For many, moving from office work to remote work hasn’t been so much of a shift as it has been an all out scramble 😳. A collective “wtf” moment shared by scores of newly remote teams across the globe.
That makes sense. With so many people jumping into virtual collaboration for the first time under Covid-19’s long shadow, there was bound to be a learning curve. Trip ups are expected when you have to hit the ground running. Things get awkward.
In classic spoof fashion, SNL nailed the Zoom call.
Fugo has always been a distributed team, with our workforce spread out between countries, doing a combination of work-from-home and work-from-the-office routines. So as remote work veterans, we’re well aware of the challenges now faced by the novice organization, manager, and employee. Below, we’re sharing lessons learned and best practices for keeping a team engaged and productive in this new work regime 💪
This is not a list of requirements, but rather a general philosophy, gleaned from experience, that governs how we do the one thing that affects everything else we do as a distributed team: communicate.
The demand for virtual collaboration tools has skyrocketed in the last decade. And now that remote work may be here to stay, the uptick will only continue 📈
There are hundreds of tools to choose from. A lot of companies make the mistake of having too many tools just for tools’ sake. What’s important is finding and keeping up with the ones that offer real value to your team. Here’s a quick list of some that make our cut:
Trello is an intuitive kanban planning app that lets you fully customize the boards you create. It works by setting up lists using cards, like post-it notes, on a layout that looks like a high-tech bulletin board. Cards can be labeled with assignment details, such as the person responsible, due date, and a task description. An activity sidebar tracks every change made to the board, so everybody on the team can see what the current needs and completed tasks are.
Why we love it: It’s intuitive, fun, easy for everybody on our team; great if you don’t need a heavy duty project management tool. Plus, it feels soooo good to archive a card 😎
Aptly named, Weekdone is a weekly reporting and OKR software that helps companies keep a pulse on their teams through setting goals and tracking progress. Teams can use it for planning their week’s work on an individual basis while linking their tasks up with overarching company objectives. Besides just weekly tasks and OKR progress, you can customize your dashboard to track things like job satisfaction, backlogs of work, challenges, and lessons your team learned along the way.
Why we love it: It’s been a great tool for our remote team to structure our week and stay focused on getting the right things done rather than just creating the appearance of being busy. Plus, the way individual, team, and company objectives are aligned brings into view how each person contributes to Fugo’s overall direction 👍🏽
While Zoom is definitely having its heyday at the moment, there are other alternatives out there for video conferencing. The two we use most frequently are Whereby and Google Meet. Both are easy to use and have all the collaboration tools you'll need to conduct productive meetings, like screen sharing, file sharing, and G Suite integration. Plus with Whereby we have extra flexibility to record our meetings for any team members MIA and open our Trello boards.
Loom is another favorite video messaging tool. For things like onboarding new employees, troubleshooting user problems, doing code reviews, or explaining complex workflows, Loom rescues teams like ours from lengthy back and forth messaging. In less time than it takes to type out an email, you can record your screen, voice (even face, for the brave 😉) into one easily shareable video.
When most people hear “workplace communication” they probably think of top down director-to manager-to employee communication flows. But what about lateral team member communication?
How employees communicate with each other isn’t just important for company culture, it’s really important for productivity too! The Donut app for Slack matches up teammates for a virtual get-to-know-you call (to be had over very real coffees, lunch breaks, or home living room happy hours 🍸)
Know Your Team describes itself as “software that helps managers become better leaders.” You can use it for basic employee management tasks like scheduling 1-on-1 meetings and sharing progress. But the coolest feature is that it can be programmed to ask your team social questions like “What was your favorite band 10 years ago?” once a week, helping people find surprising connections with each other and maybe grow a little closer.
If it sounds like forced water cooler talk, worry not - employees can also chime in with their own suggested questions to make it more relevant to your team 👥
If you need a little help tuning out distracting websites while you work, the Freedom.tu app does just that. Beyond keeping you focused on work, it’s also a great tool for building healthier digital habits in general 🌱 Right now we can all probably afford to sign out and sign off a little more. Freedom.to works on Mac, Windows, Android, iOS, or Chrome.
Working remotely is categorically not the same as working centrally, and should not be treated as such. If you found yourself having meetings all day at the office, now is a great time not to have those meetings. Write things up, disseminate information that way. Allow your team to absorb and contribute on their own time. Introduce some new tools 🧰. Improve how you communicate.
Ultimately, we believe this upheaval can be viewed as an opportunity ✨ If you are simply trying to simulate your office, you’ll not only set yourself and your team up for failure, but you’ll also miss out on an opportunity to learn a new skill. Working remotely is a skill. Being able to do the same work in a new way is a skill.
If you equip your team with the right tools and expectations, everyone will come out of this having learned something new. And perhaps, you’ll have found that having a new path to the same destination has made your company more resilient. Adaptation is a super power, so get remote work right and you may find that not only does it work, it may even offer you valuable new avenues 🙏