At Hatica, our customer research efforts gave us an opportunity to engage with hundreds of teams adopting remote work, remote managers, and business leaders. For most of these remote teams, one of the biggest disruptors is the challenge of visibility at work. The number one question on remote leaders’ minds being, “How do we get visibility when our teams are working remotely?”. Even though this is a burgeoning issue, there is very little understanding of the multiple facets of the problem. Here, we attempt to present a definition of visibility and breakdown some aspects of the challenge while offering some quick action items to overcome these issues:
What is visibility at work?
Visibility – to see and to be seen; it is the ability of a team to share, acknowledge and appreciate the work of individuals. In addition to answering the question of “what” teams work on, visibility also answers the question of “how” teams work. As knowledge workers, we thrive on knowing that our work is recognized and valued within our organizations. This is how we take credit for hard work, keep coworkers in the loop, plan our professional trajectories, and build our networks of influence.
Gaining visibility is also how people managers and leaders understand how their teams work, ensure that teammates are aligned with the organization’s goals and culture, and find avenues to help their coworkers to perform better. A viewpoint of processes and people allows managers to gauge bottlenecks, emulate success patterns, and prepare for process improvements. Visibility snowballs into building team morale where every individual comes together to be innovative, collaborative, and supportive towards a shared purpose and vision.
What is the problem?
The digital and remote workplace has eliminated archaic processes and thought patterns surrounding work, but nevertheless, it has brought new challenges in human interconnectedness that we once took for granted – visibility becoming the most common concern for most teams. The challenge with making remote work visible is amplified due to the many factors that constitute the issue and the many expressions the same issue takes. The most common facets of the visibility problem are:
Lack of a viewpoint into people’s contributions
The problem starts at the absence of a viewpoint into people’s efforts and their contributions. In a physical office space, employees see each other, managers see their direct reports, everyone sees the effort that goes into projects, and team members and leadership are aware of each other’s contributions. In a distributed or remote workplace, teams are deprived of this obvious visibility and hence there is a gap in recognizing and rewarding credit where credit is due.
A workaround that was migrated from the physical workplace is the feedback and appraisal system. Managers rely on scheduled feedback to ascertain and correlate the right people with the right contributions and the right time. However, as teams delve into digital transformation, this feedback mechanism is being disrupted by advances in workplace data analytics.
Tip: Use a data-driven approach to visualize and derive insights into your team’s contributions, successes, and bottlenecks. Hold regular virtual 1:1 and scrum meetings to present accolades to jobs well done and also to generate feedback about concerns and issues that blocked success.