Shifting to remote work can be disrupting for companies that do not have a remote working policy. In light of COVID-19, companies across the globe are turning to remote work to keep their people safe. If you are considering remote work you might be concerned about communication, productivity and workflows, especially since your teams are not used to being location-independent.
At Fynd, we have created an action plan to smoothly transition to remote work and ensure safety of our people.
If work from home is a new concept for your teams, Remote Work 101 will help you empower your people to get the most out of work when home becomes the “main office”.
Step #1. First and foremost, stay healthy and follow the preventive measures to be safe
Step #2. Adopt daily personal practices to keep the momentum going
Processes work only when people trust each other — remote or otherwise. Help your teams get into a positive mindset with these practices:
- Value People — Treat people with respect and value their time. Empower people by making them feel responsible and inspired to do their best work without the distractions of continuous tracking. Start this off by setting clear expectations, providing transparent feedback and continuous communication.
- Prioritise Tasks — Every task feels like the most important one when you do not know where to start. Instead of getting into the mode of “everything is urgent” and finally dumping all the tasks, try working backwards. Identify tasks that are not a priority and eliminate them. You will have fewer things to consider and more time to get things done.
- Communication — Clear, transparent communication is the bedrock that makes remote work successful. Avoid jargon, acronyms and use language that is clear. Encourage team members to communicate consistently and give little more information than necessary to make a task as clear as possible.
- Assume Positive Intent — In remote teams it is very easy to fall prey to negatives because you are not talking in-person. Try not to read between the lines and always communicate positively.
- Maintain work-life balance — It is easy to be swept away at work when there is no clear division between work and life. It might seem great in the short-term but you eventually risk burnout. Let people know that they don’t always have to be ‘on’, instead focus on productivity. Maintain a balance, set a schedule and stick to it.
Here is the list of tools that we use to communicate and collaborate effectively at work, wherever that maybe. Do not rush to implement new tools, use the apps that you use every day.
Step #3. Follow personal productivity plan
Prepare for a productive remote work environment that helps you focus.
Setup home office
Setup a work environment that is just your place to work, away from constant interruptions. Find a room with a door, a table, chair, laptop and you are good to go. But remember to not work from the bed, it is very easy to fall asleep and more importantly, all that slouching is really bad for your back. If you need to request equipment that is necessary for you to work, plan and request ahead.
The most important enabler in today’s time is technology. Ensure you have internet-connectivity that lets you work in peace, attend meetings and communicate successfully.
Custom Status on Slack or other messaging tools
Share your work timings and update status for when you are available at work, in meetings, away from keyboard (AFK) or on vacation. This will let your team members know that you’re available, in a meeting or will be slow to respond.
Keep calendars updated to avoid going back-and-forth for scheduling meetings. Send calendar invites with meeting links for Google Hangout, WebEx or whatever else you use. Make sure all the information is in there to make it easy for team members to join in the meeting and be productive.
Document, then document some more
Keep notes on everything you are doing. When working remotely, it is easy to lose the tribal knowledge you have gathered. Keep it safe, this knowledge can be useful to others — it can solve problems, help others avoid the same mistakes and be helpful in general.
Step #4. Setup a strategic plan for team productivity
Prepare for a collaborative teamwork environment.
Establish Clear Goals
Formulate goals that are clear, and define expectations from the beginning. At Fynd we go through an extensive process of creating wider company’s goals that are then broken down into team-wise goals. These are called OKRs. Through this exercise, we understand that we all are going in the same direction and that is an important harmoniser that keeps us motivated.
Goals should define expectations and team members responsibilities:
- Create a clear objective for your teams.
- Note down the key results you want to see.
- Add the metric that will be the standard to measure results.
- Assign tasks to team members.
- Track the progress and output.
Have regular meetings — Stand-up, Huddle, Weekly, take your pick. Meetings are important to build trust and transparency. Make it a practice that all team members provide regular updates in some form. It is good to link the “work” to show progress and have discussions about issues or tasks they need help with.
- Avoid impromptu meetings and setup a calendar invite with meeting links for people to join on call. Mark team members that are required and optional.
- Set a clear agenda ahead of the meeting, and during the meeting create action items, assign owners and deadlines.
- Ask explicit questions, such as “Is there something relevant that we are missing?.”
- Do not leave decisions to the last minute. If you require feedback or inputs from team members, discuss those in your meetings and setup an action item. Project teams can setup a task list for effective collaborations.
- Spend some time talking about non-work topics. Your teams are used to meeting each other every day. Setup some time at the end of meeting for social interaction to lighten the mood and keep the chatter going.
Remote work does not mean you lose the momentum you were building when your teams were working together at the office. Check on your OKR’s regularly and stay on top of them. Communicate any blockers ASAP to avoid wasting valuable time and effort.
Communicate results and celebrate success
Communicate results to team members so that everyone is aware of what you are working on, task progress and areas of improvement. Share product updates, failures and other details in your communication tool. We use Slack. The thumbs-up emoji reaction is an instant boost of morale for us. Recognise excellent work and find ways to celebrate together.
To keep the conversations flowing and have fun together, we have come up with a few ideas to spruce up work in the coming weeks:
- Meme challenge. Team members post a meme on our social channel on Slack, #socialappa.
- Blog challenge. A fun way to share and inspire. People can come up with any topic related to Fynd. The best blogs will be published on Building Fynd.
- Home-office photos to show how we “really” work, when at home. Required to be in the picture: workstation. Good to have: cats, books and babies.
- Company-wide directory: A way to connect team members directly to people and other necessary information they need.
Step #5. Appraise the remote work experience
Working remotely might not come naturally to all. Begin a conversation on how your team members feel about working remotely. Ask meaningful questions that help you understand their experience.
- Are you comfortable working from home?
- How can I support you?
- Do you feel productivity has changed?
Finally, it is you who knows your team best. Depend on your understanding of your culture to ease into the action plan. Some actions are easy to implement, others take more effort and time but will help build stronger, resilient teams that work together and move forward — wherever they are.
[This post first appeared on Medium and has been reproduced with permission.]