Tools that Power Remote Work with Marilyn Zakhour

I kick-started my week with the first workshop of Bloom’s Lebanon Growth Accelerator program, with the fantastic Marilyn Zakhour from Cosmic Centaurs! She discussed the future of work, how to think about remote work and new mindsets for new ways of working, and found that information really helpful. I feel like we tend to take for granted that we adapt so fast, and we forget that we can learn to make our shifting lives better and more efficient every day. 

The world, as we know it, has been changing for a while and will continue to do so. However, the pace has felt more intense in the last year or so, leaving many of us feeling like we’re stuck in a whirlwind, with different definitions of what reality is. Will, I ever re-experience life as I knew it before 2020, and before joining Bloom? We’re all suddenly forced to learn new working styles that have been brewing at Bloom and other remote organizations for a while. You see, I recently joined Bloom, so remote work was convenient and made sense. However, their mission has initially been to increase access to quality training and education by going virtual, even before lockdown.

Marilyn has some great insights concerning adapting to this new age at work (or, more likely, from home). Here are a few ideas and pieces of advice that could help!

To start, Marilyn shared with us her unconventional career path. This was very important to know, as some of our careers are not linear, and our CVs as an all don’t always make sense, and that’s ok! However, after many years of self-exploration, she realized that she was passionate about human collaboration. She loves discovering what could happen when people come together. She also took into consideration where the world was heading, noticing this direction even before 2020. That’s how she started Cosmic Centaurs, strategizing and implementing programs to help clients and their teams adapt to the new ‘where’ and ‘how’ of work and learning. 

Company leaders and employees around the world are increasingly converting to remote work enthusiasts. Flexible work is here to stay: it benefits organizations, and offers advantages for employees, giving them approximately 37 extra minutes with their family, and 45+ extra minutes of sleep per day. On the other hand, employees can start feeling disconnected, and employees’ disengagement negatively influences work performance. 

How do we go about these changes?

Marilyn suggests examining and reassessing our mindsets. It’s about choosing your priorities over getting rid of behaviors, the latter being adapted to the new world.

Top 3 quick wins you can bring to your virtual team today:

  • Asynchronous communication: she suggests documenting everything instead of just relying on spontaneous, synchronous communication. That way, you could go back to that document at any given moment. That works even better when your teammates are based on different sides of the globe. 
  • Weekly reviews: she also suggests that teams get together on Zoom weekly to look back at what they could have done better. Feedback is not about blaming anyone, just learning from that cycle. 
  • Team rituals: she pushes strongly for implementing team rituals that help each member get closer and establish a rapport with each other. Some of us shared our respective rituals. For example, at Bloom we have our daily morning calls (we shared one of our weekly facilitations here) and Marilyn’s team celebrates their wins with team Zoom ice cream celebrations!

At the end of the day, we agreed that the mindsets we need to be successful in remote work (and in life) are the following:

  • Empathy: you don’t know what a person is feeling, what they’ve been through and what they’re still going through. Every single person is as complex as you. 
  • Collaboration: you’re a TEAM. There’s no such thing as “you’re wrong, I’m right.”
  • Iteration: get comfortable with trying things that might not work. Do you! 

Finally, to top all of this information off, we’d like to share with you our favorite tools for remote work:

Bloom, our baby. It’s a collaboration and remote work tool for teams to learn by doing. Beyond standard project management features like a kanban board, assignable tasks, labels, and more, it includes a Daily Reviews for improving team alignment and communications, elements for people to share insights or external feedback (like customer interviews), and mentorship support. It can be used by individual teams or people in programs using Bloom for Programs. You can sign up to test our alpha platform!

Loom, a tool to record and share video messages of your screen, cam, or both. It comes in handy when you want to give someone a step-by-step guide when you’re working remotely. 

Miro, an online collaborative whiteboarding platform that enables distributed teams to work effectively together, from brainstorming with digital sticky notes to planning and managing agile workflows.

Trello is also a collaboration tool that organizes your projects into boards. In one glance, Trello tells you what’s being worked on, who’s working on what, and where something is in a process.

Asana is a web and mobile application designed to help teams organize, track, and manage their work.

Airtable, an easy-to-use online platform for creating and sharing relational databases.

Pocket is an application and web service for managing a reading list of articles and videos from the Internet. You’ll find all your saved links on the same page, with a preview and chosen tags.

That’s all – for now!

Interested in registering for more free workshops with LGA? Click here and head to the LGA Interest Form at the bottom of the page! 

Nour from the Bloom Team
Community Manager

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