These are extraordinary times! And I suspect (and I think we now all accept) that as we adjust our behaviour in response to the Covid-19 virus threat, this will result in new structural changes to our long entrenched social and work habits.
There’s already a plethora of advice circulating about how businesses should adjust to cope with significant increases in remote working. All of this advice is generously shared and well intentioned of course, but how much of this advice is based on actual experience of remote working?
I wanted to share with you the experience of a good friend of mine the CEO of Push Entertainment – Simon Scott.
Push has never had an office! They started the business in 2005 and are now a team of 40, all remote working from home. Push is also a very serious business! They service global clients in the Entertainment industry, in a world of impossibly tight deadlines, complex and sometimes necessarily unclear briefs, and with their reputation always being on the line.
Here are the top lessons they have learnt over the years that we’d like to share as everyone adapts to working from home.
Remote working must haves
1. Mandatory regular video calls.
Push introduced video calls 6 years ago as they could see that people did simply not understand each other. They were not listening to each other, often distracted and levels of teamwork and engagement often low. “As soon as we got eye contact back, people started interacting properly with respect and as a team” A lot of people were resistant at first, so to show how serious we were, video calls were made mandatory and no one was let off the hook. This is our number one tip.” – says Simon Scott.
2. Daily stand-ups
This works well for teams of up to around twenty people. At 9:15 every morning Push have a series of ‘all hands’ team calls that last no more than 15 minutes! At each morning “stand up” each team member should say a) what he or she are working on that day, and b) who else in the team they expect to have contact with. Again this is mandatory! It means that your team bonds right from the off, what expectations they have of everyone else, and everyone is aware of what the pinch points of the day will be. Simon recommends that where possible you do not have this call run by one of the management team. Instead, he suggests you find a volunteer who is well liked and a good communicator to facilitate these meetings, as well as, an agreed deputy should they be on holiday.
3. Establish your chat client etiquette
Never video call someone without establishing the right to do so. A request to ‘Speak?’ in whatever chat client you use will suffice.
4. Reverse the permission paradigm
We understand that as soon as you are working from home then life will get in the way and we embrace rather than fight it. The “Can I pop to the shops?’ becomes ‘I’m just popping to the shops’. Scott says…”In return for this freedom the understanding is that you have no outstanding un-communicated obligations to a fellow team member before you leave your desk”. It is a sin to keep a colleague waiting and stopping them from working. Co-Worker respect becomes all when remote working, no matter what your position in the company.
In conclusion Scott says, ‘Take the time to be clear about what you want people to do, and follow up in writing so that there can be no misunderstanding.”
Additional stuff that really helps
Use shared documents, Google Docs, Office 365, and the like, all have great document sharing capabilities, stop using stand alone docs and get used to collaborating, screen sharing and the like.
Enforce meetings in calendars even for those “Shall we chat after lunch?” meetings. Make sure all meetings have agendas.
Encourage people to share personal stuff. Push Entertainment run a few group slack channels including PushThingsI’veMade for the creative and PushCinemaClub where some of the team go and watch the same movie in the same week.
Would you like to learn more? Get in touch via the contact form on our website (www.ninety-days.co.uk) or by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org to discuss what it is you feel you need and to see if our experience can help.