When I started at WORK180 a year ago I, like many, had only ever participated in remote working from my couch. I was excited about spending more time with my cats every day but nervous at the prospect of managing teams and my own priorities outside of the structure of an office.
With the current global shift towards working remotely, brought on by COVID-19, the new strain of novel coronavirus that is currently causing anxiety in our communities and uncertainties in our industries - it seemed like a timely moment to stop and reflect on some of our own remote work challenges and benefits and share our experience as a full team of telecommuters.
Benefit: De-stress your day from the moment you wake up
We all know the stress of hitting ‘snooze’ on the alarm that one time too many, the rush to get ready and get our hair somewhat presentable before jumping in the car and straight into traffic, or on to that crowded train to rush to work.
When fully remote, it is important to keep your normal daily routine - but you do have the opportunity to cut out that travel time. Get up. Have a shower. Get dressed. Congratulations! You still have an extra thirty minutes or more up your sleeve. You could use that to get ahead of your workday, or get in that exercise you have been promising yourself since last winter (I swear, I will make a habit of it.. Next week.)
Challenge: Settle into your rhythm
Working in a remote company certainly has its unique challenges, one of which is a lack of colleagues to answer all those random questions like “Where is the stationary kept?” (Hint: It’s at your local stationery store) or to grab that 10 am coffee with. You may need to find your own rhythm when you move to remote working, so give yourself the time and space to work out what works for you. Go to your local cafe for a coffee if you can. Work for the last hour of your day in your backyard. Do what works for you. Toni, one of the WORK180 developers, couldn't live without Spotify while I use podcasts throughout the day to ensure I have focus and some of that ‘office’ noise to keep me company.
Benefit: Get your health on
One of the first pieces of advice I was given when I started at WORK180 was to get a timed lock for my fridge. While telecommuting can absolutely be a trap for snacking, nearly our entire team agreed that they now eat healthier at home. Planning ahead for the week allowed everyone to stave off that sneaky run to KFC, though our CEO Gemma did admit that she calls on the expertise of UberEats on a busy day! Personally I plan for the week each weekend and ensure I have a stacked fridge and cupboard of healthy lunches. And tea. Lots of tea.
Challenge: Switch off, don’t burn out
One great thing about the workday commute is that it is a clear marker for when to start and end your day. Working remotely can blur the lines between work and home life, and each member of the WORK180 team has their own way of dealing with this. Our Technology Lead Damian takes a walk at the end of the day, while others stick to a traditional 9-5 working schedule where possible. Naesa, one of our Developers, uses technology to ensure she is taking breaks throughout the day and turning off at night
I have my Google home set to alarm every hour to remind me to get up and walk around because sitting all day is bad for you! When I'm really good, I pick up my weights and do some squats.
The number one tip for switching off at home is to have a dedicated space to complete your workday. While it can be tempting to work in front of Netflix or at your kitchen bench, having a dedicated office will mentally and physically separate your work life from your home life. If you cannot create a dedicated room, think about a dedicated desk in your house or apartment that you can close and walk away from at night.
Benefit: The best meetings you will ever attend
At WORK180 we use Zoom video conferencing to ensure that all our company meetings are held face to face - even if the people in the meeting are from our UK team. As we are telecommuting, we often have guests join our meetings - whether it be someone’s child, puppy, or cat popping in to say hello. Video conferencing ensures our team builds strong relationships both professionally and personally - though video conferences can have a tendency to spiral if you do not set a structure and some basic rules. Set an agenda and stick to it. If you are really controlled, set time limits for each agenda item too. In the product team, we also use a physical trigger - creating ‘rabbit ears’ with our fingers - to denote a conversation is going figuratively down a rabbit hole
Challenge: While we are talking about relationships...
As you move to remote work, you may start to miss the ‘watercooler’ conversations. At WORK180 we have embraced a number of ways to ensure we have an outlet for our MAFS and AFL discussions. (Go Bombers!)
Slack - Our entire company uses Slack as our main source of communication. We have all kinds of channels - from ‘Sales’ to ‘Why We Do What We Do’, from ‘Plants’ to ‘Pets’ - where team members can share photos, discuss news stories or have meme battles. For the record, Business Cat is the undefeated champion.
Donut - Donut is a plugin for Slack that we cannot stop talking about. Donut randomly pairs team members together at intervals of your choosing to have a donut and a coffee. As a remote team, our donuts are often shared via video conference, though we do try to get together face to face when locations permit. Damian recently spoke to Donut about how we use their product, which you can read here. ‘Donut’ waste any time implementing Donut with your team!
Benefit: Virtual collaboration has never been easier
Most people are used to working with shared products when adding comments and edits to colleagues documents, but we found the need to invest in platforms above and beyond Microsoft SharePoint and Google Drive - though we use both excessively.
JIRA - Great for Project Management and agile/kanban Product Development
Nuclino - the perfect company noticeboard - policy documents, contact lists, important information. Nuclino is our company wiki
Trello - streamline your teams stand-ups and priorities with a Trello board. You can create tasks and ‘to do’ lists and move jobs once they are completed.
Miro - want to have a design thinking session? Whiteboard ideas with your remote team? We use Miro to have post-it note brainstorm sessions and set our Objective Key Results (OKRs)
Challenge: Keep those lines open
If you take one piece of advice when moving to a remote workforce, let it be this; over-communicate. We ask our teams to provide feedback, collaborate, ask for help, ask questions and put their hand up if they are struggling. The biggest challenge you will face in a telecommuting environment is the inability to naturally observe body language and ensure your team's health and wellbeing is positive. We have regular one on one catch ups, as well as team meetings, and as part of our Objective Key Results (OKR’s) we check in on team health every Monday as a leadership team. We want every single team member to thrive in our virtual workplace, and we use all communication tools at our disposal to do our best to check-in.
Through this time, WORK180 has remained BAU in the way we work. If you would like to talk to us about how we can help you with flexible work or remote working policies or to help strengthen your workforce through diversity & inclusion, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org or take our Endorsement Check
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About the author
To help women find a workplace that will work for them, we prescreen employers on flexible working, pay equity, paid parental leave, and more. Find your next role on the WORK180 job board.