into the lives of their co-workers. The team now has a greater appreciation and understanding of the lives of the coworkers and the blend between life and work is more balanced. Dave shared his experiences of this and Rachel suggests how organisations should be supporting their staff at about the 47min mark (here).

 

Will companies want to go back to the ‘old-normal’?

Justin raised a good point about why WFH is working now and what the challenge might be when the lockdown is lifted. Suggesting that WFH is working for many organisations now because everyone is in the same circumstances. The real challenge comes when we go back to the office and there are say 80% of people working from the office and the other 20% remotely. Do those people who are working from home feel that they can contribute and are being heard by the rest of the team? Taking into account non verbal communications such as body language and the effects of physical presence. 

Some people thrive in the office environment and feel a need to be around other people. While others enjoy the solace of their own space and actually would prefer to WFH from now on. We might see a more equal split between those working from home and those from the office. If that is the case, workplace environments and communication technology will need to be re-imagined. (if you are a large organisation interested in exploring what that might look like, I recommend speaking with Justin or someone from Eighty20 Solutions about that). 

 

Jo described a very interesting scenario; now that people are not needing to go into the office anymore, but they will still be wanting the connection and community that comes with the workplace. So the office environment we are accustomed to, could be more about social hubs for people to congregate and work. Which opens up a range of working environment designs that are more functional, enjoyable, productive and innovative.

 

Reliance and Adoption of Digital

The Industrial Revolution accelerated growth through mass production and huge efficiencies. It was throughout this period that organisational structures were formed and systems and processes were prescribed to form the blueprint of business, employment and trade that we still live our lives by today (including school systems). 

This attachment to a Marxist view that value is determined by time of labor input, has developed an expectation overtime that employees need to be in the office, at their desk and sitting there from 9-5. And this is how a company can be sure that things are getting done. This is of course an extreme example of ‘command and control’, but it highlights where we have come from and how things can change. 

When asked about the impacts on business, Dave shared that one of the lasting legacies of this scenario will be a faster and more extensive digitisation of Australian businesses. He expressed the general resistance that organisations have to digitisation and some examples of how much more effective teams can be when truly adopting digital into their organisation. (Thanks Dave for the reference to this great article about such adoption of digitisation in the Australian business community.) 

Digital technology provides an opportunity for businesses to quickly create new customer value propositions. By better understanding the customer, creating more meaningful services and products, and providing an enhanced customer experience through new digital offerings. As more people are online now, there are new opportunities everywhere for organisations to try new things and remain relevant into the new world. 

 

Digital Business Design – Digital transformation challenges and what solutions researchers have learned

Digital business design: ‘The holistic organisational configuration of people (roles, accountabilities, structures, skills), processes (workflows, routines, procedures), and technology (infrastructure, applications) to define value propositions and deliver offerings made possible by the capabilities of digital technologies. 

(Ross et al., 2019) 

 

For mid-large businesses, becoming digital is a competitive necessity. Ubiquitous data, unlimited connectivity and massive automation provides organisations with an opportunity to reinvent themselves, adapt to new markets and evolve for the future of business and the way people work. Reinventing themselves for the future requires stepping into the unknown, and I have great respect for the leaders of these companies who are steering these highly challenging transformations. There is no right way up the mountain and there is no pre-existing cut path guiding the way. 

 

Experimentation and flexibility are characteristics that typically are not associated with large organisations, but ironically this is what it is going to take to navigate the digital mountain.

 

In September 2019, the MIT Sloan Center for Information Systems Research Press published the findings of 4 years of research into a book; Designed for Digital. How to Architect Your Business for Sustained Success. Within it, defining 5 organisational capabilities that companies must develop to succeed at digital. These 5 building blocks of an organisation are:

 

      1. Shared Insights about what digital solutions the company can develop that customers will pay for. (building the intersection between what the business can do and what customers desire.)
      2. An Operational Backbone that captures the company’s requirements for integration and standardisation of core operational processes. (This building block enforces reliability in the execution of foundational processes and integrity of company data).
      3. A digital platform of reusable digital components making up digital offerings (this building block provides access to repositories of business, data, and infrastructure components.
      4. An accountability framework that allocates decision making rights to ensure both autonomy and alignment (this building block defines roles, decision rights, and processes to support speed and alignment in development and use of the digital platform.
      5. An external developer platform that exposes digital components of external partners (this building block provides the technology, processes and roles enabling digital partner relationships. 

(from “Designed for Digital: How to Architect Your Business for Sustained Success (Management on the Cutting Edge)” by Jeanne W. Ross, Cynthia M. Beath, Martin Mocker)

 

What got me into tech, was the fascination with the fact that with technology, almost anything is possible, you are only limited by your imagination. What I love about innovation, is that there are no ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ ideas. There’s only things that work and things that do not. 

So what new designs of businesses are we going to see in the future? What innovative configurations of people, processes and technology will form throughout the evolution of the digital age? What new services, products and offerings are we going to see? And what could this mean for employees and their livelihoods?  

 

Finding Balance: Giving power to the people

Centralised organisational structures have most of the decisions and responsibility at the top of the organisation, while decentralised organisations allow decision-making and authority at lower levels of the organisation. 

Source: referenceforbusiness.com

 

By breaking down silos and verticals into small cross-functioning teams, it can provide the business with greater and faster innovation because of the diverse knowledge and expertise within the one team. There is no skill or knowledge waste and people are learning from one another. Ultimately each team has their own culture. A team culture created by empowering individuals and teams to take ownership and responsibility for what they are working on. Where it is a choice to work, not a requirement.  

 

Funnily enough, the flexibility that companies need is the flexibility that people now need for a healthy WFH and work:life balance. Companies that are adopting ways of engaging people that provide a flexible balance between work and personal life will no doubt attract and retain the talent they want and need. 

 

An example of this is a small team of people dedicated to a specific digital product where they are responsible for its design, delivery and success like a startup within an organisation. The cross functioning team can quickly innovate, test and make decisions without getting approval from further up the org chart. There is ownership and purpose in this way of working that is empowering and enjoyable. And it gets results. (learn more about DV teams here)

 

Transformation of work life

In Nikki’s words; 

COVID to me is giving us a beautiful global tap on the back to say change how you do business, because if you don’t your grandkids are not going to be impressed.’ 

 

We are being forced to look at the world in a different way. The way we work, the way we live, the way organisations operate, serve their customers and engage their people in employment. 

Like the movie Finding Joe, we are all on a journey of transformation where if we break from the shackles of the past, we are sure to come out better than how we went in. But we need to make choices and take risks and be willing to let go of the way things were. 

Whether that be the shackles of legacy organisational structures or personal baggage we hold onto, we have the choice for a more balanced work life.  

 

Finally, 

Consider this;

You wake up in the morning, you turn off your alarm, and as you lie there in bed, you have a choice. How will you choose to live your life?   




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People are better together

 

The world is changing,

Employment is changing,

The way we work is changing,

The flexibility people want,  is the flexibility organisations need to stay relevant and competitive. 




7% of Australians find work through the gig economy. This way of working is expanding around the world as people look for flexibility, choice and autonomy in their work;life balance. Global Consulting Firm, Deloitte, summarised in a recent research paper

“​​The composition of the workforce is changing dramatically. As alternative work arrangements become more common, how can organizations appeal to, engage with, and drive value through workers of all different types?”

Within their research they found that 42 percent of the survey respondents said that their organizations are primarily made up of salaried employees, and employers expect to dramatically increase their dependence on contract, freelance, and gig workers over the next few years.

Essentially, companies are moving away from established work forces and moving to the more flexible engagement options to both be more competitive but also to attract the talent they need.

 

What a beautiful opportunity for the world

Here we have an opportunity to empower people to enjoy their work and work in such away that is inline with who they are and how they want to live their life, and at the same time provide organisations with the flexibility, agility and expertise they need to stay relevant and competitive. 

 

The raising of consciousness

As technology has been evolving, so have people. 

People are searching for more in life. More meaningful work, more contribution, favourable life experiences, more happiness in their day-to-day and ultimately searching for answers to the fundamental questions of life. 

This can be seen by the ever-growing self-help industry and the expanding interest in alternative spiritual practices. Meditation is now near normality and yoga studios are brimming with those in search of inner peace and understanding. 

You’ve heard it before; the common story of a professional climbing the ladder well into their 40’s, finally reaching the top only to throw it all away in search of something more meaningful. This realisation of ‘time and purpose’ seems to be discovered earlier in careers than ever before. 

Professionals are looking for alternative ways to have both a successful career and live the life they want to live. Traditionally, it was one or the other, impossible to have both within the confounds of organisational structures and corporate hierarchy. That is no longer the case.

 

The project economy

As people are valuing their time more and taking steps to find more meaningful work, many are looking to contracting, freelancing and project-based work for more choice and flexibility. 

However, this can often mean losing out on the benefits of employment, such as friendship among co-workers, training and development, culture and belongingness. 

 

The importance of human connection

It is an innate human need for people to be together and to feel connected to others. It has been at the core of our survival for thousands of years and although we as people love our tech and being online, ‘the 3rd screen’ has crept in between the relationship of people which as a result left people feeling lonely. (ironic when there are more people in the world than ever before). Studies carried out in Australia suggest that loneliness is so pervasive that it may be highlighted as the next public health crisis. 

So how can we have independence and connection at the same time?

 

Project Teams

Throughout 2019, Digital Village has been exploring the concept of “freelancing cross functioning teams” working on a project basis. Projects are defined by business outcomes with clear metrics to measure the level of success. 

We have found this way of working to be more enjoyable, more rewarding and more effective for the client. Because, there is more accountability, more responsibility, more dependance and reliance on the professional to get the job done. The team structure is important because the responsibility is shared among the small team and people are eager to work together and be supported by each other. There is no option to hide behind the large curtains of the corporate brand and pass responsibilities to others. 

 

The end. Or not…

It’s a crazy world out there, things can happen incredibly fast and anything is possible. Both good and bad. The beautiful thing is that we have a choice and have the power to create the future we want for ourselves and for the planet. 

Life is too short to not enjoy our work, and the world needs our work to contribute in a positive way. What you do matters. 

What about you?

Are you a professional in IT or digital? Are you interested in learning more about joining a Digital Village team and working on projects?

Learn More

Or are you within an organisation and feel that a Digital Village Project Team might be a good solution for an upcoming project?

Learn More

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Drunk User Testing (DUT)

Drunk User Testing

There are many kinds of informal user research methods. Examples are focus groups, contextual inquiries, coffee shop intercepts, and the like. These informal qualitative methods of user research have proved popular among UX practitioners for their simplicity, low cost, and reduction of the intimidation barrier. But we are experimented with a slightly sideways method of informal user research—drunk user testing (DUT).

 

Your website should be so simple, a drunk person could use it.



watch 3 intoxicated people to attempt to navigate a website and narrate and commentate their thoughts and experience. The purpose being to gain authentic and unfiltered opinions and feedback about the user experience of the website or app.

.

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Navigating through the Jungle of Technology

Technology creeps into all parts of our lives and it be can be all consuming and paralyzing.

But the purpose of technology is to make our lives easier. Where did we go wrong and what can we do about it to turn it around and have technology work for us.

In September 2019, a valued member of the Digital Village, Charlotte Rose-Mellis lead a workshop highlighting 3 ways to improve your work:life balance and have technology work for you by actually using it less!

With a Bachelor of Science (Psychology & Business Management) and a Graduate Diploma in Psychological Science, Charlotte’s work is influenced by a passion for human-centred design and a decade of experience integrating tech, business and impact as a self-taught web engineer, to create lucrative solutions that regenerate natural environments and grow revenue simultaneously.

Recent career highlights include Speaking at TEDx Tahiti, Finalist for the Young Sustainability Champion NSW and Winner of FYA Pitch the Future (Tech for Good). 

Enjoy!

(Scroll to video)

The weekend before this event I spent the weekend camping and bush walking through a National Park. I observed the similarities between navigating through the Jungle of technology and that of find ing our way through the jungle of technology in business.

 

My friends and I spent quite some time at the campsite beforehand, planning our route up the mountain to where the rivers form a Y and the mountains get high and beautiful.

Looking on the map, seemed simple enough. Looking from the top of the ranges, the treelines and river direction seemed easy to understand. A-B.

Technology in business is similar to this. Often it can seem simple enough, but it is easy to get lost. 

We started our decent into the rainforest to find the bottom of the gorge with a plan to simply follow the river upstream. 

However, the further we went and the deeper we got into the vines, our view of our goal and destination along with how we planned to get there had to change. Navigating our way through the jungle required responding to unforeseen circumstances and constant course correction. There were some paths that led to dead ends. There were some sections that were just not crossable, and we had to find another way round. 

It is the same when running a business. The deeper you get into projects (in-particular technology based projects), your view of your goal and destination along with how you planned to get there changes. Business and technology is an uncertain environment that is constantly changing. Things happen, and you need to be flexible enough to adapt. There are some experiments that lead to dead ends. There are some milestones that don’t get met or features that were just not doable and you have to find another way round.

The perspective changes because there is too much happening right in front of you. Getting distracted by smaller problems and obstacles. There is a million ways up the river but how do you know which one is the best? There is so much else to attend to, that it is easy to lose sight of the bigger picture. 

A business owner has a jungle in every part of the business. There is a lot to take into consideration and it is a challenge to keep up with it all. For example, it would be wise for a business to adopt a CRM and related marketing technologies to more effectively communicate with their customers and manage other important business metrics. But, how is the average business owner expected to know which technology is best suited to their business? Here are their options:

martech

And that is only marketing technology!

There is technology for every part of the business and it is highly important that the right technologies are chosen with a clear vision for the future. 

The beautiful thing about technology is that almost anything is possible. It can change your business and your personal life as well. But in many cases I’ve seen, it has the opposite effect. Driving people to the brink of breakdown out of frustration, stress and inefficiency. 

The core of any business is its people. The people who serve the customers and the customers who you’re serving. Technology should be looked upon as an enabler of this. To facilitate value being provided or related transactions, communications etc. Anything more is likely getting in the road. 

Until next time

Jason

P.S. we made it to our destination even though it took us longer than expected and we took a completely different track. We got to where we wanted to go and the journey was great. 

What would have made it easier, is to have a local who knew the terrain and the obstacles to help guide us through the jungle.

Where are you going with your business? What role does technology play? How do you plan to choose your adventure and who would you like to embark on it with?

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Remote work is the future, how to help your distributed team thrive

Remote work is the future, how to help your distributed team thrive

Remote work, definitely a trend I’m sure we have all been hearing more of. Globally many companies are going remote-first, fully distributed or changing their current people strategy to allow remote work as a viable option and we are talking more than just a WFH policy.

There are several reasons people advocate for remote work such as removing the unnecessary commute, access to the global talent pool, cost reduction (though while operational overhead costs may be reduced, there are new costs associated with going remote you should budget for), higher employee engagement and improved lifestyle for your employees.

Personally, I’ve been working remotely and managing a distributed team for 6 months now. While I would say this is the first fully remote experience I’ve had, I have many years of experience working with and managing offshore teams across the SEA region. This definitely helped make me aware of ways to work with people who are not based in the same office as myself, some of these fundamentals I want to touch on today.

A few weeks ago I was lucky enough to attend a fantastic conference, based out of Bali, Indonesia called ‘Running Remote’. Attended by some big names from the remote work movement, 24 inspirational speakers who were well placed to speak to us about their experience with remote work. Some of the names involved were:

  • Nick Francis, Help Scout
  • Andreas Klinger, Angel List & Product Hunt
  • Marcie Murray, Shopify
  • Anthony Pompliano, Morgan Creek Capital
  • Marvin Liao, 500 Startups
  • Zack Onisko, Dribbble
  • Ken Weary, HotJar

Pulling what I learnt from this conference along with my own learnings from living it, these are five areas I would make sure you focus on ensuring success with your remote team.

1. The right level of process and systematisation

With a remote team, more than likely you are working across multiple timezones, you will communicate via chat or video calls and it’s unlikely you’ll have the same level of interpersonal communication you’d have in an office. Which means you won’t have someone nearby you can tap on the shoulder for advice or you won’t be able to keep an eye over the new guy to make sure they are on the right path.

To get around this, you want to have more documentation and guides on-hand your team can easily refer to. You want to train your team to document everything they do as second nature and ensure team members are rarely left stuck on how to approach something. If they are stuck, this needs to be brought to your attention quickly so it never happens again. The SCRUM framework could be useful here to provide clear steps to structure the team process, along with a daily stand-up where everyone mentions their current blockers. Don’t forget a wiki-style documentation tool to allow quick creation of documents, along with easy access and search functionality.

2. Trust and autonomy

You will need to trust your team if they are remote. You may be concerned they might use remote work as an opportunity to reduce the level of effort they put in, this is not a good way to think. If you want to embrace the remote work way, you must trust your employees, not worry about their minute by minute actions and measure their performance based on their output.

To minimise any concerns they are not being productive, make sure your companies mission and vision is clear, also ensure the team objectives are understood with clear deliverables. Build-in as much automation into their workflows as you can. Ensure they can make their own decisions, move quickly and not constantly rely on you or other team members to help keep momentum. This also relates to the previous point of well-documented processes. You may also want to look into OKRs or something similar to give a standardised framework for goal setting and company alignment.

3. Culture and team building

Keep it fun. You will not have the luxury of going for a drink after work with colleagues, or regularly doing other group activities, make sure everything is not too serious. Look at ways to keep it light-hearted, if a lot of your communication is over chat, it could be easy to fall into only communicating task lists, making it very robotic. Don’t forget there are still real people behind those words, some of them may miss the interaction they enjoyed from being in a physical office previously. 

If you are using Slack, there are some add-on apps you can investigate to help encourage this, kudos style apps to show appreciation and don’t forget giphy to add a little silliness to some messages.

While you cannot interact in person with each other every day, it’s still important to make sure you meet your team in person and spend some time together. You will learn a lot more about a person this way. Organise company retreats and meet-ups, the logistics of this will depend on your overall remote structure. I’ve heard it said many times, a happy company creates happy customers and you need customers or there is no company.

4. Communication

Communication underpins all of this. If the team is not communicating well with you and each other, then none of the above will matter, however, if you address the three above points the communication should be easier and more free-flowing.

Encourage non-work conversations, ask random questions on team calls to allow everyone to get to know each other better. Don’t be alarmed, ultimately all of this will benefit the work that is produced because everyone will feel more relaxed with each other and those difficult conversations that need to happen will flow more naturally. Encourage regular calls, team leaders and managers need to speak with their team regularly individually and together at a regular cadence. 

Make sure there are company-wide calls allow the leadership team to communicate the mission and the vision while opening up the floor for your employees to ask questions. All of this come’s down to a shared understanding, the more people are on the same page the more likely everyone will unite.

5. Cultivate more awareness

To ensure you can pull the remote business off, you will need to know what is going on. Previously you could easily walk around your office, talk to a few people, read people’s body language and get a good sense of the general mood of the company. You must tune into what’s going on, using your intuition to understand how your employees are doing without the ability to observe a room.

Make sure you regularly check in with your employees, provide a self-booking calendar employees can book in to speak to you one on one if they wish. Make it easy for feedback to be provided. Again, you could make use of Slack here with feedback bots or just mail out a simple form on a monthly basis. Then there are several ways you can structure but ultimately you want to keep on top of the heartbeat of your company before it starts beating erratically.


There is no one size fit’s all here for remote work, you’ll have to tweak this for you but ultimately this is becoming a widely accepted business model. I encourage you to experience this if you haven’t already and see how it could work for you.

Hope the insights were helpful and gave you some ideas on how to fine-tune remote work for your team or company. If you have any questions, feel free to add me on Twitter or LinkedIn.

Experienced & Written by Geoff Wellman


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Meetup 7: Technology Skills of Tomorrow

Technology Skills of Tomorrow

Strong technical skills alone is not enough to run a successful IT project. A combination of communication and soft-skills along with business acumen is needed to be sure that objectives are met and outcomes are delivered.

The Problem

Business owners struggle to articulate what they need in a way that makes sense for a developer to do their job. And equally as much, engineers struggle to articulate the complexities of software to their clients in a way that makes sense to them. Technology is expanding and becoming even more complex, and businesses are relying on tech more than ever. So this problem is only getting bigger.

The importance of communication and soft skills in IT projects

The combination of technical and people skills in IT projects is so great that we have partnered with an organisation who specialises in coaching engineering teams in communication and leadership.

The Accelerator Program (Provided by Cred)

Cred works with governments and corporations to train and develop IT teams in communication and leadership and to focus on delivering business outcomes rather than focusing on only code and features. Cred has partnered with DV to deliver an accelerator program to enable IT specialists to level up their career, be in demand, over-subscribed, and to increase their income and stability. To learn more about this program click here..

The Digital Village Producer

A Digital Village Producer is a project leader who understands people, business and technology and can translate business requirements into technical solutions that deliver business outcomes.

Digital Village connects  ‘hybrids’ (a person who speaks both man and machine) to businesses on a contract and project basis. Learn more about the DV model here.