Episode 15 | How ‘metawork’ can help your team thrive

Episode 2 October 04, 2023 00:05:22
Episode 15 | How ‘metawork’ can help your team thrive
Remote Culture Club with Alix Dunn
Episode 15 | How ‘metawork’ can help your team thrive

Oct 04 2023 | 00:05:22


Show Notes

In remote work, small decisions can have a big impact on the effectiveness of your team: how you document your work, how you share information, how and when you meet, and more.

That’s why it’s crucial to figure out your best way of working together. But it’s easy to keep your head down and avoid this work when there’s plenty to do and deadlines ahead.

In this mini-episode, Alix discusses strategies for figuring out the how of your team’s work together without derailing work or getting lost in process. Listen to learn how to make space and time to address the small but important challenges of remote work that can make or break teams.


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Episode Transcript

[00:00:07] Speaker A: Welcome to the Remote Culture Club podcast. On this show, we inspire and equip leaders to build remote culture that works. I'm your host, Alex Dunn, and even though I've been leading remote organizations for over ten years, I'm always learning more. It's really nice to have you here. And without further ado, welcome to the show. [00:00:25] Speaker B: Um, one of the most challenging things I think remote work introduces in our work life is that we have to communicate really explicitly about everything, full stop. That's really hard. And I think generally we are used to using nonverbal communication vibes to communicate what it is we actually mean and in remote settings, that just doesn't work. And I think you could probably think in the last two weeks about a slack message that you thought about multiple times about how it was going to come across when written in text. Whereas if you were able to talk to the person, you would be able to provide the texture and the flavor and sort of your intent behind the message in a way that would make it land the way you wanted it to. And that's a challenge that we face over and over and over again in remote spaces. And it's not just interpersonal communication, it's also what to expect in terms of planning, it's also how you're going to communicate about including people in things. Because a lot of this doesn't happen organically in the way that we maybe remember it did in in person settings. And I think that boils down to something I call meta work. So there's this idea in psychology that we have a part of our mental process is about thinking about how we think about things. So that's referred to as metacognition. So it's the idea that when we reflect on why we might have thought about something in a particular way or asked questions of ourselves in terms of how we respond to something, there's that sort of voice in our head that sits above our normal mental processing that's able to kind of take a step back and reflect on how we're thinking. And I like to think of that in a remote work setting as essentially meta work. So it's the work that we do to discuss and make explicit the ways that we work day to day so that's conversations like where are we making decisions? Where are we sharing documentation? And what would make that documentation valuable. It's what we need as individuals to be able to show up fully in a remote work setting. It's how we're going to maintain schedules that are flexible but also allow for appropriate amounts of collaboration. It's all these really nitty gritty details that I think sound really specific and sometimes kind of pedantic. But if you don't make them explicit and create space in your organization to engage with them directly, they can become these unsaid tangles of issues and it can cause all kinds of miscommunication, confusion, sometimes resentment, as well. People aren't clear about something, frustration if it's not easy for people to know what's expected of them. And I think meta work is something that probably would be great if it happened in in person environments too. But in remote it's necessary. You actually have to do it. And if you don't do it, things fall down. So if you're not already doing this, I would suggest you set aside time, let's say once a quarter, once every six weeks, some cadence that is consistent enough that you know it's coming up and that's a good place to park the conversation. But it's not so consistent that you're regularly sort of litigating how you do things because I think that gets kind of distracting if we have these conversations too often but have dedicated space at a regular frequency to reflect on and talk about what people are seeing in terms of the way that you work. And I think opening up that lane of conversation and that space for discussion can be incredibly empowering so that you can identify where some people may be seeing something different than you're seeing it. And also making space for explicit choices sort of allows you to collaboratively build the space in which you all are working. So meta work as an idea, spend some time working out how you work. It might sound meta, but it kind of is. And I think it's one of the things that when we see teams do a really good job with remote work, it's because they're able to dispassionately, have fantastic conversation about how it is they want to come together together and collaborate when they do. So good luck with that and get meta working.

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