The Covid-19 has swept across the globe, causing tremendous change in everyone’s lives. Which were once crowded streets in European capitals are now empty where mask-wearing is mandatory, borders are being closed, and pharmacies are running out of hand sanitizer.
Businesses had to adapt to changes quickly to ensure everyone’s safety. One of the most obvious changes being that companies have had to start implementing remote working practices. In some places, many went remote before the government-mandated a quarantine but in others, some — had to comply after. We were no exception! At Riverflex we were able to move quickly and found ourselves among some of those first companies to take that precaution. Due to the flexibility of our team and nature of our company, the process wasn’t that painful – but it might not be true for many others.
If working remotely has not been part of your business practice so far and you are still struggling to make more drastic plans to move your team online, we’re here to help you. We want to share some practical steps you can follow to get your remote team set up quickly and as effectively as possible so that you can get back to business.
Here are three main steps we’ve taken to adapt to the new world.
Step 1: Setting up virtual working environments
Every company uses some sort of online coworking software nowadays, be it GSuite, Sharepoint, or a myriad of alternatives. However, this may not be enough when everyone is out of office. Even with our flexible team who is used to working remotely, we had to come up with new ideas on how to collaborate more effectively with no face-to-face contact at all.
First of all, we’ve stuck to the pinnacle of internal online business communication, Slack. In situations like this, its strongest feature is not messaging, tagging, or even channels, but it’s limitless opportunities for synchronisation with other apps. In Slack, we can connect to our calendars and see when someone is in a call, it reminds us of our schedule and send notification before a meeting and it can help manage your emails or Google Doc files. Slack is the central place that keeps our countless apps and online spaces together, providing the team with a seamless experience. If you are not using it yet, it’s about time you set up a workspace!
Secondly, we had to sort out our online meeting apps. We’ve mostly used Zoom which is great for larger company meetings and conference calls. We’ve found that Zoom seems faster, more reliable and less prone to lags than Google Hangouts. Although you may have to pay for this app depending on your size team, it’s worth it as it’s easy to set up, and easy to share in your email or Google Calendar. We’ve used it for a while now and it proves handy during a quarantine, too.
One app is new to the team and we’ve only just started using it: Tandem. We found this gem at the start of quarantine and fell in love with it immediately. Its main feature allows everyone to chat seamlessly online and connect to anyone else and start talking right away. There are also rooms for group chats, coffee breaks, ‘help needed’, and whatever you would like. As soon as someone enters any of the rooms, everyone in the team is notified and can join. Since we started using that, it’s felt just like being in the same office – with no barriers between us. Not only does it help our productivity, it also keeps the morale up.
Now let’s get into the co-working apps. We use three main apps, the first one being the obvious GSuite with Google Drive and Docs. Everyone is familiar with this at this point, so let me go ahead. The next one is Trello, and surprisingly, we don’t only use it as a task manager anymore. It proved extremely useful as a content pipeline and process visualisation tool – a very important function for remote work. We manage articles, people’s operations, and other things in here. It turned out to be very flexible, so you might be able to find even more uses that suit your business model and workflow. Don’t be afraid to experiment!
This last one is also a recent discovery for us – an online visualisation tool, Mural. It’s reminiscent of mindmap apps like XMind or MindMup, but much more powerful and flexible. It is somewhat of an online whiteboard where you can add stickers, graphs, texts, and whatever you need to brainstorm and flesh out ideas. It has dozens of frameworks and templates preinstalled, so uses out of the box are almost unlimited. We are mostly using it to collect insights, research results and to visualise our project progress, but then it’s really only limited by your imagination.
[Related: Meet our Partners: MURAL, modern tools for a modern way of working]
Step 2: Organise the work
Now that you have everything set up, it’s time to come up with the processes.
We found out that with such an elaborate online environment, and our existing practices, few changes will be necessary. However, we did decide to adopt some of Agile principles. For instance, we organised daily stand up meetings for different departments and weekly conference calls for more strategic goals and discussions. This, on top of regular meetings in Tandem, emailing, and texting in Slack, helps us all keep up with important tasks we need to deliver to run effectively and efficiently.
It depends entirely on the structure of your company and the nature of your processes, but we believe that the more communication, the better. Have a discussion among yourselves and set up the schedule – you’ll see the positive effects almost immediately!
It would be a good idea to schedule reoccurring meetings every once in a while. This way your calendar won’t let you forget anything, and it will be easier to keep yourself organised. Even with Agile, every team has different structures and approaches, and you will have to figure yours out. Just remember, communication is key!
[Related: How to build a successful agile enterprise]
Step number 3: Be a team
In the dire times of the global pandemics, what keeps our spirits high is the feeling of comradery and team. There are no apps to uphold that, no methods or simple practices. Just keep your spirits high, be there for each other and support your friends and colleagues.
It could be a great team-building exercise to organise some leisure activities together, too. Get together after a working day for a quick video chat and laugh, relax with your team at Friday drinks via a video conference, play table tops online. If someone in your team has a birthday, throw them a surprise party at an ‘urgent ops call’. We tried that, and it’s fun! Whatever you come up with and whatever helps you relax will help your team stay strong.
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[Related: How to grow your consulting business through an economic downturn]