People have been working in offices as far back as ancient Rome. Professional individual workspaces emerged in the 1600’s-1800’s and the 1900’s saw the birth of open offices. All the knowledge, tools and skills we’ve built up over time, about how to work together, was predicated on us occupying the same space.
In March 2020 all of that was dismantled when most office workers were sent home to work remotely. For business owners and managers this has created a crisis as they are forced to quickly re-orientate themselves in this new landscape to ensure their business continues to operate without sacrificing on productivity and quality.
All is not lost. Whether you call it Remote Working or Working from Home (WFH) (these terms are now used interchangeably), there are many businesses that have built up years and years of experience and skill without having a central office space to work from.
Being one of those businesses, the team at Fluid reached out to clients and colleagues to get some of their best perspectives on how to best adapt to this new way of working that has been forced on you.
As in the ‘good old days’ there isn’t a silver bullet when it comes to ‘how we work together’. Each team is different and over time finds its own rhythm and way of working. You must find your own way of working, and the faster you do that, the better off you will be.
Remote working is a way of working that requires an attitude and approach from all stakeholders (resources, team leads and executives) that is different to running an on-site team.
Leaders must set the example and play a significant role in setting the culture. Allowing it to organically emerge is not a solution with high pressure and tight timelines.
Communication and transparency are key. Constantly expecting your remote workers to explain, prove, and justify what they are doing every second of the day because of a level of, what is essentially mistrust, is huge resource drain and frankly pointless. In 2020 we have a host of tools in the cloud and on premises to help people collaborate – but it’s not just which tools you use but how we use them that matters.
With the right technology and tools in place your team members will thrive in a remote working environment. At a very minimum each member of the team will need:
A reliable internet connection: If the expectation is that people need to work from home then they need to have proper connectivity. If team members cannot get online, then they can’t work or participate.
Video conferencing software: Team members still need to interact and the closest thing to being in the room with someone is a video conference. Make sure everyone is connected!
Some well-known video conferencing solutions include GoToMeeting, Zoom, BlueJeans, MS Teams and Google Hangouts.
Use your Phone: While phone calls can feel like they take longer than sending a message, one can usually find a resolution in one call. Messaging, on the other hand, can keep a decision open for a longer period as messages bounce backwards and forwards.
Chat Tools: There are a vast array of Chat Tools that allow teams to keep communication open and transparent with everything stored in one place. These include Whatsapp, Fluid, Slack, Microsoft Teams and Google Hangouts Chat.
Collaboration and Productivity: With remote working, you can’t just lean over someone’s shoulder to check in on their progress. Having effective collaboration and activity tools for tracking who needs to do what by when is imperative. There are lots of solutions in this space – We prefer all-in-one solutions, so you don’t have to search for your work all over the place. We designed Fluid to be an all-in-one suite, perfect to manage and track all your programs, projects, meetings, team activity, agile execution, collaboration, and conversation – with its simple streamlined interface pulling everything together into a single dashboard view, great for remote working!
Now that you’ve selected the tools you’ll be using, let’s talk through a practical example to get your teams working remotely today! It’s important to adopt a clear process, one that doesn’t overly burden the team, while still giving the structure and management required to deliver. As with all new processes, over-communicating the way of work will probably be required. Don’t go back to emails for questions or updates, make use of your collaboration solutions. Our week goes like this:
Session to plan what needs to be done for the coming week. Tasks are agreed and dropped into the Not Started Swimlane on the team board.
Brief check-ins – Each team member updates on their progress – and reaches out if they have run into obstacles, this becomes an opportunity to ask for help or reset expectations.
Any tasks that are still outstanding for the week are evaluated. What needs to be done to complete them? Does it need to be reframed for completion? If it’s no longer relevant drop it!
Of course you can always go more formal with frameworks like Agile Scrum or Kanban using Fluid Boards or other solutions if that’s what works. We always advise to start simple and add complexity when it’s needed.
While running a remote team and business can be challenging, it can also be effective with clear processes and communication. So there’s no reason that your teams can’t get started today!
If you want to find out more about our Remote Working strategies and how you can use Fluid to support you and your team in staying on track even when working from home, we’re happy to help!
Reach out to me, I’m always happy to connect
Mark is CEO & Co-Founder of Fluid Business Solutions where he helps people work a better day