How to build an efficient and connected team when working remotely
Many studies show that working from home has a lot of benefits: besides the obvious one of staying safe during a pandemic, the home office also eliminates or decreases the need for daily commuting and can even push productivity.
However, it is important to understand that if a remote work setup is not planned properly, these benefits can come at a cost because of their impact on:
- work-life balance,
- communication and collaboration,
- overall morale and company culture.
Here are some clear and concise tips for remote workers from Deloitte:
- Designate a workspace for focus in your home
- Develop a daily routine
- Embrace technology tools for collaboration
- Communication frequently with your team
- Remain contactable as much as possible during work hours
- Do not over-rely on email/IM - Use phone/VC
- Block your calendar for work and break times
- Dedicate time for informal social interactions
- Regularly review your performance with your manager
- Don't be afraid to switch off at the end of the day
Expanding Our Culture Code
Challenging time are prime occasions to review and rethink existing policies and procedures. From a leadership perspective, we have decided to do exactly that at Flawless to stay connected as a team, maintain productivity, and focus on our team's mental health and well-being to make sure we will not get burnt out.
Working from home had already been a part of our company culture for quite a while and we reaped the benefits once the pandemic hit. We were able to transition to working from home and – in fall – slowly pivot back to staggered work models in office relatively easily and efficiently.
- Tools for virtual meetings, both internally and with clients
- IM for faster communication
- Time and project management tools to stay organized
- Digital File Sharing tools
- Company-issued devices (laptops and monitors)
To stay connected, we devised a plan that focused on internal communication and paid special attention to regular touch points across all company tiers: pods, teams, job roles, management, and company-wide. Here's what it looked like in practice:
- From Day 1 of the lockdown, every week we gathered for an hour-long, companywide Zoom meeting to share our news and stay socially connected.
- Our Party Committee scheduled celebrations for important events, including birthdays and work anniversary.
- The Party Committee also organized virtual group and team building activities, from online game tournaments, a virtual Thanksgiving gathering & specially made cookbook, to a pumpkin carving contest.
Of course, we also wanted to support the entire team in delivering high quality results to our clients and communities. To that end, we adapted the following policies:
- Daily team meetings, checkpoints, and huddles.
- Our work lives and thrives on our IM platform. We have a channel for everything: work, fun, news – you name it! It is a great tool for quick messages, notes, or questions and helps us stay connected at a distance.
- We encourage the use of video conferencing tools whenever more collaboration and clarity is needed.
- Reaching out by phone, especially to clients, will always be important: we can’t depend on emails alone when time is our enemy.
- The use of Calendar and project/time management is very important especially while working from home, it gave the day some structure.
- Keeping a daily routine can help with the overwhelming or helplessness sense when you are working from home.
After more than half a year of mostly working from home, we have developed routines of our own. Some of them are small, but they help us on a day-to-day basis.
- Check in at the beginning of the day, we say good morning to our team on the general channel (often with memes).
- Home Office Dress Code: get out of your pajamas, and into professional yet comfortable clothes.
- Take virtual breaks/lunch with your team if possible.
- Make sure to check off your finished tasks.
- And check out at the end of the day (more memes).
- It is recommended to book your vacation, even if it is staycation.
- It is ok to ask for sick day whenever you can’t work.
- We encourage open conversations with other team members and management.
Change is a Part of It
From the beginning of the lockdown – and counting – we made sure to communicate changes and plans to the team in a clear and timely manner, and keep everyone engaged in the decision making process as much as possible.
As a business supporting other businesses, change management is our bread and butter, but it requires an extra portion of will-power, strategic thinking, and calmness to navigate through a time like this.
Our recipe? Acknowledging that we're all human and that we're all in this situation of uncertainty together. A crisis has the potential to shake things up, and with the right approach and mindset, that can be a good thing.