In our last post we offered practical tips for how to stay secure while working remotely. In this one, we’d love to share more about the principles and tools we use as a remote company to stay connected and productive.
While several in our coalition (pun intended) work out of our San Francisco and Provo offices, more than 60% work from their homes all around the world – in Austin, Boulder, Lisbon, London, New York, Toronto, Washington DC, and Zurich, among other locations. To stay productive, we knew that our employees’ home offices and routine had to help them:
Be more productive, focused, and organized
Be healthier and happier
Be more – not less – professional
We also knew that the biggest challenge of working remotely would be communication.
Email – we use this for asynchronous communication not requiring an immediate response. And we’re sure to establish the proper etiquette, namely: - Everyone should attempt to respond to emails within 24 hours. - If you want a response, make it clear in your email whom you expect to respond, what you need, and by when. If you don’t do this, then you shouldn’t expect a response.
Slack – is used for all synchronous communication requiring an immediate response. Team and company updates, social communications, and water-cooler chat. Similarly, we ask everyone to observe basic etiquette: - Read all new messages in the #general and your immediate team’s slack channel at least daily - If someone pings you using your @handle, you should try to respond within one hour (assuming you receive the ping during your normal work schedule!) and you have not set expectations of a longer response time.
Zoom & Google Hangouts – is used for video meetings for face-to-face, real-time conversations. In addition to using video chat for planned meetings, we have a company-wide Google Hangout that’s always on for social chatter – it’s our version of a virtual water-cooler. We ask teammates to observe similar etiquette for video conversations: - Always share your video. - Be present! Show that you’re paying attention. Don’t multi-task, and focus on the person or people on the other side of the screen.
Whatsapp – this is our back-up. If home Internet fails, Slack is down, etc., we can fall back on International mobile telephony and communicate over Whatsapp or a similar app.
The biggest challenge for us after communication is managing burnout, loneliness, and security (as we covered in the previous post). Contrary to popular belief, most remote employees end up working more than their office counterparts. Being remote can also feel isolating… but it doesn’t have to be that way!
From our collective experience working remotely, these are the key success factors for prolonged remote work:
Have a dedicated workspace – Ideally this is a separate room with a door, but any space where you can eliminate background noise, people, pets, etc. will do. And it should be used consistently so that when you go there, you feel like you’re going to the office. This will allow you to separate work from the rest of your life, develop and maintain healthy work/life habits, concentrate and be more productive, and help with ergonomics (a good ergonomic set-up will increase your efficiency!)
Establish and follow a schedule and routine – Take screen breaks, and eat your lunch away from your office space. Importantly, get some physical exercise. Take a walk, lift some weights, jump on the Peloton. And get as much sleep as your body requires (i.e., set sleeping hours). Time management is also critical. Plan every day. Know what you need to accomplish and what hours of the day are better for you for creative versus administrative tasks. And block your schedule accordingly to hold yourself accountable and minimize distractions.
Recognize that life is short, and enjoy it! – speaking on behalf of everyone at Coalition, we’re really lucky to all be doing what we love… protecting our customers from cyber risks. But once we unplug, we all take the time to get out and do the things we enjoy – “Fuel the purpose,” as we call it!
While many of us are currently forced to work remote, don’t be surprised if you start to enjoy it! No commutes, more time with family and loved ones, control of the thermostat(!), far easier to duck out for a midday run, yoga, or cycle, and, best of all, desk karaoke. No co-workers to stop you from belting one out!
You and your colleagues just might enjoy them too...
Virtual Happy Hours – we did our first one last night with great success using a Google Hangout. It was completely optional, but at peak we had nearly 30 sharing a drink (from 0 to >0 proof) from all over the world (after all, 5pm in San Francisco is only 1am in Switzerland).
Donut – We’ve been trying out this freemium Slack app that randomly pairs together different teammates to get together for, for now, a virtual coffee, lunch, or donut. It’s a fun way to strengthen personal connections across the team, and helps people get together with, and learn from, those they might not otherwise know.
Hope some of our experiences can help you and your teams during this challenging period. This too shall pass!
From all of us at Coalition: be well! We are an email, phone call, or online chat away at all times.