Here at FanFoundry, we support multiple clients, each with their own “tech stack” of technologies and tools. This means we have become quite adept at working in multiple remote office environments as a side benefit of working with global clients.
What have we learned? Lots. Here are a few considerations for helping remote workers succeed, followed by a few resource links. Enjoy!
Working from Home Has its Drawbacks (Safety, Creativity)
As many large organizations have discovered, remote work may seem financially wise for all concerned, but it overlooks the importance of a group environment’s conditions of “psychological safety“. Similarly, the lack of interaction can dampen creativity. Creative sparks fly during playful banter. Creativity doesn’t happen on a schedule; it happens through random, free associations during human interaction. So, you can’t schedule a creativity session with a remote team. This has implications for how each of us implements a remote work environment.
Moving your team meetings online often involves compromise. Routine office schedules may need to be adjusted to accommodate remote workers’ competing priorities: parenting and family roles, privacy, internet connection speed, other interruptions. Involve the team in discussing, and be flexible.
Cadence of Contact
You may need to replace the office environment’s casual cross-talk and breakroom conversations with a more frequent, formal check-in schedule at first. Monthly meetings may have to be bolstered with weekly check-ins, for example. Over time, your team can discover and settle on a suitable cadence of meetings and check-ins. Be sensitive to people’s questions and needs at the outset, and involve everyone in decisions on any needed changes.
Consistency Has its Place
Consider, too, continuing some of your work environment’s customs, habits and benefits, such as observing breaks and lunches. Dining “al desko” is now tres passe.
Web Conferencing Etiquette
Not everyone is adept at online meetings. Help people get accustomed by practicing on yourselves. Do a few “dry runs” and embrace the humor of people talking over one another, accidentally interrupting, and being out of focus or backlit on camera. You will need to identify a resource person to help your team learn to fully use all the features of online conferencing tools, such as “raising your hand” when seeking to contribute to the discussion, versus talking over one another. At the end of this article you’ll find a few recommended resources for further reading and ideas.
Office Tech: Get it Right and Tight
Selecting collaboration tools is now a priority. Prepare to experiment. Poll your team to see what they know and use now. Prepare to evaluate some tools that can greatly help collaboration, and possibly even improve on the current status. Below we’ve listed some of the most popular conferencing tools. More are coming online daily, it seems.
Just…don’t. Don’t overload everyone’s inbox with a new email thread every day. Email is the least effective way for your team to collaborate. It’s at best a nuisance and at worst an exercise in futility. All those forwards, reply-alls, nested comment threads, dropped attachments, etc. Instead, evaluate and select a robust, proven messaging platform. In addition to daily messaging, here are some other types of tools that can make working remotely a real boost for everyone.
- Messaging Tools
- Project Management
- Document Storage Tools
Google Calendar for Business
- Video-conferencing Tools
Over to You
How’s it going with the transition to a virtual work environment? Do you have any humorous or insightful stories to share? Join us on Twitter @fanfoundry, hashtag: #officetech . Let’s all help one another. Thanks for reading.
Improve Your Online Meeting Etiquette (VAST Conference)
How to Transition from an Office Based Company (Remoters.com)
Host a Virtual Conference: 10 Tips for Success (Learning Revolution)
The Coronavirus is Creating a Huge Stressful Experiment … (The Atlantic)
…more to come. Feel free to recommend a resource.