Today in France, it was announced the nationwide lockdown because of COVID-19, and it is also the first day in which almost the entire world works remotely at the same time. Your team used to work in an office, and out of a sudden, they have to work from home. You need to develop new habits, accept the new reality.
Here are a few things you can do today for a better new working life:
#1. Open the communication channels. While we were communicating before, we do not have the reflex of writing an email for just sharing some simple information. That is why it is essential to create channels where people can communicate
- Communicate generic information — like good morning, tips and tricks of good food delivery companies, news about the security measures taken by the government, etc
Pick the chat tool of your choice. I recommend you continue using your usual chat that everyone used before. Today you have a big selection from Slack, Skype, Microsoft Teams, Google Hangouts, etc. Inside any of these tools, you create a Generic channel. It is critical to have only one tool to make it easier for everyone to be there.
How to create a channel on Slack? It is the default public channel that it is available when you create Slack. Make sure you do not have clients or people outside your team that you do not want to be part of the general discussions.
How to create a channel on Skype? Unfortunately, Skype doesn’t have the notion of private channels, but of groups. The downside of it is that if you are using Skype Enterprise, it doesn’t keep the history, and you must recreate the channel. Create a group > right-click > send an instant message to all.
How to create a channel in Microsoft Teams? In your team, click on the …> More options > Add channel. Make sure you select Private — Accessible only to a specific group of people within the team.
How to create a channel in Google Hangouts? Click New conversation > New group.
- Communicate information on a specific topic.
Following the same steps as above, but instead of having a channel open for everyone, you’ll select only the people who are interested in that particular topic. For example, the Scrum Masters will have different conversations than DevOps experts. These channels shouldn’t be open for everyone for several reasons: to don’t overflood people with the information they need, to don’t distract them for what is essential, to make sure the right information gets to the right people. You want to don’t overwhelm people, but to communicate.
- Communicate private information inside the team. Building trust online is hard. It is effortless to copy/paste or for someone to read the wrong thing. People will be open if they feel safe
From experience, I can tell you that building trust remotely is more difficult than in real life. Today you add the social pressure that will grow because we are locked in our homes. It makes it essential that the digital communication means are of trust. Teams must know they have their privacy, and they digital conform zone.
- Work together in a virtual room to make you and your colleagues feel they are part of the team, see where are the other people. Everyone must know they aren’t alone, how to access any information before even knowing about it.
People are made to live in societies, but during a lockdown for COVID-19, everyone needs to keep the social distance. In these circumstances, today, I have seen that people feel the need to be together with their colleagues.
Software like Sococo provides virtual rooms to remote teams. It works as a virtual office, with multiple offices, meeting rooms, casual places, and numerous office configurations. It allows the team members to know where the others are, to make it more interactive, even being remote. It shows there are many people in the team working at the same time. It builds motivation and energy in the team.
Today my colleagues were using it successfully. They were connected with their headphones and microphones on in the same meeting room without saying anything. They were working in silence and listening to music in the background.
You might also use simple Skype calls for each team, zoom meetings, or any other software. Discord is also excellent software and is popular among gamers. Do not hesitate to introduce to your team any software you or your colleagues want to try.
#2. Call and even better video calls to people instead of writing. Being stuck at home because the world is under lockdown due to a pandemic is different than being a digital nomad and working from the beach. Agree with your colleagues to be more open to interruptions or instant calls. Agree with your colleagues that you don’t need to set a meeting in your calendar just to ask something. I guarantee you this will make your teamwork better.
#3. Keep things neat and up to date. If before your verbal communication could replace some information, now it is essential to keep the tools up to date. You might have had your Scrum Board in office, but now it’s time to be disciplined and keep it up to that in your project management software. This simple habit will make it easier to communicate with each other, know at any given time where to find the information, and clear communication.
#4. Use this opportunity as a unique opportunity to get to know your colleagues beyond the office life. Before being colleagues and professionals, we are humans. It might be the perfect time to build lifelong friendships. It will help you to help each other, work together to achieve professional goals as never before.
#5. Be understanding. We live times like no others. A full family working from home is not comfortable. You’ll hear children, pets, the partner. Try to be considerate of your colleagues. If a colleague needs to step out for a moment because his/her child is crying, be flexible. Knowing each other’s lives will help you to learn your habits and to adjust easier. For example, you might have colleagues with small children who need to do a siesta from 2–4 PM. You might try to avoid the long calls during that time, but use it to allow your colleague to work on something that requires no interruptions.
What are your tips to better work together remotely?