Covid-19 and Remote Work. I think Coronavirus has accelerated the migration to remote work, by having social distancing and Stay-At-Home directives may have some benefits for humanity in the long term (more about that later.)
I was trying to think what Facilitated Software Solutions could provide to help folks working from home or remotely for the first time. Here are some tips I have heard and might help.
One of the first things a manager needs to determine is, do all the virtual Team members have adequate internet speed for internet video conference meetings? What may have been great a week ago may not be fast enough with kids and significant others home watching a movie or the news online sharing that formerly great bandwidth.
If you are new to virtual work you may have to start using digital project management tools and communication resources. Microsoft Teams, Zoom, JIRA, Google G-Suite, Salesforce Lightning Dialer, Monday.com Evernote, etc. all have tools allowing not only tracked communication but whiteboards and Kanban Boards for visualization. We use these tools in combination to make sure the team is on course and time. There are excellent and inexpensive courses online, LinkedIn Learning, Udemy, etc. to get folks up to speed over a couple of days an all of these tools.
Make sure there is a secure but accessible document repository. If you are working outside the safety of a corporate firewall, your IT department may set up a corporate Google Docs or Microsoft Teams area. We use Atlassian Confluence as our needs require securing multiple projects with different Team members. Make sure you save and the back-up company works to this “Cloud Drive”. Nothing is worse than having the world’s greatest spreadsheet or Visio diagram lost because of a failed laptop hard drive!
I find it helps to use video conferencing with Team Members and I also appreciate software that allows us all to be displayed simultaneously. Facilitated uses Zoom but there are multiple vendors.
Keeping the Team on target. Use your Zoom meetings for your normal team meetings with a daily addition, “The Morning Standup”, also known as the Daily Scrum. Team spirit is really important and the importance of Team members talking about what they got done yesterday, any “rocks” or challenges in the path and what they intend to accomplish today cannot be overstated. Allow about 3 minutes per member. If there is a significant “rock” for an individual team member take it offline to a follow-up call after the virtual standup.
Take a few minutes before and after the reports for Team members to socialize. Keeping a personal relationship is important. You all have to work together towards a common target, and it helps team spirit to have some congratulations and virtual pats on the back.
Setting up your day. When working remotely there can be outside distractions, the dog wants to play or the kids want attention. Try to block out some time during the day for these. We have Cavalier King Charles Pups and as long as we include them in our day by taking them for walks or ear scratching breaks regularly they are happy and peaceful. I find it valuable to block out times (go offline) when I am just working on Tasks whether it is developing and updating reports or researching a solution. I put myself on do not disturb during these blocks.
The important thing for the Project Manager or Lead is not how team members structure their day but that their tasks are being accomplished promptly and scheduled virtual meetings are being attended. Check-in with them and encourage taking breaks regularly. If you don’t have those puppies or kiddies running around it is way to easy to get glued to your virtual chair for 4 or 5 hours.
Get up and weather permitting go for a walk. One virtual team I managed did this together! We took our Zoom meeting with us on our walk. My living in So Cal and walking at the beach has been deemed cruel and unusual punishment by some of my Team members!
Most of the Facilitated Software’s clients have Salesforce so the transition to remote work should be relatively easy. If you are currently using Salesforce, now is the time to use Chatter and Community Cloud. Other companies using cloud-based applications are in similar positions. The real difference for these workers is that the office break room is now their kitchen!
When the Covid-19 virus is over, many will have learned and adjusted to the significant benefits of remote work. Companies will need to reevaluate outdated concerns regarding remote workers. The potential corporate savings in overhead costs for office rent and power etc. will result in office downsizing with little or no loss of employment.
There will be fewer commuters on freeways, far less gas consumption, and a far more efficient workforce. This transition is also environmentally friendly with less car travel comes less air pollution.
Just as there was an industrial revolution that caused upheaval, we are going through an accelerated workforce transition as part of the knowledge worker revolution. This relatively new remote work may bring about the reduction of the populations of large urban areas like San Francisco, New York, and L.A.
So, for now, stay socially distant and healthy. Significant changes are coming to the workplace.