March 2020 we launched the Remote Agility Framework (remote:af®) and since then it has gone from strength to strength and is now being utilised nationally with companies across Australia as well as across the world. We’ve trained 47 Guides , 31 Practitioners, 16 Navigators and have three partners.
We’ve presented at conferences, meetups, podcasts and client meetings and yet the things we regularly hear are, “ What is it really”, “Where did it come from” and “ Isn’t it just another agile framework” or “isn’t it just a bunch of miro boards”?
The intent of this blog is to provide the answers to those questions and more.
Where did it come from?
In January 2020 it was becoming obvious that COVID19 was going to present significant challenges for all industries and organisations across the world. This included the consultancy that remote:af® founder Andrew Blain was also a founder of, Elabor8® an Australian management consultancy.
Though consulting teams are primarily remote from head office by their nature, until 2020 customers would largely demand that services were delivered on-site. This was a strategic threat that required a response.
During the ensuing weeks Andrew had what we jokingly call his “Isaac Newton” moment of clarity whilst musing on this challenge. The only difference in this case was the apple turned out to be remote:af®. Andrew's reasoning was that if we could bring to bear the decades of collective experience Elabor8 had in agile adoption with remote / distributed teams, we could use the pandemic as an opportunity to prove that remote teams can be more effective than their collocated counterparts and bank significant , long term environmental and social benefits.
The vision of remote:af® now firmly outlined in his mind, Andrew brought a group of us together off the back of that moment as a mission team. A team with a clear vision to create a capability to address remote working combined with an added focus around making an impact in regard to sustainability, environmental, societal and commerciality.
In doing so this would not only enable his consultancy to respond to the challenge of remote working, it would create a framework for all organisations and people around the world that were already working or about to find themselves working remotely.
To explain that framework I am going to take a different tact than usual and break it down via each of the words in the name.
The focus of remote:af® is primarily on remote or hybrid (remotish as we call it) working. Outside of a handful of innovators, organisations across the world have merely dabbled with flexible working, often more for cost and convenience than for performance, and usually in a way that replicates their physical environment.
The advent of COVID19 simply created the lightning rod moment that has shifted the remote working early adopter mindset to a mainstream reality and necessity for organisations. The remote working genie is out of the bottle so to speak and is not going back, the world has changed and this is the “Next Normal”.There are too many proven financial, social, environmental and wellbeing benefits (if done well) for companies to fully revert.
We chose agility for a particular reason, one of those being that remote:af® is not an agile method and the word agile is perceived as such regardless. I will address this further in the Framework section.
To explain why we chose agility let’s look at the dictionary definition:
- Ability to move quickly and easily
- Ability to think and understand quickly.
Source: Oxford Dictionary
The events of the last two years have not only taught us, they have brought it home in succinct fashion that the organisations who survive are the ones that can pivot and adapt to the speed of change that is being forced upon them. Whether that speed of change is technological, environmental or right now pandemic driven conditions.
Agility in the remote:af® sense is that we provide organisations with an ability to evolve context sensitive, location agnostic ways of working. This enables them to respond with the necessary speed to a rapidly changing environment as well as enabling them to be successful in responding to the speed of change and ambiguity that moving to a remote way of working can bring.
The forming of the remote:af® team brought together a large body of knowledge and patterns that have been used in many organisations over many years in remote work environments. The word framework represents the modular structures we have used to frame those patterns and knowledge. Besides, we didn’t think we were cool enough to use patterns as the main identifier …. R:AP.
Jocularity aside, I want to take a moment as I believe this is the appropriate point to talk about what remote:af® is and is not:
remote:af® is not: an agile or project management method, it’s not a methodology, nor a delivery tool. It’s not just a set of canvases.
remote:af® is: a modular framework, supported by a community of experts, that contains a collection of patterns and a context sensitive body of knowledge that enables the exploration and design for remote working in the context of the organisation, regardless of their methods of working and renders the need to be location specific irrelevant.
In bringing together all of these components we have created what we believe to be the world's first enterprise grade framework for remote working, helping organisations purposefully design their ways of working to suit both fully remote and distributed or hybrid models, remote:af®.