The COVID-19 pandemic has forced many workers out of an office environment and into a virtual work-from-home arrangement. This is not a simple adjustment! As agile practitioners, we value the ability to quickly adapt to change to continue delivering value to our customers, so we have gathered some of our best tips to help you quickly adjust to a new remote work situation.
Tips for adapting to remote work:
- Communication is KEY. It sure doesn’t matter what means your employees are using to get information if the right messages aren’t sent in the first place. Be clear, concise and consistent with your communication to all members of the organization.
- Make sure you have the right tools being used the right way. Tools like Slack or Microsoft Teams are great for collaboration, but they sure don’t beat a good old-fashioned face-to-face discussion when it comes to getting things done, and pronto. Take any chat longer than 10 messages as a trigger to arrange a video or audio call. And hey, just because you’re business casual from the waist up doesn’t mean you have to change out your pajama pants.
- Take timing into consideration. Remember to reserve email for non-urgent messages that don’t require a response today. And, don’t expect your Slack questions to be answered within the hour. Video and voice communications are best for time-sensitive matters, so go on and push that call button when time is of the essence.
- Transition your mindset from synchronous to asynchronous. Not all conversations carry the same level of priority, and with an asynchronous approach, you are mindful that there are certain discussions that can take place at the other participants’ convenience. Achieve asynchrony by creating a wiki in Slack or Teams where discussions take place or live chat summaries are posted. Bonus: Your team can benefit from the buildup of a great knowledge base! Boom. It’s smart to be asynchronous.
- Summarize in priority order. Don’t force people to read an entire discussion thread to get to the decision that was made. This isn’t Game of Thrones; spoilers are safe here. Start by communicating the final decision and follow with a list of the supporting points for those who want to read them.
- Post weekly team updates. Consistent updates are essential for keeping everyone informed at a steady cadence. These don’t have to be drab…make them special! Create clever video updates and place them on YouTube or an internal location for that precious aforementioned asynchronous consumption.
- Provide regular status reports. A daily and a weekly summary of what’s going on can go a long way toward keeping everyone in the loop. It might seem like overkill but a recap of everyone’s work helps spread knowledge and strikes up further conversations that otherwise might not be had. And these don’t have to be boring either! Try a daily group video session and get in some virtual face time.
- Take breaks. It’s easy to get lost in your work and forget to move around. If you find yourself stuck in your screen for too long, set reminders on your calendar to take active breaks. Stretch, walk, run if it helps. Just be sure to move or your body and mind will start to ache.
- Don’t forget to be human. We are wired for connection, and isolation can really stink. Prioritize video conversations where they make sense, or, at a minimum, call people and make use of your actual voice and listening ears. Get creative and hold shared coffee breaks where everyone reserves the same 10 minutes to talk about the last episode of Westworld. Take it from the numerous teenagers who have no problems socializing from a distance: we can do this.
Above all else, remember that everyone is facing a very similar need to adapt to the change brought about by the novel coronavirus global crisis, so don’t be hard on yourself!
If Sketch can help you in any capacity, please don’t hesitate to contact us.