We’re just about a year into this pandemic, and while it might feel like grasping at straws, if we’re honest, we have to admit that there have been a few positives. Every cloud has a sliver lining, right? In our case, we found that while we love coming together and collaborating as a team, when things got tough and we had to scatter to our home offices, we were able to make it work. Communication, as always, was key.
But when you’re used to a small team in a cozy space, and most discussions start with something like “Hey, Jonathan?” the push to remote work was a major shift. Here’s how we made it work, including some elements that I expect we’ll keep using when we’re back together permanently.
- Instant Messaging. Choose your tool here–there are plenty of options to choose from! Our team likes Slack. For quick questions, Slack can’t be beat. The Slackbot tools also make it easy to set reminders or set automatic responses. Away messages and status updates keep everybody in the know. If you’re on a call, in a meeting, or taking your lunch break, it’s easy to keep everyone on the same page. You can use one on one channels or group channels into themes by topic or department.
- Project Management Software. Manage your to-dos in a way that everyone knows what’s going on. We like Trello, but there are other tools that might suit your team better. Most of our boards are organized into a To Do/Doing/Done hierarchy, but with detailed checklists, notifications and alerts, and synchronized updates across the team, everyone knows when it’s their turn to jump in and take over. It makes it seamless to pass information back and forth and keeps projects moving forward.
- Fun. Don’t lose sight of those little interactions that keep the work day fun. Office culture happens around the proverbial water cooler, at the coffee pot, when that song comes on the radio again, when someone says “What’d you do this weekend?” or “Where’s your favorite place to get tacos?” These aren’t just silly distractions, they’re a real part of team building. And when the team scatters, it’s easy to lose sight of those little things. Our team works to keep things on track by continuing our weekly team lunches, even if it means ordering delivery to separate houses. We also make a point to begin our team meetings with everyone sharing their highs and lows from the previous week. It’s a nice checkpoint into our personal lives and helps us stay connected. The average person will spend 90,000 hours at work over a lifetime. While every day won’t be a picnic, we’re of the mind that you should be enjoying most of that time. Staying connected can be. a big part of that.
As a bonus, I can tell you that our team keeps a Zoom room open so we can work in parallel. Even from home, it feels a lot like sitting at your desk, working nearby. This may not be a solution for everyone, but for us, it has been one more piece of the connectivity puzzle that helps keep us all on track. The camera feed is mostly people working at their desks–but isn’t that the view from in the office anyway? It brings just a bit of normalcy to some very abnormal times.