As of Tuesday, 17 March 2020, the OfferZen team is going fully remote. Whilst we have tested optional remote days once a week for about a year now, full-time remote work will now indefinitely become the new norm. Because we don’t know how long the situation is going to last, we are making sure our team is well set up. Here’s what that looks like.
1: Set up your space at home for prime productivity
Working from home can be hard when you don’t have the right set up. First of all, we’ve encouraged everyone on the team to try and establish a dedicated space to work in, where they can be as comfortable as possible with as few distractions as possible.
To help make this easier, we’ve also encouraged everyone to take whatever they need from the office to help make their work spaces feel as ‘normal’ as possible. We’ve set up a sheet for everyone to log what they take so we can keep track of all the monitors, chairs and tables that are temporarily finding new homes.
2: Keep in contact using effective communication tools
After having worked from home once a week for nearly a year, everyone is aware that when we’re not physically present, we need to be more deliberate about creating surface area on what we’re working on, as well as notifying the team when we’re going to be unavailable for a while. To make sure we do this well, we’ve set ourselves up with the following tools:
This is our primary communication tool, and we’ll continue to use it as such when we go remote.
Miro is a fantastic tool to replace whiteboards in meetings. Everyone can log in and if you switch on mouse tracking you can see what everyone is pointing at. This feature also means that you don’t need to do a screenshare via video conferencing platforms.
Here are a few cool Miro tips we’ve picked up on:
- Paste in rows from a spreadsheet and you’ll get an instant pile of stickies.
- Select a block of stickies and you can CSV export them back to a sheet.
- Everything has a URL, so you can post a link straight to an object in Slack.
- There’s a built-in voting system – have a look at the ‘thumbs up’ icon in the bottom left corner.
FocusMate is an online accountability-buddy tool that connects remote workers via virtual call while they work together, each on their own tasks, for 50 minutes.
When you get started, you both greet each other and check in on what you’re both hoping to achieve during the set period. You start working in silence, and then, at the end of the 50 minutes, there’s a ‘gong’ sound that prompts you to check in with each other, before signing off. Simple!
We use BambooHR to keep track of all our team’s information, and have made sure everyone’s phone numbers and addresses are up-to-date so that it’s easy to contact each other.
We’ve decided to adopt Zoom as our main video conferencing tool when we go remote as it has proved to provide the highest quality streaming service. We’re setting everyone on the team up with Pro subscriptions so that we can guarantee that everyone has access to the best connection.
Here are a few tips we’ve discovered since we’ve incorporated Zoom into our workflow processes:
- You can use Zoom via your web browser, download the app onto your laptop or get the mobile app. This is useful if you need to use it on the go.
- Once you’ve added the plugin, you can add Zoom Meeting details to your Google Calendar invitation with 1-click by selecting Zoom from the conferencing option.
- You can also change your meeting settings to allow non-verbal feedback, such as raising your hand and adding thumbs up or down, which is quite a cool feature.
- There’s also a Slack plugin to easily set up Zoom via Slack. Here’s a link to download the plugin.
3: Run effective remote meetings with your video conferencing software
Video call meetings are a lot harder to get right than face-to-face meetings. However, with a bit of practice, they get easier. Here are a few tips we’ve picked up since we’ve started using Zoom:
Prepare a clear agenda
This is important for all meetings, but we’ve found that it’s particularly important for online ones so that people can arrive prepared and ready to participate.
Allocate a chairperson to run each meeting
When people are on a video call, we’ve seen that it’s often more difficult to notice normal interaction cues, so someone needs to direct the conversation to make sure that everyone is able to effectively participate.
This person should focus on directing the session in a way that actively includes everyone, by doing things like:
- Inviting people to speak
- Summarising points
- Asking people to repeat something if it was unclear
If there’s a larger group, using the digital ‘hands up’ function allows the chairperson to pass the conversation on to the person who has indicated they have something to say.
Everyone dialling in should have their own room
We’ve found that for optimal streaming in Zoom, it’s easier if everyone has their own line rather than having some people dialled in and some in a meeting room.
Circulate notes straight afterwards
When there isn’t the opportunity to catch up with colleagues easily after a meeting, sharing notes that have been taken during the session is a helpful way to keep everyone on the same page and the information easily accessible for later reference.
There is also a handy chat function to write notes or share specifics while the meeting is happening.
Going remote is going to come with a lot of learnings for us. We’re excited to try something new, and make sure we all make it work as well as possible for us as a team.
We’ve had a lot of people in the community contribute very helpful articles about remote working on our blog, which have been invaluable to helping guide our thinking during this period. You can check them out here.
We’ve also found this article from Andreas Klinger to be particularly helpful because of the practical steps it provides on thinking about the ‘new normal’ and how to set yourself up to succeed.
This article by Hot Jar is also a great source on how to stay productive when you’re working remotely.
We’d love to hear from you about the things you learn as more and more of us are making the transition into remote working. Feel free to add your thoughts to the comments below, or contact us on any of our social platforms!