How do you make remote work actually work?
During the pandemic, remote work was thrust upon the world whether everyone was ready for it or not. We made it through, but some are insisting that we go back to the old way of work. Perhaps remote work wasn’t as successful for them.
So what do successful remote work partnerships look like? What has caused some to embrace working remotely with their executive assistant, even when they no longer have to?
Erika Williams, the founder of the management consulting company Albireo, knows the answer.
When You’re Too Busy To Be Busy
Like many successful founders, Erika found her business growing rapidly. Albireo focuses on the social purpose sector, helping foundations, non-profits, and other organizations deliver their intended mission.
“I was just feeling overwhelmed,” Erika said, describing that wonderful (but challenging) moment when your business is taking off faster than you can manage it.
Erika had assembled an incredible team at Albireo, but she needed a senior executive assistant to help her out. Turning to her network connections, she discovered Boldly through a client’s recommendation.
Boldly’s reputation for providing top-notch executive assistants was impressive, but what caught Erika’s attention was how much emphasis was placed on matching her with the right person. And that’s the key, she discovered, when it comes to making remote work actually work.
Connecting The Right People
Erika contacted Boldly, and had an immediate response. “They took the time to make a perfect match,” she said. “I said I needed someone funny, industrious, smart, and who could write well. I also wanted someone in my time zone.”
That’s where Boldly team member Tracy Holmgren came in.
For remote working relationships to be successful, the match has to go both ways. Both the client and the executive assistant need to agree that things will work.
For Erika and Tracy, they knew it was an ideal match after just fifteen minutes of talking. They both got along well, operated and worked in a similar way, and there was clearly great synergy possible.
Today, both agree that they get along very well, sincerely caring about the success and well-being of the other person. That’s a crucial piece to the remote work puzzle. Remote working relationships do not function productively unless the connection is real enough to care about outcomes and the big picture instead of merely getting tasks done.
Keep Communication Flowing Openly & Honestly
“We’re in a Zoom world,” Erika said. “Everyone wants to get on a call.” During the pandemic, she could be on calls nonstop, leaving very little room to do the actual work that came out of the call.
Tracy saw that happening and stepped in to fiercely protect Erika’s calendar. She created time blocks, and carefully scheduled calls and meetings. “It is very important to me that she has time to think, write, and do what she’s supposed to do,” Tracy said. “The demands on her time are high. Her inbox fills with thousands of emails in a week.”
There were moments, though, when Erika needed some of that time freed up. Because she had a good working relationship with Tracy, she was comfortable asking her to do so. “There were times I had to ask her to let go.”
Open lines of communication are required if remote work is going to function. Everyone involved has to have established an honest relationship that allows the flexibility to solve problems, working through any hiccups directly, immediately, and openly.
They also have to be willing to share their personal lives because it can affect when and how they are able to work at times. Both Erika and Tracy share what’s going on in their lives, which has had the happy side effect of increasing their trust in each other.
If Tracy makes a mistake, she tells Erika immediately, and vice versa. “You have to create space for the other person to be honest and open,” Tracy explained.
Erika would agree. “If there’s a time when someone isn’t meeting expectations, they need to be told sooner rather than later in order to leave room for course correction,” she said. “I believe in open feedback as often as possible because it makes for a better relationship down the road.”
“When you work remotely, you need that personal connection with people,” Tracy added.
Connecting with the right person as your executive assistant, and fostering an honest and open working relationship, makes remote work work.
Connect with us today if you’d like to get started down a path of remote work success with someone you can build a trusting working relationship with.
Published on July 27th, 2023