As the 2019-Coronavirus is hitting our healthcare systems hard, remote work is spreading. My current client finally pulled the plug and encouraged us to work from home yesterday. As a consultant any activity involving *my* company is per definition remote. If I meet my management peers weekly, I see the rest of our employees only once a month. But this remote work, is something else entirely and I cannot hide my interest for it. I think this is a very exciting option for the future. A couple days ago, I asked Twitter for best practices articles. Below is a curated list of the best ones I received.
Scott Hanselman's Love in a time of Corona Virus
A very practical article in 4 parts: communication, equipment, lifestyle and things to avoid. I particularly like the following 3 tips:
Turn on your video when on a call with your team (there’s a bunch of communication which is non-verbal). Occasionally show off your pets on said video. It’s the little things that make it all feel more human.
During calls, make sure to wait a few extra seconds when asking if folks online have any comments. It can take time for folks to un-mute themselves, and sometimes things can chug or hiccup. It’s not as instant as it is face to face, so you don’t want to move on before folks can even get a word out on a call.
Don’t direct a question to more than one individual at a time. This can be mildly awkward in person, but over a call it becomes nearly impossible to figure out who will speak first without any of the visual/bodily cues we normally rely on to resolve speaking order conflicts.
And be sure to check other articles from Scott about Remote Work.
Gitlab Remote Ressources
Gitlab is a remote company. This page isn't an article per se, but a bunch of articles, including their "remote work emergency toolkit" for leaders and managers. I crawled all the articles I could find and pulled the following gems:
Establish a communications plan: [...] Whatever your current view on transparency, leaders should not hold back during this time. It's vital to maintain perspective through this shift. Everyone reacts to remote work differently, and not all homes are ideal workspaces. This can (and likely will) feel jarring, and team members will expect frequent updates as leaders iterate on their communication plan in real-time.
Minimize your tool stack: While functioning remotely, strip the tool stack down to a minimum. [...] Working well remotely requires writing things down. For companies who do not have an existing culture of documentation, this will prove to be the most difficult shift. Aim to funnel communication into as few places as possible to reduce silos and fragmentation.
Do not assume that remote happens overnight: [...] the remote transition is a process, not a binary switch to be flipped. Leaders are responsible for embracing iteration, being open about what is and is not working, and messaging this to all employees. Remote isn't a structure that merely works or doesn't work. Remote is a way of working that requires intentional and perpetual care and evaluation — just as you'd expect in an office environment. Working well remotely (or in-office, for that matter) is not something that is ever done or accomplished. There are always new tools to consider, new workflows to integrate, and new expertise to ingest. [...]
Make the executive team remote: If you want remote to work, start by cutting off the head. When the chief is remote, all of a sudden everybody is remote and everybody starts writing down everything. What used to be ephemeral and on a whiteboard became written down and stored. [...] Remove execs from the office, and you’ll quickly figure out what gaps you need to fill with tools and process. If you force the executive team to work remotely for a meaningful amount of time (over one month, in most cases), you'll discover communication gaps, as well as voids in tooling and process.
If it's not in the handbook, it doesn't exist: Your goal should be to answer everything with a link. If a team member asks you a question that you can't answer with a link, you should work according to company values to generate an answer, and immediately document that answer in the appropriate place in the handbook. This ensures that anyone who has the same inquiry at any point in the future will not have to impede on anyone's time to find the answer.
I would very much like to quote more but that would be too much. Here are some other articles I'd recommend:
- Self-service mindset
- If you are a manager: All Remote Management
- Communication guide
Phil Haack's remote work series
At the time of this writing, Phill published 4 parts. Here are my key takeways:
Focus on what’s important: The start of your work day is a great time to set goals for your day. [...] I like to set maybe one or two important goals to focus on for the day. The rest of the time is spent in meetings, maintenance tasks, and unblocking others by responding to emails or chats. It helps to allocate a bounded amount of time to these tasks so they don’t take over your day.
Overcommunicate: [...] At the beginning of each work day, let folks know what your going to focus on. At the end of each day, let your team know what you got accomplished. Let people know when blockers come up. Communicate.
Build Alignment: [...] “How do I make sure people are working on the right things?” Who cares if Bob is working hard if he spent an entire week optimizing a feature you planned to cut. Build alignment and then trust your people to work on the right things.
Embrace Asynchronous Workflows and Communication: If something can be resolved in an email, chat, or online discussion, do that instead of setting up a meeting.
Collaboration superpowers cards ♥️
This is a real gem! If you ever attended a telko or an online meeting, you will feel pain watching the following:
The Collaboration Superpowers Cards are here for you. Those are cards to brandish during a call to help you solve problems faster: I can't hear you, please mute yourself, etc. And yes, it supposes that you have video turned on... but since it was the very first tip of this post... 😉
Here's the PDF to print it yourself or even better the webapp to use on your phone (tap one image to make it fullscreen).
While writing this post, I finally stumbled upon this massive resource. Apparently, I wasn't the only one longing for more structured information. This collaborative document is almost too much to swallow, but a gem to crawl.
Anything to add to this list?
Photo by Loewe Technologies on Unsplash