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Remote Work and Personal Trust
What is necessary for product teams to work remotely?
How can engineers and product managers work remotely and be successful?
Remote work has its own, additional challenges. Working remotely has been possible for some people for a long time, and for most office workers since the beginning of the Covid pandemic.
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Many factors are important for remote work to be successful:
High-quality tech (laptop, headset or speakerphone, webcam). Quality pays off. Cheaper tech saves money in the short run, but causes extra strain in the long run.
Good furniture: Prevents back pain from working at a laptop on the kitchen table for hours.
Stable and fast internet connection: Obviously, this is a prerequisite, but it is not yet a given in many locations.
Processes that allow for remote and asynchronous work.
Tools that make it easy to reach and connect to co-workers.
The most important factor: Trust
However, it turns out that the most important factor for successful remote work is personal trust. This includes trust from your manager and trust from co-workers from your own department and other departments.
When people trust others to work openly, share concerns, do what they promised, then remote work becomes possible in the first place.
Personal trust is a major prerequisite for Psychological Safety.
Why are product managers used to work in a trusting environment?
Product managers usually do not have all resources to complete tasks on their own. In development projects, engineers do the engineering work, while product managers coordinate the work (not to forget the designers!). Therefore, product managers need to influence others without authority.
In this work ssetup, product managers rely on personal trust all the time. They are used to working based on trust, because their job requires it, be it in the office or remotely.
The change from office work to remote work therefore does not change much on the necessity of personal trust, so that product managers should be - usually - good at remote work.
Looking further: What about other roles?
Now that product managers are assumed to rely on personal trust anyway, what about other roles? It turns out that software engineers, data architects and other technical roles also need to lead without authority.
Of course, trust is not limited to any role. The best cultures create a space of trust independently from office or remote work.
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