COVID-19 is changing the daily routines for millions of people around the world and working habits are no exception. With more and more people staying safe through self-quarantine and social distancing, remote working has evolved from something that some companies offer to allow for a little bit more quality of life, to almost a requirement in many cases.
While this is something we see happening frequently and seamlessly for hundreds of startups in every country, some companies struggle to implement it, often due to the nature of their business or how traditional their industry or staff is. To help shed some light on how to go remote (for yourself and others), we’ve created a small guide that approaches some of the less-discussed aspects of remote working.
Efficient communication as the foundation for efficient work.
You and your team are working remotely now.
While this completely changes the way you communicate, that can be an excellent opportunity to improve some of the things your company already does. Here, technology is your best ally and there are dozens of apps that can keep your team connected. Organising communication between team members can start on some basic but fundamental principles.
Assuming your team isn’t fully autonomous and does not yet have a group of digital internal procedures in place to schedule tasks and report metrics or results, you can start by creating message, task and reporting boards to allow everyone to see what needs to be done, who’s assigned to what and how or when the results need to be reported.
This, of course, needs everyone’s cooperation to work and expediting tasks or requests with a simple “You got it!”, rather than leaving it on “Seen” can make a difference in giving everyone the peace of mind they crave while working from home.
Even if you don’t have to report everything that you’re doing, using task managers to open every new task you start and close the ones you just finished, keeps everyone in the loop and informed well enough to make their own decisions. It’s not about control. It’s about keeping the same work relation you have with your team every day.
Routines, routines oh, and have we mentioned it? Routines!
You’ve heard it all before in countless how-to-remote-work articles but even if it isn’t the main focus of this article, we can’t stop reiterating how important it is. Spending most of your time at home doesn’t mean your usual routines aren’t valid anymore. In fact, dressing up for work as you would normally, having your meals at the same times, your meetings (now video conferences) at the same time or even your breaks are important to keep all those glimpses of daily life that keep the productivity of you and your team intact.
Remote working shouldn’t pose any more of a threat to your lifestyle than a rainy day and this includes some of your social interactions. If we’re being completely honest, you can even mimic that feeling of being abruptly interrupted right when you’re trying to work by keeping yourself available in open video or voice channels!
Remember why you’re at home.
Many companies are now allowing their staff to work from home. Whether this is due to a flexible working policy, a way to increase the range of its recruitment strategy or, like the times we’re currently living in, due to a virus outbreak, always remember why you and your team are working from home.
While this might sound redundant, the fact is, unless you’re in a fully remote position, understanding the reason you’re remote and the implications it brings to your daily routine will give you the reference you need to increase your overall productivity.
You might be working from home because you need to pick up your kids from school at 11 AM or because the virus outbreak means that the shops in your area are working limited access and you need to adapt to their schedules. In either case, dividing the day in “blocks of time” and allowing yourself the breaks you need in order to accomplish whatever you set yourself to do will maximise your efficiency in all areas – regardless of whether it’s sending emails or topping up your cupboards for your self-imposed quarantine.
Enforced remote working still imposes on your accessibility to people, resources and in-person communication and getting the most out of it can be done by committing to what you’re doing, whether it’s your work or your life outside of it.
Plan your day. Plan what you want to achieve. Plan how to report it.
While overall planning comes in last, it’s certainly not the least important item on this list. With remote working, the place you rest is now also the place you work at and this will inevitably result in both things converging into a new one that is… well, neither one nor the other. This also poses a new challenge if you’re a manager in the sense that now you have to keep your team’s productivity up entirely online and you’re up against a place that is usually associated to rest, family and yelling at the TV after losing online on FIFA.
While there’s no silver bullet, the best course of action here is to plan your day.
It’s all about having the vision to understand what your hour, your day and your week are going to look like. Yes, FIFA is right there, your kids are playing in the yard, your spouse is a few meters away for a quick chat (add a virus outbreak to it and all 3 of them are happening at the same time!) so productivity will drop. However, allowing yourself the space at the start of the day to tell yourself what you want to do and visualise how you want to achieve will be a great aid in helping you deliver.
If you want to go a step further and add some self-discipline to the mix, estimate your results and add a block of time to report to your manager or to evaluate your team.
At Infraspeak, we’ve been fully remote from the moment the outbreak reached our headquarters, an effort shared by a number of Portuguese startups.
For some companies, this is hardly a new trend — GitLab, the world’s largest all-remote company with team members in 65 different countries sees remote working not as a challenge, but a distinct business opportunity.
From their Remote Manifest, you find advantages such as your run-of-the-mill schedule flexibility, international recruitment and easier accessibility all the way to specific communication optimisations. The chance to establish formal communication channels, being able to log or record knowledge rather than sharing it verbally or even asynchronous communication over synchronous as a shot at greater efficiency are just some of the opportunities lying within the depths of this still unexplored remote working jungle.
At the end of the day, remote working, just like any type of work, is just another way to find out a better method to produce results and deliver actionable projects or ideas. With each passing day, more opportunities for remote working arise in several different industries, from traditional to innovative ones.
With everyone’s collaboration and the space to find out what works for you and your team, working remotely can become no different than hearing that “beep” when you validate your metrocard on the way to work.