5 Levels of Remote Work – Demanding very Different Skills and Mindsets from Managers and Employees, Part 1

What measures can you, as entrepreneur and manager, take during the crisis, that will simultaneously put your company on the right path for further digitalisation? 

Depending on how companies work – what organisational structures they have, what tools they use, and to what extent employees can work independently and decentrally – they need different competencies, attitudes, and leadership instruments. 

To precisely illustrate these, Bettina Rollow and I have taken the 5-level model of Remote Work, created by the digital pioneer Matt Mullenweg, and have developed a landscape of competencies based on it. It can help you as a leader to:

  • Locate your company on a scale between “entirely stationary” and “entirely mobile”.
  • Understand the conditions that must be given for employees to successfully work remotely. 
  • sketch a developmental path for your company, how you as a team can work together more flexibly and autonomously.

Matt Mullenwegs 5-level model

As the founder of WordPress (today Automattic), the world’s largest content-management system, Matt Mullenweg lead over 1200 employees in 65 countries entirely decentralised. He has been engaged with decentralised and remote forms of work for many years, and has developed this 5-level model: 

Level 0: location-based work: little chance of decentralisation

Level 1: obligation to show up: work takes place in the office

Level 2: digital tools – analogue forms of work

Level 3: digital tools lead to new forms of work and leadership

Level 4: decentralised work is the new norm

Level 5: nirvana – you can always go further

Every level corresponds to a special mindset and set of competencies, without which the respective forms of leadership and work could not function. The 5-level model gives us an orientation of which outer forms of organisation and work are connected to which mindsets, attitudes and competencies. This map is the first step towards coherent, effective action. 

Read a full exploration of the 5-level model in the second part of this article.

Joana Breidenbach and Bettina Rollow

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 If you’d like to know how you can improve your work, your team, and finally your organisation, take a look at our online course