So…working from home!

Four weeks ago today, our entire team (apart from a few enthusiastic volunteers) worked from home whilst our HQ was packed up, loaded onto a van and moved across the water to Anchorage.

We’d spent the past few months gearing up to “Moving Day”, making sure we had the tech we needed and the right procedures in place to make sure the whole business could function without a drop in productivity…for “Moving Day” itself, but also as contingency should something go wrong. It didn’t. The move went brilliantly.

And then the world changed…

We made the “working from home” call on Friday, a decision based on the well-being of our team, the community and the best way to deliver for our clients. We aimed for ‘business as usual’ and – whilst unusual – it’s working well. We’ve learnt a few things though.

1. Things are much better with the video on

Calendar invite, hangout link, camera off, click “Join” – the standard actions of someone joining a conference call. Not any more!

We’ve found that calls genuinely are better with the video on – more engaging, more collaborative, more connecting. We see a different side of each other, and our clients. We feel much more like a team and more connected. It’s more light-hearted and it’s definitely more effective.

2. We’re actually talking more

It’s really easy to rock up to work, offer a quick hello to your team and crack on with the day. But now we’re all at home, every team is kicking off the day with a 9am call – just 15 mins – to share their plans, tasks, challenges and observations. 

We’re talking more than we do in the office. This isn’t a formal “stand-up’ for projects – we’re still doing those, of course – just a team meeting.

3. Our processes work

We’re lucky. As a tech business, we’re used to collaborating remotely with our clients and our teams. We use multiple online tools like Jira, Salesforce, Basecamp, Xero and more. We moved to GSuite a while ago, so everything’s in the cloud and Hangouts are nothing new to us. 

We’d been starting to play around with Jamboard and that’s been good for workshop tasks – we can definitely do more with that. We’ve had to run remote sessions with clients and more than 20 participants – and they’ve been really productive. 

We just did our first company-wide stand-up (OK, sit-down) to 140 people in 140 locations. It worked well. Quick tips – get a strong chairperson, use Chat for questions and make sure everyone knows where the mute button is!

4. A virtual brew is good

We’ve also introduced an optional daily moot with no agenda to beat the social-distance blues. So far we’ve had hat wars, impromptu karaoke and some serious home office envy. People are showing different sides we never knew existed.

5. Create a working day

We know we’re in this for a while, and it’s important to create good habits. Get up, get showered, have breakfast. We’ve made sure that people have all the hardware they need – monitors, chairs, keyboards. We’re trying to make it feel like ‘normal work’ as much as possible.

We also know that social interactions and movements are what make offices work so well, and the reason we don’t all work from home already. So find time for the small talk, the stretch of the legs, the walk to the shops at lunch. 

Wherever possible, within the current national guidelines, get away from the screen. A run, a dog walk, a phone call. It’s really important. Make the separation between ‘work’ and ‘home’.

So – it’s working.

We know that we can deliver all the things we need to deliver – but we also know that whilst it’s “business as usual”, it really isn’t. It’s the most unusual time, and we’re learning new things about ourselves and how we work everyday. 

We’re embracing the changes and making the most of it. We have to!