Due to the corona situation, many companies are forced to find a solution for how to switch their work to “remote work” as quickly as possible.
In our agency we have been working “remotely” for three years – regardless of location. The original reason for this was simple: In this way, when recruiting working partners and team members, I was able to concentrate entirely on who made the best contribution and less on who would be available here in a small town south of Munich. In the meantime, customers are also happy that they have the choice to keep it purely digital. In the last 3 years we have tried a lot ourselves and discarded a lot.
Here is the essence of our knowledge, so that you can quickly implement a change that may be necessary due to the coronavirus situation.
Ok, Maybe or probably even a week won’t be enough. What we can promise: It will pay off. If you successfully implement this type of work in your organization, it will give you significantly more freedom of action and productivity – and this will continue well after the corona virus situation.
Step 1: Provide the Right Tools
The right tools are required to work remotely. Even if the list below is so tidy and logical … to get there we tried a lot and rejected it. At the same time, here’s the good news: Over the past 3-5 years, the range of software that makes remote work easier has improved dramatically. All of the tools recommended here are really user-friendly.
You should be able to set up the following setup here with existing laptops for everyone involved and a less understanding of technology for a team of up to 12 people within one day.
Tip: If there are more teams / people, the best thing to do is to appoint a main representative, who will create the software for the company and a ‘bridgehead’ in the team, who will integrate their own team there.
Start by setting up the following remote work tools
- ASANA is the basis for project planning and management of tasks in a team and with customers . Alternatively (if your projects are not as complex or generally more fluid), TRELLO also works very well.
- Slack is essential for everyday communication . Here, short, fast, detailed things are quickly exchanged in different ‘channels’. Screenshots make it easier to show what it’s about. Practical: Both Asana and Trello can be linked directly with Slack – this way you can see new and completed tasks in Slack.
- Direct communication is still very important and with ZOOM you are finally the nonoptimal fumbling with Skype (with horror I think of Europe-wide team calls back around the year 2010 “wait, Marc fell out again”). With Zoom you see yourself ‘as normal’, can share the screen, even use whiteboard and comment functions. Using Zoom has significantly improved our exchange in the team and with our customers.
- In our experience, content work works best in Google Drive . With their revision and comment functions, the Docs and Sheets are perfect for coordinating complex documents well in a team remotely without going insane. And even people of the older generation of work / little digital experience can handle it well.
- It is often helpful to be able to show what you are talking about. A small fine tool makes it very pleasant to take and comment on screenshots: Lightshot .
Most of the tools such as Asana, GDocs, Slack now also work excellently in the mobile versions, so that you can also take a quick look on the go / what is locked in place.
=> So you would have to be well positioned to work remotely from the tech side.
Step 2: How to Brief Your Team on Day 1 on Remote Work
If your team has never worked remotely before, it will of course have to change first. I would give the following points to such a team:
“We will have to communicate more attentively and in a disciplined manner”
In fact, the biggest challenge is not so much using the tools, but the level of communication skills that it requires. Communication that is remote AND asynchronous (the other reads / responds later) requires either clairvoyant skills … 😉or very reflective communication.
In the office, the sentence that is thrown quickly may be sufficient, because the other person then asks directly and receives the missing information directly. But in case of doubt, the other person is also interrupted in his work, which is at the expense of productivity.
Rough checklist, e.g. for an inquiry to a colleague on Slack:
- Providing context – what is it about?
- What do I want from others – and why?
- What does he need to know to help me?
- How urgent is it? For what? Or can it wait? By when?
“If it gets more complicated, speak directly”
Rough basic rule: The more concrete, simpler the things to be clarified, the easier it is to simply chat, the more complex it becomes, the more direct exchange is needed. So you always have to check:
What kind of communication do I have here?
Would you have sat down in the office? Then just do it now – just by zooming.
Conflicts of all kinds are part of complex communication – find the direct dialog as quickly as possible via zoom or telephone and thus avoid unnecessary nerve wars.
Pay attention to who needs information / needs to know something
Who needs to know about the outcome of your meeting? Inform about it via Slack or in Asana / Trello if it is only about a specific task.
Our reward: More focus and calmness when working, significantly higher productivity
A tip for managing remote teams
Remote work is incredibly transparent: Now it shows who contributes which results during the day / over the week.
In leadership, you have to be careful to stay fair or to help classify who is in what type of work process. In the Development work area, for example, it can become very ungrateful if you have just tested 5 different solution approaches, all of which are still not working. It feels stupid anyway – in remote work it is becoming even more obvious that you don’t have a concrete result in your hands at the end of the week. Here it helps enormously if you a) signal that you know how to classify it and b) that you help to structure the work processes so that they can be seen and checked (“Test1: Implemented / Failed / Learnings: .. etc.)
Step 3: How to integrate people into remote work in the next few weeks
Remote and digital or not: We humans remain human, we want to have a chat at the coffee machine and be seen and valued as a human being.
In the meantime, we have solved this primarily:
3 simple measures to integrate more humanity in remote work
- A digital coffee kitchen – with us in Slack a channel called “The Kitchen”. We say hello in the morning and share a funny link or something in between.
- Via Geekbot we have set up status updates (linked to Slack) that not only provide each other with dry information, but also with input on moods and what else is currently occupying or inspiring us.
- The classic old chat. Leave a little time and space for it, get a coffee together. Don’t worry: You can easily get time back in later – it will be good for productivity and problem-solving rates later on. Can be done wonderfully with zoom.
Step 4: As soon as productivity is secured again, adjust more precisely
Of course, every company needs different tools and communication structures. As soon as you have the most necessary process running again in the remote version, keep your eyes open, experiment, and find your own way.
So, we hope that you can start your new phase with Remote Work well, even with an event that is not wanted by coronavirus. The in-depth articles by colleagues (linked above and available here below as a list) accompany you with further details.