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    Since March 2020, our teams have been working from home.

    It didnt take long to realize Applauz staff were thriving in their new work way of working. Many decided to move out of the city, while others took advantage and worked abroad in places like Mexico and South America.

    Unsurprisingly, productivity and output didn't change; rather, they improved. All these benefits convinced Applauz's leadership to stay 100% remote.

    Still, remote work has come with its fair share of challenges.

    Addressing challenges

    I spoke with our VP of Product and Marketing about his experience managing remote teams. We discussed the inevitable challenges of managing people from afar and how Applauz has set up a system and processes to address these obstacles.

    In addition, we talked about how to maintain connections and culture in a remote work environment. Applauz has become even more tight-knit while they worked apart, as you may be surprised to find out.

    Read on to learn more about how Applauz has achieved such great results in this new era of work.

    How Applauz Manages Its Remote Teams in the New Era of Work

    What is your role at Applauz?

    VP of Product and Marketing. It's two roles in one. I mostly oversee the Marketing and Design departments, along with Customer Service. I also have a hand in the software's overall experience and general direction. I basically consider myself an enabling force. I am here to provide context, bridge communication, help direct conversations, and support every department with my sage-like wisdom and awesome personality.

    How long has your team been remote, and is everyone working remotely?

    Over two years now. We were basically "remote" the minute the lockdown happened.

    Why did your company decide to go fully remote?

    At first, the decision was made for all of us. We soon found that working from home, or working remotely in any case, was proving to be a mostly positive thing.

    Once we got over the first few months of uncertainty and began to adjust to our new reality, the benefits became more obvious to everyone.

    We've since embraced the remote workplace in a big way! We feel that it gives our people greater autonomy, flexibility and control over balancing their lives with the contributions they make to our organization. In short, we believe it makes everyone happier. In turn, the company benefits tremendously on so many levels.

    What changes have you noticed in your team's performance since the switch to remote work?

    Individual performance, overall quality, and general output have measurably improved. We haven't missed a beat regarding our team's contributions.

    I believe that despite people's perception about remote-first companies, working apart has somehow brought us all closer together.

    On the surface, It may seem paradoxical, But when I say "closer," I don't mean it in the physical sense. What I actually mean is — I feel like we have a strong, vibrant company culture, and I believe that it's not simply a measure of physical proximity. After all, distance can make the heart grow fonder, or was it stronger? On the whole, we all know that happier and more engaged employees, on average, perform better than their counterparts. Unsurprisingly, we're benefiting greatly from supporting a healthy workplace even if we took the physical "place" part out of work.

    How do you ensure the work gets done and everyone is accountable for their work?

    We have adopted a results-oriented approach to work and accountability. In practice, this boils down to establishing service-level agreements with our teams and setting clear and transparent processes that empower them to deliver their best results.

    We've also embraced the asynchronous digital workday. We don't require our employees to ask permission for how and where they work. They're offered full autonomy over their work/life balance in exchange for complete accountability for their results.

    In regards to management, we practice "Management by way of enablement." The concept is based on our constant effort to support operational efficiencies that enable our people to achieve their objectives.

    However, in a more functional sense, we host regularly scheduled team meetings, along with strategic interdepartmental meetings we call "alignments" to help further connect people from different areas of our organization. We also rely on various cloud-based applications to support us every day, without which working remotely is impossible to do.

    What has been the biggest challenge in managing remote teams?

    The biggest challenge for me was the idea of not having access in real-time to the people I count on every day. As a manager, I used to rely on the physical presence of others to justify my purpose on some level. There was a time not so long ago when people needed to "show up" to work for any work to actually get done.

    How do you address those challenges?

    Working from home brought with it a whole new paradigm. It required me to reassess how to approach my job. If I wanted to be an effective leader in this new environment, I needed to question legacy processes, old principles, and conventional thinking was off the table.

    I've learned that being a good manager in a remote setting meant that I needed to become more available, give more autonomy and trust to the people I count on, and ultimately empower and support them in any way I could.

    Working remotely has its fair share of challenges to overcome. But I believe it's well worth it. Leaders have got to also understand that they need to be ready to adapt, to change their approach and way of thinking.

    In terms of culture, how has your company been proactive in keeping culture alive?

    We have been proactive in keeping culture alive in many ways!

    First off, we make it a point to organize official in-person events a few times per year. These events have been important in bringing people together and for people who are new to connect with the older members of the team.

    But we also sustain our culture by staying connected (virtually, of course) regularly in meaningful ways.

    Applauz, our very own platform, is one of the tools that help us achieve this. Our team members use the Applauz Newsfeed to share life updates and funny anecdotes.

    We've also launched monthly challenges, for example, asking everyone in the company to participate in a charitable act and use the Newsfeed to document it.

    And of course, everyone in our company engages in giving regular recognition.

    When people take the time to appreciate each other in little ways consistently, it uplifts the energy and morale of the company. You can truly feel positive energy bringing everyone together.

    If someone claims a culture cannot survive in a remote setting, what would you say to them?

    I'd say that culture is not a place — it's a value system.

    We sometimes mistake culture with physical proximity, but culture does not simply exist within geographic borders. I mean, doesn't It take more than being next to someone to say you're truly connected to them?

    A company's culture is based on the quality of its people and their shared values and purpose, regardless of where they are physically located. I understand that it almost seems antithetical to say that culture can exist and thrive in a remote work environment, but that is exactly what I've witnessed since we've gone fully remote.

    Michelle Cadieux
    Michelle Cadieux

    Michelle is the lead content writer at Applauz. She has a Psychology background and loves to read and write about human happiness, motivation and decision-making. She loves scary movies and cooking classic Italian food.

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