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Getting Remotely Serious: Five Ways You and Your Company Can Become Remote by Design

Jitin Agarwal

VP, Enterprise Products, EPAM
Blog
  • Remote By Design

Let’s be honest: Working remotely has knocked almost everyone off balance. Never has out-of-office work been so complicated, or so universal. In 2020, entire organizations, industries and even countries find themselves reconfigured into suddenly operating remotely. You are likely a member of such a remote team.

It’s not just a matter of relocating from a corporate cubicle to your cozy study. So much is involved. We’ve gone from at-the-office to work-from-home to work-is-home, a situation that requires redesigning, at every scale, the way we do business.

EPAM has been engaged in remote work, globally for over 20 years. We have over 36,700 employees around the world, and most of them have been functioning in a distributed, remote capacity over these past two decades collaboratively, productively and securely.

In short: We’re in a position to help explain the unvarnished facts of remote life. Working remotely can be tremendously difficult, and it demands much from those who’ve had it abruptly thrust upon them. How can you begin to meet this challenge? The first step is for you to recognize what this new world is really all about.

1. Remote Work Scrambles Your Sense of Time and Productivity

Until extremely recently, you surely interacted with colleagues in an ad hoc fashion, or in a nonlinear, real-time way because you all occupied the same office. And while you spent some time every day in meetings—perhaps sometimes a substantial amount—this still left enough time in the day, typically, to work on your specific deliverables, the actual things you were responsible for, such as writing code, crafting PowerPoint slides or penning whitepapers.

In the remote-centric present, you must invest a tremendous amount of time communicating with your colleagues and customers on the phone, on Skype or Zoom and on video meetings and chats. Most collaboration now has to be scheduled because spontaneous meetings in the hallway or an available conference room are no longer an option. As a result, the vast majority of time in an eight-to-ten-hour day goes into these digital collaborations, leaving little time left over for your actual work. This means using personal time in order to accomplish the concrete objectives and deliverables that are on your plate.

It’s far too easy, while working remotely, to lose track of that balance between what is collaborative time, productive time, research time, analysis time and even what is a little downtime in between. The near-constant communication chaos of all-remote, all-the-time work means you don’t necessarily have a view into what your time investment during a day actually looks like.

Successfully tracking and managing your time investment and ensuring your key priorities are accomplished day-to-day and week-to-week is critical.

EPAM’s Remote By Design™ solutions can enable you and your organization to understand and organize your time and  your teams. With so many businesses suddenly going virtual, there’s more need for help in optimizing your time and productivity. We can provide it.   

2. Remote Work May Deprive You of Access to Your Corporate Information Space

At the office, everyone is connected via various devices to an organization’s network. You’ve got all your files, network drives, data stores and your ERP systems. For example, if you’re a finance person or accountant, you need and have an unobstructed route to the company’s financial records. The office enables access to everyone’s key “information” through documents, forms and folders, not to mention people you can pull key knowledge from. After all, knowledge workers need information to work, which is easier to access in the office.

In our new world of remote work, you may not be able to readily tap into all that information. The infrastructure needed to do your job may not be there. Subsequently, you’re left to squirreling away data, running around asking people for records, constantly trying to find the necessary information. It’s a major challenge, a major “informational” challenge. Overcoming this challenge can be a substantial time sink, leading to a reduction in productivity and a substantial amount of frustration.

Ensuring access to key corporate data sources is imperative in the new normal of operating remotely.

Our TelescopeAI™ platform is designed from the bottom up to be remote by design. We’ve enabled all of those capabilities right out of the box. Everyone in our organization operates virtually, almost all the time, so there’s no need to try to find all this disparate information because it’s already available—whenever, wherever and however it’s needed. 

3. Remote Work Dramatically Increases the Need for Agility

Until extremely recently, business was done at a manageable pace—even factoring in the internet and continuous connectivity. You and your company responded to market demands and needs; there was a regular cadence at which you operated. For example, you might take your laptop on vacation because you didn’t want to come back to work with an unbearable load of emails. While out of the office, perhaps you organized and responded to your emails in the evenings or mornings to stay connected at a reasonable level, so that you could still maintain a level of agility in your business and work-life balance.

Given the current realities, the rate of business change is not week-to-week or month-to-month, it’s now minute-to-minute and hour-to-hour. Projects that you might have started in the morning may become irrelevant or lower priority by evening.

Performing in a hyper-agile fashion is a requirement—of everybody, all the time—because we’re tracking the market challenges in real time. For example, if your local government changes the requirements of what companies can and cannot do, you must react swiftly.

Building a hyper-agile approach to how you operate remotely is pivotal to meeting the business challenges of the new normal.  

EPAM’s operating model embraces that level of hyper-agility. We are an agile organization; it’s in our DNA. We’ve worked for decades in this way and understand deeply how to innovate and adapt as market conditions and customer needs change. EPAM can help your organization with these challenges because we know them—we live them and breathe them every day. EPAM has stress-tested our environments and learned how to withstand hyper-agility while still performing and delivering.

4. Remote Work Fogs the Window into Your Colleagues’ Work

In the office, it was relativity easy to know what your coworkers and teammates were working on. Perhaps you also had regular team meetings, weekly status updates or even a 15-minute daily scrum. Everyone was present and could regularly congregate to trade information. You understood what was going on and what your peers were contributing to your team objective.

In our new remote world, it’s very difficult to have an awareness and understanding of how and what your colleagues are doing, and how they’re doing it. Exacerbating the first point above: The fact that you’re spending all your day in virtual meetings and not receiving the information you need – it becomes a vicious loop. When you lack critical information, you must schedule more meetings and there is less time to perform your actual work.

The lack of visibility into what your colleagues and coworkers are doing is influencing you dramatically, which you may not even realize.

Learning how to collaborate efficiently and effectively with the all-remote, all-the-time teams of today is mission critical to not only your success, but your whole team’s performance.

Our Remote By Design solutions offer visibility into your teams. By establishing elements, such as ownership of delivery, product management and key responsibilities, we provide the ability for borderless collaboration, which is essential right now. 

5. Remote Work May Distance You from Your Organization’s Objectives

Working remotely may create challenges in understanding your company’s current business objectives. Previously, you may have had greater visibility into your business goals through yearly, quarterly or monthly reviews that determine your objectives. This information filtered down to you via the people you saw every day in the office or in townhall or all-hands meetings.

Candidly, it’s difficult at the new pace of business in an all-remote, all-the-time era to understand how you and your team are coalescing to achieve the goals and objectives that align with your organization’s overall direction. Unfortunately, it’s the corporate end goal, and your team’s ability to influence, support and even drive the organization’s bottom-line, by which you’ll be measured. It’s tricky at the best of times, with all the resources available, to work towards corporate end objectives. With everything and everyone now remote all the time—that challenge has become near impossible. Yet it is your challenge and reality.  

Creating and maintaining clarity around how you and your team are effectively driving your organizational objectives is a requirement in the new normal.

EPAM’s TelescopeAI platform produces weekly and monthly reports to help you understand how your team is contributing towards the KPIs, OKRs or SLAs your business leaders have set. Let’s say your leader wants you to double your output. How are you contributing? How is your team contributing? How is your organization contributing towards achieving that goal? Our platform looks at things at both a micro and macro level to ensure that your team’s activities are aligned against the key metrics your business is targeting. With distance, much visibility is lost—and you need to regain it because without it, you’re operating in a vacuum. 

Becoming Remote by Design

Circumstance has forced nearly everyone into working remotely. Today, many companies are experiencing a kind of shock or denial toward the extreme challenges of remote work. EPAM can help educate, arm and enable you and your company for this challenge. We’ve always been remote by design. Now it’s your turn. 

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