The modern workplace is evolving lightning fast. It’s becoming increasingly distributed. After realizing that remote work leads to a healthier, happier and more productive workforce, more and more companies are now transitioning roles from onsite to remote. And that was before the coronavirus pandemic struck.
Having recently (before the coronavirus) switched my role as a Product Marketing Lead for Finturi, permanently from on-site to a remote one, I thought I could share some advice for startups and employees on key things to do, to make such a transition successful.
Key tips for startups:
#1 Set up an employment agreement
As a startup, if you want to transition a role from on-site to remote, then the first thing that you need to understand is how the employment agreement will be set up. This is especially important if the employee will be working remotely from a different country. You need to think about questions like:
- Are you authorized to directly employ a person in that country?
- Do you need to register an entity in the new country where the employee is going to work from?
- Would it be faster and cost-effective to just use an international PEO (professional employer organization)?
#2 Define the degree of asynchronicity
Asynchronous work comes with many advantages but as a company, you need to decide how asynchronous do you want your team to be. Decide on a minimum number of hours you want to be overlapping for the entire team to make collaboration easier. Once your company gets used to remote work, you can reduce the overlapping hours or increase them depending on your needs.
The number of overlapping hours can also vary by role. For example: In my case, being a product marketeer, I interact quite frequently with the product, sales, management, and customer support teams. Hence we decided to have at least 4 hours a day overlapping.
#3 Finalize your collaboration plan and tools
As a startup you might be used to having standups every Monday or weekly meetings or town halls every month, going remote means, you need to do all of this effectively remotely. So decide on when and how you will do these meetings. Decide on which tools will you use for different activities like video meetings, project management, file sharing, team communication, etc.
There are multiple tools like Zoom, Teams, Trello, Jira, Google Drive, One Drive, Slack, etc. out there. Evaluate which one is the best for you and set up the tools. Make sure all employees are trained to use these tools. Also, decide which meetings will be audio and which will be video. In my experience, video meetings give the best experience and all meetings should be video.
#4 Keep your employees motivated and engaged
In a remote setting, keeping employees motivated and engaged can be a challenge. Think of innovative ways of doing so. For example – You can have remote coffee meetings frequently and a company outing every 6 months.
Encourage your employees to set up remote coffee meetings with each other, these can be short meetings and a good way to discuss random things outside work which will foster better connections among employees.
If you have multiple remote workers in the same city, encourage them to plan a meetup once a month or plan a team building activity for them. Most importantly, make sure there is frequent communication, may it be via chat, email, audio or a video call. This will make sure employees feel engaged.
#5 Conduct initial reviews and keep iterating
Remote work can be done and managed in multiple ways. Once you decide on the above points, make sure to set up periodic reviews with the team. Get their feedback, and adjust your plan accordingly until you find a sweet spot that works best with you.
Key tips for employees:
#1 Setup a fast and reliable internet network
You need a fast and reliable network connection so that you can have seamless collaboration. In my experience, an internet speed of 20-30 Mbps is good for working from home. There are multiple sites where you can check your internet speed. Check the speed there, and if it is lower, upgrade to a higher speed plan or a different service provider.
#2 Set up a dedicated workspace
To discipline your mind as well as the body, you must set up a dedicated workspace. Get a nice ergonomic chair, a height-adjustable table, display screen if you need and set it up in a quiet place in your apartment. This will ensure that your mind is trained to think of this space as work and the rest of the house as home. It will give you a distraction-free environment and also make sure that your posture is maintained while you work.
#3 Discipline yourself
Self-discipline gains the utmost priority while you work remotely. Finalize on a schedule and stick to it. Get out of your pyjamas and dress up like you would if you went to work. Take time out for exercise or meditation to increase your focus and stay fresh. Set clear work/home boundaries. Let everyone know when you will be available for household chores and when you won’t be available for them and finally, don’t forget to schedule your distraction-free working hours.
#4 Communicate frequently and carefully
Over-communicate! This is crucial to make sure everyone is updated and feels engaged. Make sure you know how to use all the communication channels. Take the initiative to set up catchup meetings with colleagues and schedule periodic reviews. This will help everyone get comfortable with the remote work environment and help you get the most out of it. Make sure you are careful with the language you use while communicating, and that there is no confusion during any communication. If you think there is, then jump on a call and get it resolved immediately.
#5 Stay socially active
One of the biggest challenges remote workers face is the lack of social interaction. Remote work can get super lonely after some time. Make sure, you plan some short breaks during the day. Plan some activities for those breaks. Join some classes in the morning or evening. Take some strolls in the park and if you are an extrovert, consider finding a co-working space nearby and just work from there for a couple of days a week. This will make sure you don’t feel lonely.
In conclusion, remote work is possible and is highly effective. It just requires a change of mindset, for both employers as well as employees. If you follow the above steps you will be all set for successfully working remotely.