A few years ago, working from home was a laughable concept for most companies. However, almost a month into the pandemic businesses are slowly transitioning their workforce to work from their homes.
At COdesign, a digital marketing agency based in Bangladesh, the shift to Work From Home began early February giving them a headstart when it came to adjusting to a new culture.
Here’s what we can learn from COdesign’s work from home culture and daily work routine.
1. Make sure you have the right software
Communications is the foundation of functioning work culture. The greatest challenge your team will face in these trying times is those of how to communicate effectively, especially with large teams. Thankfully, services like Zoom and Google Hangouts have announced that all premier features (that paid users have access to) will be made open for the public. Choose an either tool for office meetings or one on one conversations.
Communications is at the heart of our work culture. The greatest challenge we faced initially, was establishing communication channels. It was especially difficult with bigger teams. Eventually, though, services like Zoom and Google Hangouts played a huge part in the daily meetings with clients and internal teams.
Note that Zoom and Hangouts both have been made free during the Covid-19 quarantine period. Also, feel free to see Slack and Microsoft teams for professional chat software.
A lot of organizations prefer the use of pen drives over cloud services. It is understandable that new technologies can be terrifying. But if there ever was any time to adopt cloud storage, now is the team. Since the lockdown, we have been openly collaborating with shared files on Google docs which allow multiple authors to work on a single file simultaneously.
Sharing files will be much easier as well since all changes made on the drive are updated in real-time.
All good companies have their processes thoroughly documented. Start from organizing your task list, essentially dividing large tasks into smaller jobs before you assign them on to your team members. Project management tools help a lot in this process.
You can use tools like Asana, Monday.com, and Trello for your project management needs and use them to remotely keep track of the work in your company.
2. Define a work process and ground rules
Define the rules of engagement
It is difficult to translate your office culture into a remote setting. This is why it is important to discuss ground rules and work processes. Create a list of processes that can not easily be imitated in a remote setting. Discuss with your team, how to substitute those processes.
Ideally, you can start with:
- Set up a time for teams to meet up (for teleconferences).
- Assign tasks to individuals and teams separately.
- Note down tasks in your project management tool.
- Break down tasks into smaller tasks that can be finished within hours or a day.
- Set up deadlines.
- Move all-important local files into the cloud.
- Use chat tools like slack for a quick one to one communication and file sharing.
Fewer Meetings more Emails
Can we all agree that most meetings are a waste of time? Thank you. It is true that most meetings can be completed through a simple email. So why not do just that. Keep meetings to a minimum and Emails to a maximum.
Github, with one of the largest work from home programs of any company in the world, swears by their Emails over meetings approach.
Follow Github and only go for meetings when an Email just won’t suffice.
3. Ensure Employees maintain accountability
Despite the work from the home mandate, companies and employees must still deliver. Your clients are still expecting to get deliveries on time and there is no room for slacking. Keep your employees just as accountable in a remote setting.
Make sure that you’ve doubled down on your processes and have your task lists prepared in advance. All tasks are assigned with their due deadlines and alerts are set in place a day before submission. Expect your employees to report on these tasks after completion with tangible results.
Additionally, it is advisable that you keep trust in your employees and allow them to focus on results rather than formalities. Don’t be the big brother employer who spies on their employees. This is a sure-fire way to break trust and create a demoralized workforce. Instead, ensure that work is regularly scheduled and updated on the project management software.
If you’ve set up your project management tools properly and assigned tasks in order, you should be able to see progress in real-time at the end of the day. In a remote environment, your employees should be trusted to show their work within the deadlines and milestones set by you or the management.
4. Trust your employees
This is a fact that holds true to both office and remote employees. Have faith in the people you hire.
In a more flexible environment such as one’s home, the responsibility is on the employee to complete his duties. We must accept that a lot of things are out of our control and that’s okay. Some employees will fall asleep in the middle of the afternoon, others will take a long lunch break. But as you transition into this new normal, we need to stop worrying about these things and adopt a new mindset.
Like the times they are changing, we not only shift our workforce from one place to another, we are shifting an entire culture. One by one, every office in every corner of the world. It’s gonna be a painful process but ultimately, all worth it in the end.