How to Succeed as a Remote Leader: Include, Innovate, & Iterate

July 23, 2021

TRANSFORMING
WORK

WITH
SOPHIE WADE

How to Succeed as a Remote Leader: Include, Innovate, & Iterate

How to Succeed as a Remote Leader: Include, Innovate, & Iterate

Sacha Connor—Founder and CEO of Virtual Work Insider—was a remote work pioneer for The Clorox Company. Sacha explains how she transitioned to working 3000 miles away from HQ for eight years and became the first fully remote member of the Leadership Team of a $1 billion division. Sacha shares how processes were reimagined, what issues arose, what solutions were developed, as well as surprising benefits gained along the way.

KEY TAKEAWAYS

[03:50] Sacha discusses her career in marketing.

[05:28] Why Sacha chose to go remote and move 3000 miles away from her company HQ.

[06:29] How Sacha planted seeds over time to get agreement to work remotely as an experiment.

[08:32] A trusted relationship laid the foundation for constructive conversations about how it could work.

[09:29] How Sacha was allowed to lead an innovation team remotely.

[10:43] The three major career limitations that were initially part of Sacha’s remote arrangement.

[11:26] How risk was assessed in allowing this remote experiment.

[12:15] Potential was initially linked to promotability which was tied to location.

[12:38] How acceptance was enabled by The Clorox Company’s existing performance management system which tracked her defined and detailed objectives and measured her success.

[13:55] Surveys allowed Sacha to monitor team sentiment and development of trusting relationships that were important for virtual collaboration.

[14:40] What were some of the challenges and benefits of remote working across time zones?

[15:50] How to work effectively with new team members.

[17:27] Sacha’s steep learning curve and technology challenges in 2010.

[20:19] Adapting workflow for a distributed innovation team.

[21:54] Sharing experiences, learnings, and resources improved effectiveness.

[22:24] How the Employee Resource Group for remote workers helped employees bridge gaps between office locations too.

[23:40] Sacha became an influential pioneer regarding Future of Work adaptations at a 100-year old organization.

[25:06] Definitions of workplace flexibility, hybrid models and working, and remote working.

[26:47] ‘Virtual’ used as a term to encompass work and relationships across locations.

[28:51] Myth #1: The ‘magic’ generated by chance office encounters does not happen in virtual environments.

[31:03] Intentionally establishing rituals to create the interactions that enable creativity, influence, problem-solving, and ideation for virtual and multi-office workers.

[32:58] The importance of stimulating intersections of people across divisions and networks.

[34:05] Myth #2: Brainstorming effectively is not possible in virtual environments.

[36:09] Unintended (beneficial) consequences of new processes for virtual brainstorming.

[38:35] Hybrid meetings: reducing the challenges and biases, and improving inclusiveness requires facilitation and conscious action.

[40:10] The impact of a ‘virtual-first’ work approach and being intentional about how work is done.

[44:05] Whatever workforce and workplace strategies companies are working on now are not the final answer—it takes a flexible and iterative approach.

[45:21] It takes an infinite mindset to tackle the Future of Work—with each organization iterating and adjusting as they go.

[47:15] Everyone needs to upskill for new work circumstances and learning virtual leadership skills, whatever role employees are in.

[48:30] More areas to emphasize to enhance virtual work—setting expectations clearly; building relationships; fostering a culture of trust and inclusion; having the right technology tools; and teaching how to use the tools.

[49:05] Empathy is key for understanding each other beyond the virtual curtains between people and other ‘soft’ skills which are critical.

[50:42] IMMEDIATE ACTION TIP: Have empathy for yourself and others in order to be able to adjust and iterate and make this next transition. Everyone is at a different stage and comfort level about what’s next.

QUOTES

“Do we want to live near the careers that we love or near the people that we love?”

“They trusted me and trust is a huge component with remote work. They knew I was dedicated.”

“Innovation felt like one step removed from the risk (of being remote) because it was something that we were preparing for the future.”

“Potential was linked to promotability which was linked to location.”

“You think about measuring performance. You need to have that in place whether you’re located together or not.”

“The seemingly innocuous moments that happen on the way to the elevator, they’re actually moments of influence. They're moments of problem-solving, connection, and idea generation.”

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