Remote working is our new normal. While many have been happily working fully or partially remote for years, for many more this new reality was thrust upon them.
First some perspective. People who work from home are happier. Many employees switch employers to gain this perk.
- No commute. Saves 30-120min/day alone
- Temperate is always right
- Less office distractions
- And now not exposed to coworker’s germs or the public-transit traveler’s germs
Best Practices to Become an Efficient Remote Worker
Work must go on. If you have never worked remotely, it is a new fish-out-of-water experience, as I learned when I started working partially remotely in the 90’s. For new comers to work-from-home, and for managers of remote workers, here are some changes to implement:
- Track output, not hours
- Get super clear on priorities
- Have Teams meet minimum weekly on Zoom
- Set expectations, write it down, and how to complete them
- Document processes to move work forward. E.g. approval process
- Set and track milestones. Make work visible.
- Continue to do postmortems on projects
- Plan communications, don’t use an adhoc approach
- Communicate intentionally. There is no water cooler where you would normally overhear discussions that impact you and/or your project
- Communicate more: Tell people “what” (you’re doing) and “why” (you’re doing it) much more often. Don’t make your team guess.
- Match your Slack channel to the message & purpose of the content you post
- It takes longer to discussion issue via chat. Know when to jump to video call
- If you don’t have dedicated space: ensure your family knows when you’re not available.
Must Have Tools
- Collaboration apps. E.g. Gsuite. I love Google Docs, where multiple people can simultaneously edit the same document
- Must have a team chat tool. E.g. Slack or MS-Teams
- Must have a video conference tool. Zoom is the best!
- Project management app – Github. Non tech projects – Trello (these are recommendations to me, I’ve never personally used)
- Online training
Communicate in Real Time
- Setup channels for projects and company news. It’s hard for news to travel informally otherwise.
- Have key posts consistently labeled “Decisions and To Dos”
How to Run Effective Online Meetings
- Be on camera. We are a social species and it’s more important as we’re not in-person. Otherwise we can’t see facial expressions which is important in human contact. The first times will be awkward. If you’re in an office still, don’t share a laptop. Reasons: 1. social distancing, 2. individual group members are too small.
- If you are not on camera, add an avatar. Nothing worse that seeing screen of black boxes.
- Call out individuals specifically for questions. Calling them out will make them feel part of meeting
- Allow silence
- Be careful what you share on your screen. Easy to share other screens or content on screen they you didn’t expect to. My practice is to close all apps/tabs I won’t need during the video meeting.
- Ask attendees to mute their mic if not speaking
- Use headphones to block out outside noise if you don’t have a quiet zone
Remote Working Etiquettes
- Let your colleagues know if you are not available. e.g. Use Slack’s Do Not Disturb
- You don’t have to respond to chat immediately
- Put your work away when not working
- Recognize that not everyone has dedicated space at home for remote working. During your video call you will see the cat, hear a dog bark, and see someone walk by. No big thing.
- Don’t let go of your company rituals and customs because you’re remote (e.g. send cupcakes on someone’s birthday or have a virtual coffee instead of meeting at the coffee shop)
- If you have an open-door policy, setup Virtual Office Hours (plenty of calendar apps for others to schedule time with you) or leave your Zoom open and your Zoom ID posted.
Once you’re started working from home, you won’t want to give it up totally anymore.
I provide Open Office Hours here.