Working from home due to Covid-19 restrictions is now a reality for the majority of us. Some companies might have trialled this or had some remote elements to their teams but a lot of businesses this is new territory.
The truth is that we don’t know how long we’re going to be here for, (it could be a while!) so it’s important to bed in and make remote working work for you. We at Scurri have been remote for a few weeks now and wanted to share some of our tips for working from home.
Use your tools of communication
It’s always true that communication is the most important thing in a business, this becomes so much more true when working remotely. It seems like it takes a good deal of extra effort but it’s so worth it to keep everyone focused and on the same page.
First of all, you need your tools of communication for your various processes in place. Luckily, there are so many available now this shouldn’t be an issue. This great graphic from Stack overflow below illustrates the ways you can use combinations of tools for effective collaboration.
Once the right tools are in place, it’s a great rule of thumb to assume that you cannot overcommunicate, so share information and achievements, broadcast company updates and invite as much collaboration as possible is the advice.
At Scurri, we’ve been impressed with how well our daily/weekly structure we already had in place transposed to being entirely online. That is, we retained the same the sequence of meetings and the same days for reports etc.
Over the last few years we’ve worked successfully at integrating our remote working team with our core office team, so now instead of connecting the office to the remotes, we are all dialling in as remotes and connecting to each other with not that much difference.
Because we didn’t overhaul our established structure there were no disruptions or confusion to how we operate. So it’s recommended to try to keep things normal as possible in the abnormal situation. If there isn’t a clear structure already in place, it’s important to implement one as soon as possible and ensure everyone knows what it is. If communicated properly this can help settle everyone into the WFH pattern sooner rather than later and help set clear expectations for everyone.
Here are some examples from Scurri (using video conferencing) that we find work really well for us:
- Daily stand-ups – 15 min team meetings 1st thing in the morning. We use these for individual teams to check in with each other and collaborate, help remove any blockers and align to achieving team objectives.
- Planning & Retrospectives – These are highly structured meetings at the beginning and end of each week respectively. Depts use Planning to breaks down weekly objectives into priorities and how best to achieve them. And Retrospectives to look back on the week at what worked well and what we can be improved on which is taken forward to the next Planning session. This creates a constant cycle of incremental improvement.
- Daily Briefings – This is a new measure we have introduced as Covid-19 is a new and rapidly changing factor in our daily lives and in business. The CEO hosts a 10min daily briefing to the whole company, which includes updates from The Scurri Business Continuity Team and relevant Covid-19 news. This quick and simple measure helps all staff stay on the same page and saves second-guessing.
We really encourage companies to share the achievements of individuals and successes of depts in real-time with the wider business. This helps all staff feel involved and all good news is welcome in times like this.
We use an announcements channel on Slack to share things like
- Positive feedback we get from happy Scurri customers.
- Announcing new customers going live on the Scurri platform
- Good news about our customers’ successes.
- Shoutouts to colleagues, work-related or otherwise. For instance, someone has taken part in charity work etc.
- We also share productivity tips and other helpful solutions that can help people continue to streamline their day.
Company Culture - It’s not all serious
This is week three for Scurri working remotely and so far we’re proud to say that the company culture is very much holding up. Company culture is not something that happens by accident and at Scurri we consciously cultivate a culture that is customer-centric, lean and high performing but with plenty of room fun.
I’m sure many of you are missing casual office interactions, we are too and although we can’t have ‘watercooler chats’ we are using tools like Slack & Zoom to recreate our office vibe.
- The Starbar – Every Friday someone in Scurri is awarded a Starbar, y’know, for being ‘an absolute starbar’! In the office, this was an actual chocolate bar, since working remotely this is now a symbolic award. The rule of the Starbar is that whomsoever is awarded the Starbar gets to choose the following week who earns the illustrious prize and must give the reasons why. This can range from going above and beyond in their role, writing some amazing code, solving a problem or it could just be for organising
- Virtual coffee breaks – We can’t meet in the canteen but we can meet on zoom for coffee breaks. We make the effort to join each other online for non-work related chat, make each other laugh and look at each other’s pets!
It’s important for companies to do what they can to prevent workers from feeling isolated during this period of isolation. Loneliness has been identified as a common risk for remote workers so don’t underestimate the power of laughter and inclusion.
So far we’ve focused on things we recommend on a company level but what advice can we give individual workers at home?
- Face to face – It’s tempting to keep your camera off during video meetings but this is the closest you’ll get to face to face for a while. Not only does this help prevent feelings of isolation and disconnectedness it’s also better for communication. It’s easy to forget how much communication is done through body language!
- Have a designated workspace – have a workspace (that isn’t your bed) is highly recommended, somewhere you can sit properly to prevent back pain and that you can walk away from for breaks and in the evening. I hide my laptop in the cupboard in the evenings so it doesn’t taunt me!
- Get dressed – Working in your PJs is the dream but dressing for the office is another good mental trick for turning your brain towards work mode, you can always change into you joggers after work when you’re in unwind mode.
- Keep talking – Let someone know if you are stress or having difficulties, lean on and check in on your co-workers. It’s good to acknowledge that this is a stressful time for people.
- Transitioning from work to home – Apart from changing clothes and location, (within your house) it’s good to find a ritual that works for you to switch off from work. It’s great to be productive and conscientious but once work is done let it go. Walk home from work by going for a walk around the block (maintaining social distancing) to have a separation between work and home and get some fresh air and exercise. Find something fun and good for your wellbeing to do in the evenings and on weekends.