March 26 2020

Working Completely Remotely? 7 Things We Did That You Can Adopt Easily

Staying positive (and realistic) is the middle of a pandemic is tough. If you haven't already, please read Thi Thumasathit's personal take on how he does it.

Staying positive is important not only to individuals. It is also important for organizations.

Especially in times like these, when most businesses are operating remotely.

There are many great tips out there. We like this one from InVision, a company that's been completely remote from day one.

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(A little COVID+WFH humor)

Having all employees working remotely is a new paradigm for many businesses. It not only affects productivity, but also employee motivation.

We also need to ensure that social distancing does not create social isolation. Employees that thrive on interactions and the company of colleagues and work friends, find it tough to adjust to this 'new normal'.

So what silver linings are we looking for and emphasizing? There have to be some things to look forward to in this new work-from-home, shelter-in-place reality.

Seven handy tips from Team Dasera

At Dasera, we’ve been working from home for about two and a half weeks now. Here are some things we have done to ensure we keep the energy levels up:

ONE. Lunch-and-learn sessions

We recognized that our colleagues thrive on personal interactions. In regular times our sales and marketing team members got together for a lunch-and-learn session on the product once in two weeks. Since going remote, we've deployed a weekly lunch-and-learn for all employees. We choose 2 topics for each session using a Slack Poll - one technical and one non-technical topic. Everyone can jump in and ask or answer questions. Learning something new can be extremely motivating.

Screen Shot 2020-03-24 at 1.53.11 PM
(Sample poll we did for the tech topic our go to market team wanted to learn more about)
 

TWO. 3x the gaming time

When you're stuck at home, it can be tough to have fun with co-workers. For example, every Friday after the sprint demo, the Dasera team usually spent 30-45 minutes playing board games in the company office. Now that we’re all working from home, we decided to up our game (pardon the pun). We found a gaming website where we can all play board games together, but remotely. Not only that -- we also increased the frequency of games, from once a week to 3 times a week.

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(Boardgamearena is a great place to have fun as a group)
 

THREE. Videos on by default

This can be a little tricky, but if you make people comfortable about their unkempt beards, the children sitting next to them, or the dog barking for some attention, employees can warm up to the idea of always using their webcam during meeting. We’re turning video cameras on for all meetings now -- both internal as well as external. It’s just a better user experience. It helps people feel more connected (especially in troubling times) -- like we’re in the same room. And it improves engagement and communication. We haven’t made video cameras mandatory per se, but, after some leading by example, everyone has followed suit. It’s been good.

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(Keeping video on helps people emote and see others' emotions) 
 

FOUR. More leadership standups

It is even more critical in these uncertain times that every function works together in lockstep. As a result, leadership teams need to be more aligned and more in sync. One of the ways to ensure that is to meet more often - think of it like a leadership scrum meeting. When we were in the office, we had a leadership sync meeting once a week. But now have a brief leadership stand-up every morning. We each go through our done's, to-do’s, and blockers. And then we’re off running.

 

FIVE. Engage employees on Slack

As a business, we always promote developing deep relationships with our colleagues, partners, and customers. However, in the current scenario, some of those methods of engagement need to be moved to the virtual world. At Dasera, we now engage with our employees more actively using Slack. This includes polls (Who's eating what for lunch?), contests (Post pictures with your pet), accolades (Thank a colleague for their help), and general banter (Who else is thinking of growing a beard like the CEO?). We also have a #Coronavirus channel to share news, especially local news and updates to keep each other informed about what's going on. 

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Yes, we ask each other what we're eating for lunch.

SIX. Check in on each other more frequently

We’re asking how everyone’s adjusting to shelter-in-place and stay-at-home kids. We share relevant pandemic advice and news. We’re paying for a portion of home-internet connections. We’re asking how things are working, getting feedback, and adjusting accordingly. We also give people the space to air their pandemic concerns and grievances. Now more than ever we have to keep checking if everyone's doing well.

And -- of course -- we ask everyone if they’re running low on toilet paper. (Levity goes a long way in in stressful situations)

 

SEVEN. Use a task management system

When you're working remotely, it's potentially even more important to be productive and accountable. In order to institutionalize these values our leadership team uses a task management system (Monday.com). While we were in the office, it suffered from periodic use, if not outright neglect. Now that we’re remote, most of us are using it on a much more regular basis (i.e., daily).


screenshot_200381(Dasera uses Monday.com)

We hope you found these seven tips useful. If you have any other ideas, do share them. We'd love to learn and adopt from you.

Stay safe out there!