It seems the world transitioned to remote work nearly overnight. Here are the four things we're doing to make working remote a little easier.
While the Ascend team is new to being a fully distributed business for an extended period of time, our employees do have experience working remote. And due to the nature of our business, we already have the tools in place to make going fully distributed a seamless transition. (For example, our work ecosystem already includes video calls, instant messages, knowledge base articles, and project management dashboards, to name a few.)
That said, at the beginning of the week we took a step back to make sure we have the systems and guidelines in place to make this as successful a transition for everyone. We prioritized these four things:
1) Learn from the experts.
If your team is new to working remote, don't try to reinvent the wheel. There is a ton of information online and in the news right now on how to manage. Check out resources from monday.com, Help Scout, LinkedIn and HubSpot for more. You can also search for guides and tips specific to your industry.
2) Set your team up for success.
Now, this one can be tricky. If you're in a decision-making position, you need to lead the way for your team right now. They want guidance.
Create a guidelines and protocols document. This doesn't have to be more than a couple pages. Be sure to address:
- Standard work hours and expectations
- How the team should communicate and expected response times (more on that later)
- What equipment to use and/or bring home from the office for an extended period of time
- When regular check-ins will happen
- If you work with clients, how that communication will be handled
- Anything else that is specific to your team or the kind of work you perform
3) Make communication a priority.
These days, we'll miss the water cooler chats and office pop-ins. There's really no such thing as over-communicating right now. Be friendly, but don't hesitate to remind your team members of upcoming deadlines, any pending item(s) you need from them to continue on with a project, or any changes that may come up.
For your team's daily stand up, keep it short and simple. Each person should review:
- Noteworthy items they've accomplished in the past 24-48 hours
- What they've prioritized and are working on in the next 24-48 hours
- Any items they need from a fellow team member to continue on with an assignment
Don't rely only on email. Would you have stopped by a coworker's desk to check on something? Try instant message or a quick call.
Be responsive. It's understandable you may not be able to get to something right away. However, you can send a short reply, let the coworker (or client) know you've received their request, and offer an expected turnaround time. Those kind of notes can go a long way when working on a distributed team.
All in all, your work doesn't need reinventing. Your team should continue to use the processes you have in place, they may just need a little tweaking for the time being. And you just may need to be a little more responsive and over communicative than in the past.
4) Take your home set up seriously.
Most of us working from home will be doing so for the foreseeable future. Just working with your laptop on the couch is, quite frankly, not the most comfortable (or productive) option.
If at all possible, take these steps to make working remote a better experience for you, your team members, and your family:
- Work in a dedicated area. You might not have a home office, but try to find another table or area you can make your own for the foreseeable future. Also, as much as this space can be distanced from the main living area of your abode, the better.
- Don't forego ergonomics! Try for a laptop riser, separate keyboard and mouse, and sturdy chair. It will make a world of a difference over time.
- Be prepared to share your video during meetings. Before your first video meeting, fire up your webcam and see how your background looks. Is it presentable? Make adjustments accordingly.
- Maintain a routine. Continue to complete your work during work hours and treat your home set up just as you would time in the office. This means no extra loads of laundry, TV during lunch, or tidying around the house. Goes without saying, but you should also shower regularly and get dressed! If you wouldn't wear your PJs to the office, don't wear them while you work from home. This approach will help you stay healthy, rested, and avoid potential burnout. In short, if you wouldn't do it at the office, don't do it at home. It's as simple as that.
For more on working remote, check out this week's bonus episode of The Basecamp. We talk with Marc Herschberger of Revenue River about how each of our teams manage and thrive when working from home.
We'd love to hear from you in the comments – what about working from home has been a success? Where are you looking to improve? What would you tell someone working this way for the first time in their career?