Remote Operating Model Design Process - Step 7

Part eight in a series of blogs describing how to design operating models where location is irrelevant and your teams can design their work around their lives rather than the other way around.

This is eighth article in a multi-part series:

Part one | Part two:Step 1Step 2 | Step 3Step 4Steps 5 & 6Step 7


Step seven: Detailed design and implementation

Once the high level design is completed leadership moves into detailed design and implementation planning. Depending on the size of the operating model change this might require careful planning. Again there’s a fair bit more here than is suited to a blog but this may include:

Allocation of people to teams (note: this can be done as a participatory exercise)

remote:af patterns:

  • team interaction design (explicit interaction agreements);
  • team of team launches;
  • team launches;
  • leadership team launches;
  • all hands planning;
  • strategic planning;
  • product discovery / inception.

Design and launch of virtual obeyas which visualise the information that is critical for effective remote decision making;

Talent needs:

  • talent acquisition requirements (from other parts of the organisation, vendors or the broader market);
  • requirements for temporary capacity or team augmentation from vendors;
  • identification of specialist skills that we may need to bring in from the market or enable through professional development;
  • identification of excess capacity that may be able to be redeployed in other parts of the organisation or stood down.

Tooling needs:

  • Tools to support working remotely (e.g. virtual collaboration, digital whiteboards, instant messaging, team and portfolio kanban boards);
  • Specialist remote facilitation tools (e.g. https://www.videofacilitator.com);
  • Tools to support visualisation of organisational networks and to understand adherence to design principles (e.g. https://www.teamform.co/);
  • Tools to support visualisation of the flow of value through teams (e.g. (https://www.flomatika.com/);
  • Tools to support the identification and management of impediments to flow of value (e.g. https://blockedapp.co).

Space needs:

  • Terminating or renegotiating leases;
  • Acquiring flexible space arrangements;
  • Re-configuring workplaces (e.g. to provide support for emerging needs like video and audio production);
  • Considering home workspace needs (ergonomics, lighting, power and telecoms reliability, etc.).

Social Network Stimulation:

  • Remote / hybrid workplaces require deliberate Social Network Stimulation in order to build the crucial relationships that allow us to work across the artificial boundaries created by operating model design;
  • Design cadenced events that deliberately incentivise people to work across organisational silos;
  • Where geographical constraints permit, design events that bring the whole team together regularly to bond in person (not necessarily in the office).

In heavily unionised or highly political environments you may need to be quite explicit about the change and involve industrial relations. In more flexible environments it is recommended that you move into the new model first through prototyping and scaling and then codify it (see ‘Codify the Operating Model’).

Your people are often your biggest asset so this is also a great opportunity to have a think about what you can do with some of the money that you’ve saved from reducing office space:

  • Perhaps you could give your team members a budget to spend on the home office on things like energy sustainability & reliability, telecoms reliability, ergonomics, privacy, comfort, etc?
  • Perhaps you could give your teams a budget to be used within constraints to regularly get together socially - as a team, and also across teams? Perhaps that budget can be more per diem in nature and not be subject to annoying controls?
  • Perhaps you could explore solutions like Starlink to provide internet connectivity from anywhere and distributed office space to enable your teams to truly work from anywhere?

Return to part two: the remote:af operating model design process

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