[updated May 2020]
We work in an industry where a large part of our interactions with clients and our delivery of products is digital. A quick email, a phone call or Skype is much easier to fit into everyone’s schedule than an in-person meeting.
Why, then, is it so hard to master the art of working remotely? The challenge is finding creative ways to change the perception of needing to be next to each other to get work done. As a company that has been servicing clients under a remote model since we began almost 18 years ago, and that has teams in different states and countries that work very close together, we have a little bit of expertise in this subject.
The driving concern was that since Zemoga promotes the spirit and environment of building bonds between the team members, dissolving the connection of a physical space seemed to threaten that goal. Once we rolled out an organized process to allow employees to work from home, we saw positive results.
Working remotely doesn’t need to be difficult.
As digital thinkers, we would be remiss if we weren’t on top of the best digital ways to make working from home a better experience for everyone, whether they’re in the office or not.
Working remotely is typically solitary, and often lonely. It’s entirely possible to go an entire day without speaking a word if you’re not on any calls. That’s not good for office culture, and it’s not good for your productivity as an individual. A study done at California Sacramento University found that lonely workers get less done and have worse team performance.
Whether it’s an ongoing Skype thread or a voice or video call in the background, human contact–even digitally, is important.
Business as usual
Meetings as usual
Our WFH policy, which allows each team member to work from home twice a week, requires that our team continue their work days as if they were in the office. As Google Hangout links can be easily added to meeting calendar events, it’s simple to add video conferencing so that team members can connect to each meeting. We also have a calendar dedicated to those who are working from home so that each team member has visibility of which of their team will be in or outside of the office (which we’ll resume using once we return together).
Maintain normal routines
During ‘normal’ times we hold weekly extracurricular classes like fit training and cooking classes, and since self-quarantining we’ve done our best to retain the routine that our Zemogians have been used to having in their extracurricular calendars. Classes are completely optional and allow our team to opt-in and connect with their colleagues for a bit of fun and extra education when they like.
Eye contact is extremely important in communication, so we always encourage that cameras are turned on during video calls and meetings. Not only is it the closest thing to being in-person with one another, it gives us a chance to understand our connections and reactions to important matters.
Dedicated Channels (& Automated Reminders)
When your team is spread out between different office locations, it’s key to make sure all communication channels are open and streamlined. We currently use Slack for all communication and have dedicated channels for team projects, internal topics, company announcements – the list could go on. Slack also has a video-call feature to allow teammates to hop on a call without having to switch applications, and its ability to integrate with other tools such as Jira or Google Calendars lets more things get done in one place. Since we went 100% WFH full time, we’ve set up automated reminders on a schedule to remind our team to take active pauses to make sure they stand up and get their blood flowing.
We’re making working remotely easier for everyone.
Zemoga won the SAP M-Prize for the Office Mood Check-In, a product concept to gauge the mood of everyone in your office at any given time. It works for team members working remotely as well, so a team can understand how others are feeling even if they’re not in the office. It makes possible the previously-insane job of HR trying to understand how remote employees are doing.
Since our team has grown immensely since then, we’re making efforts to go the extra mile and ensure that our people-connection and culture is maintained in the same way that it is with a much smaller team, and we’re making internal video calls to continue the closeness among the team members to help avoid feelings of loneliness during work time at home.
Most importantly, have trust in your team. Hold them accountable, but don’t hover or micromanage. If you’re doing ‘WFH’ right, then all the tools should be available and at-hand for teams to use and connect to.
We’ve been fortunate enough to work in an industry where media and digital consumption is increasing at a faster pace than ever before, and we’re still hiring! If you’re interested in working with us, send your CV to firstname.lastname@example.org.