Mixed Business: Remote Work from Management Decisions to Home Dress Code

Many companies with no experience of remote work are forced to change ways of interaction urgently under current conditions. Digital Design staff has a significant experience both in remote work and remote project management. This is how the Research & Development Department is working, and Vladimir, its director, is willing to share his knowledge on how to move working processes into the remote mode quickly and effectively. Here are the most useful tips for management and employees.

For Management

Now there are plenty of tools created for remote work, but implementing it for an established working mechanism can be a challenge. You will need to run webinars and configure a way to communicate interactively, especially if your employees already work remotely. Keep in touch with your employees and do not hesitate to involve top management into the process. Here I will try to explain how the tools can be implemented in a fast and smooth way.

Making Decisions and Setting the Rules of the Game

It is important to understand that this is not the right time to experiment. Present a unified process so that employees would not wonder how to contact a particular colleague every single time. It should be done before they divide by different platforms like Slack, Teams or other.

Also, it can be useful to set the “rules of the game” and make convenient reminders for employees. You can define the working hours there and set the email and messengers check-ups frequency, to inform the management that all employees are online.

Keep Calm and…

The next point is about staying calm, and it applies more to executives and HR department employees. There is a chance that the staff will go crazy in the general nervous situation. I would recommend to set special hours for an employee to enter his manager’s virtual room and share his problems and concerns.

Hold Meetings and Keep Interacting

All general organizational tips that are commonly known as Agile ceremonies become more important while working remotely. These are regular stand-up meetings and daily tasks setting.

I would not recommend to set weekly tasks before employees as it is highly likely that something would go wrong. Moreover, since some people can appear to be not used to interacting remotely, it can be useful to hold evening meetings to share results and pay attention to psychological condition of the team.

According to the Agile practice, try holding less regular meetings (for example, twice a month). It would help to control the whole team’s progress and set goals for the next period.

While having a call, I recommend sharing the screen of the speaker for everyone to see the same picture. For instance, a common problem with watching webinars is losing attention and striving to check email or chats. That is why it is necessary to have your cameras on during remote calls. You may also get your employees more involved by introducing some products like Miro (or even PowerPoint Online) or by asking them to comment in chat.

For Employees

We can often hear about concentration problems while working remotely. However, everyone has developed useful habits in office and now we should adapt them to the current working environment. In other words, if you used to have dinner with your colleagues you may still do it online!

Keep Meeting! (Even if it seems weird)

Don’t forget about meetings: it is easy to spend 15 minutes per day on a call, as time spent on commuting has definitely been saved.

PDCA

Onу more psychological aspect regards the tasks list. All the lists being discussed at morning stand-up meetings are important, but I still recommend each employee to highlight more specific steps for themselves (especially for those having difficulties with concentration). To put it simply, if you have a task to write a report it would be more efficient to list all the steps that should be done in order for report to be completed, even if it includes asking your colleague to send you required data or other tiny things.

Arranging a Workplace and Getting Ready for Work

The crucial moment, in my opinion, is that you should never eat at your workplace. Firstly, you risk to spoil technical equipment, and secondly, your workplace is not the place to eat or play at. It would be perfect to arrange your workplace so that it would not be associated with leisure. I recommend working in clothes you would wear in office, especially if it was your habit.

Concentration: Separating Tasks from Useless Things and Dividing a Day into Short Chunks

Dopamine is a hormone in our body which is released when we are searching for something new. When people start working from home, dopamine receptors get crazy because of feeling like new information is passing you by. In this case I may recommend the following solutions: first, turn off all the notifications. You will still check all the messengers, but you will decide when to do it on your own. You may also set a reminder to check all the messages once per hour.

Secondly, try using the Pomodoro Technique: set a time period when you focus on only one task. Its author suggests dividing a day into 25-minutes chunks, but you may choose the period which is more appropriate for you.

At the end of this time period, you take a break and do nothing. It seems easy but it actually can be very effective.

Also, I often hear that while working from home people begin to eat more. There is no universal solution, but putting the meal into several small containers right after cooking really helped to reduce each portion. We often mix hunger with thirst, so a bottle of water on your table can be a handful tool in not eating too much.

There is also no universal solution on how to organize your work while being alone with children or pets. Still, if you have all the tasks strictly set, you will be less distracted from them.