Blog: Remote Work + Parenting
2016 is here! As we begin a New Year, there's a tendency to reflect on old- and new- resolutions for both the personal and work fronts. Last year, I became a proud father to Nina. Naturally, like any other parent, I imagine, one of my focuses is on continuously becoming the best parent I can be to my child, Nina. I anticipate having continued writings on the topics of parenthood and growth; for today, though, I want to briefly touch on the nature of remote work and how it's evolved for us at Tesla. Also, how remote work, particularly in tech, has the potential to support a shift toward a desirable family-work balance.
Async tools & connectivity
With the advent reliable asyncronization-communication tools, like Slack and Google Hangouts, and higher-speed Internet connectivity being more widely available, although not equally across the globe for all communities just yet, there is little reason why remote work should not be considered an option amongst teams, at least teams that are more oriented around technology that create digital products where reliable Internet connectivity is also available to all teammates.
Working globally, cultivating diversity
At Tesla, we've been building out our team over the last few years, and though we're based out of North America, we now have teammates located in various countries and continents. So, remote work, especially asyncronization communication part of remote work, is something we experience everyday and are consciously refining the dynamics and processes of it as the needs of individuals, the team and the company are identified. For instance, depending on who's working on what and where they happen to geographically be on any given day, we have to take into account time zone differences in order to do timely work check-ins and project handoffs. This is particularly the case for working with our teammates in Europe, China or Mexico. Most of us based in North America are considered full-time, in-office teammates, like myself, but we have some flexibility. More on this momentarily.
Another great thing that remote work offers our team, is that it can foster a culture of diversity, bring about different, innovative ideas and prospectives to problems and life. All of these things have been a value-add to our team.
Let's wrangle code & go to the docs
Where remote work has really been helpful for me lately, on a personal level, is being able to spend time with my daughter during the daytime and be available to care for her. While I'm not currently in a position to work remotely 100% of the time, from time-to-time, I get some windows of opportunity to leverage remote work. For example, remote work has allowed me to just be with Nina nearby, next to her, during the daytime so I can hold her, change her diapers, take her to her first doctor's appointment, read to her, take her for a walk, bathe her, rock her to sleep, and simply just be with her; then, be able to jump online with my teammates to continue my work. The beneficial examples of remote work, whether part-time, like in my case, or full-time for those that have it, are endless.
Remote work has also allowed me to be supportive of my teammates when they have needed to travel to be with their own family. Whether a teammate had to travel across the globe to be with family living abroad, or renew a visa, for example, an intentional remote work policy and set of processes can help individuals stay connected with loved ones domestically and abroad, not to mention, it helps cut down on the daily commute: who wants to drive on the
880 everyday if you don't have to?!
Do you have remote work as an option?
So, as we move forward into 2016, ask yourself: do I have a remote work option where I work? If yes, what are you doing to refine it to meet the various, evolving needs of the team, the company, and of your teammates, including your own? If you don't have a remote work option or policy, why not? Are you in an industry that explicitly forbids it by some legalese or law? If not, pose the question of remote work to your teammates, or your direct supervisor, to get a feel if it's something your team not only wants but could benefit from having.
Exploring remote work
If you're exploring remote work for the first time, somethings you want to consider as a part of what you propose to your teammates and leadership are:
- Tools. What tools are available to use to stay in touch with remote staff? E.g. Slack, Google Docs, etc.
- Processes. What process(es) need to be in-place to support an inclusive and clear line-of-communication remote work environment?
- Expectations. What is expected of each person working remotely?
If you're curious what has worked for me and my teammates so far in the area of remote work, feel free to reach out and I'd be happy to share or even write a follow-up post on these details. In advance though:
- Trust your teammates and be there for one another
- Communicate with one another regularly even if it's in short bursts as a team to keep critical information flowing and removing the occassional obstacles that arise, and
- Create and nurture an adaptive, inclusive culture. Go into remote work that is viewe and experienced as a safe and welcome environment for everyone. For instance, your coworkers should feel not only physically safe, but also mentally or psychologically safe in participating with the team the group and company's efforts.
In the meantime, here's to a great New Year to everyone ✨
I am a problem solver: a tech and people leader with a passion and proven track-record in building and leading empathetic, productive teams—remote and on-site—within a continuous learning culture, while championing usable, inclusive digital products and online experiences. I am also a father, advisor, life-long learner, advocate, community builder, and speaker—I am Human. Learn more