Remote Work: It’s a Thing Now

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, each with its own blend of talent,  process and technology.

What have we learned?  Lots. Here are a few considerations for helping remote workers succeed, followed by a few resource links. Enjoy!

Leadership Considerations

Working from Home Has its Drawbacks (Safety, Creativity)

As many organizations have discovered, remote work may seem financially wise, but its very remoteness highlights the often overlooked importance of a work team’s needs for “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.

Scheduling Meetings
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 your entire team in discussing this, 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, office hours, holidays and lunch hours. 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 just about the least effective way for a 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.