As someone who has been working remotely for the past almost 10 years and for whom remote-work is not just a sweet perk but essentially a lifeline in a lot of ways. I can practically go on talking about the benefits of remote work all day long and how it helps employees save on commute time, gives them flexibility and makes them more productive and efficient etc. At the same time, I also do not claim remote-work to be any kind of silver bullet, after all "there are no silver bullets" and working remotely has its fair share of challenges ranging from severe mental health issues to much more innocuous things like "getting nostalgic for the water cooler conversations", particularly when it has been induced by a ruthless global pandemic.
Of all the challenges with remote work, not all of them can be easily solved, but one that I come across over and over again, which I believe is not just solved, but in fact is solved better than what could have been done in a co-located environment for the most part.
What makes it particularly pernicious is that, it is often camouflaged in innocuous sounding statements such as "I am struggling to get my point across" or "I wish I could have just shown you how to". Now when the team members say such things, we need to understand that they are not in fact missing the long and arduous ride homes, or office furniture for that matter, these statements need to be considered as the symptoms and should be interpreted more clinically and a lot of times what it leads to, is the discovery that is just intrinsic to how a lot of people think i.e we are fundamentally visual creatures, maybe because the speed of light as it travels through air and space is much faster than that of sound or just the way we have been evolved, "picture speaks a thousand words" is a cliche but probably not without a good reason. Put simply they are missing Collaboration. While Remote-Work has been godsend for people who crave solitude and their Productivity has skyrocketed, it has been brutal on the Collaboration. Unfortunately a lot of folks have resigned to the circumstances and have come to accept that may be it is a choice of Productivity XOR Collaboration and you cannot have both. What if that is not the case and what if it is a false choice. That is what I want to expand further on, in this article.
So when your team members make one of these off-handed statement, a lot of time what they are alluding to is the lack of a way to express themselves or their thoughts visually, where as in the co-located environment they would have simply scribbled something on a notepad or would have broken into an impromptu whiteboarding session in a close by meeting room and completely miss their lunch because they got so engrossed in to the discussion and all the epiphanies they were coming to realize. In the remote-work environment these interaction do not happen automatically, we need to be much more intentional about them.
Now, granted that the physical whiteboard is a very small aspect of the overall whiteboarding session and I do not intend to claim supremacy of any tool over talent, but I do want to emphasise the importance of one such tool that I have not just been using in my personal projects but also have been incessantly evangelising amongst the teams that I have worked with and that is Miro. At core, it is an online collaborative whiteboarding tool that promises to bring the teams together, anytime, anywhere and delivers on the promise beyond expectations.
Over the years it has become my go to tool for whole range of scenarios be it a need to do ideation and brainstorming with the cross-functional product-teams or do strategy and planning with the executive stakeholders or be it simply to scratch my own itch to capture, organize, and structure my ideas. Miro has been truly awesome.
Well, you might be tempted to say "OK, So it allows you draw stuff online, what's such big deal ? Doesn't google already has something similar ?" but this is where you would be shortchanging its true potential. Like a lot of other great products it is not just intuitive but also extremely powerful when it comes to advanced capabilities and this is only supercharged by their extensive marketplace of integrations with other apps that you are likely be using(such as slack, notion etc) if you are even half committed to make remote-work, work for you and your team and not just be helpless about being perpetually accidentally remote.
Concluding my thoughts, I want to reiterate words of wisdom "there are no silver bullets", "only lead ones". Check out Miro today and turbo charge not just you personal productivity but ALSO unlock your teams collaboration.
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