Anne Frantsi // March 20 2020

Making the best out of the situation – How we do remote work

At the moment we have a huge amount of Digitalist offices around the globe when almost all of us are working remotely from home. This may feel like a challenge to many companies but actually the move from the common office to all these satellite offices have been quite smooth. I even heard someone say that now that we all are working remotely, communications is better than normally. How did we make the transition and how can this even be possible?

Creating an environment that is remote-work friendly

A prerequisite for success is of course to have the right tools in place for remote work. Being an international company with many of us working with customers and sometimes at customer premises, remote work is not new to us. We all have laptops and we are used to attending meetings online. We also use Slack on a daily basis to communicate with each other, so everyone will anyway get the same information independent of where they are.

Another way of making remote work functional is sharing tips. We have shared some guidelines to everyone on how to keep things up and running at home. In these instructions we for example encourage everyone to:

  • Pick anything they need from the office, like monitors, chairs, headsets etc.
  • Get up in time, get dressed and start working as you would if you would come at the office
  • Maybe take a walk in the morning to simulate the commute
  • Remember to take brakes like you do at the office

Since schools are now closed and everyone who can is encouraged to keep their kids home from daycare we have also extended our flexi time. This allows people to divide their working hours between 6am and 10pm in a way that works best for them. If both parents are home, they can for example take turns in working and taking care of the kids by working during more unusual hours.

Nurturing the company culture and teamwork

Making the environment as friendly as possible for remote work is one thing but how do you keep up the spirit and nurture the workplace culture when everyone is physically separated? Luckily there are a lot of tools that allow you to keep in touch through chats or video calls. These tools have now become our virtual office where we communicate and socialize.

To keep us all up to date and maintain the fellowship we have set up a virtual monday morning breakfast. Usually we enjoy a breakfast together at the office every Monday, from now on all of us are joining a video call to hear the latest, share updates and have a place to meet, even when it’s virtually. We will also have a common virtual coffee break on Friday afternoons.

All teams are encouraged to have regular video meetings to keep everyone updated and share what’s going on, find out if someone needs help and overall make sure that no one feels left alone at their home office. In all video calls we ask people to have their cameras on so that we can see each other and at least get a slight feeling of being together.

Another excellent way of keeping up constant communication is a slack channel that we use for updating everyone on what we are working on, on a daily basis. Each morning everyone shortly writes what’s on their agenda for the day. This has made the work that we do so much more transparent and I think it really promotes collaboration. When we are all physically sitting together in the same office, we take for granted many things, one of them being assuming that we know what colleagues are working on, but now everyone knows what the others actually do. This is a great way to avoid doing double work and also to get help and input from colleagues. Someone might have a good idea or input that might be really valuable for you and now it’s easy to help out each other.

In the office we usually have some coffee break activities like jigsaw puzzles, foosball table and billiard, but now we released a daily Slack challenge instead. Let’s see who can build the best toilet paper fort! 

So all in all, even though we are experiencing completely unforeseen circumstances and all of this is generating a lot of trouble, it is a great way to remind us about something we have mastered for a long time but maybe taken for granted. One of our values is Power of Collaboration, and now this value is blooming! This newly found reawakening of online collaborating will for sure be useful even after the crisis is over. And of course, at least we all get to spend much more time with our families than ever before, being reminded about the things that really matter, health, love and family.

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