The coronavirus/COVID-19 has caught us all by surprise: all of a sudden, working remotely has become the norm instead of the exception. Understandably, the lack of a solid governance framework and learning curve – remember that luxury? – can cause confusion. In these trying times, the new reality forces the FIT Global team to cope with this digital workplace.
Is this new for us? No! We, FIT Global, are an SAP product developing company developing solutions for the equipment management market, like Fit-Rent (for equipment rental processes), Fit-Prime (for equipment purchasing and Sales), Fit-Service (for servicing and maintaining equipment) and Fit-Parts (to optimize your spare-parts management).
We are an international company and some of us worked from home on a daily basis. So we have a lot of experience in house. Now the challenge is to spread this knowledge in the company to others so everybody can benefit from it.
While every company is different, the teams often see the same kind of questions and challenges pop up in every project. As a result, our teams have amassed a wealth of best practices and insights on organizing remote working, for both companies and individual employees. “We understand the challenge many organizations are facing today – even if they already have a system like Office 365 or Microsoft Teams in place. However, with some key guidelines, they can stave off confusion and chaos and safeguard efficiency as much as possible.”
Of course there are good tools on the market (like MS Teams) on which you can take a subscription to. But there are also quite some good tools which often free of charge (for a limit group of uses).
Rule #1: Make clear agreements
Without face-to-face interaction, there is a lot more space for misunderstandings. Your team can eliminate this by setting a couple of ground rules, including:
- Share your agenda will all relevant colleagues
- Keeping shared agendas (google.agenda) updated at all times.
- Agree on the use of tools:
- Internal conference calling for all via Google.meet, without video enabled;
- External conference calling with Go2Meeting.
- Share documents via GDRIVE
- Respecting the purpose of each channel to avoid confusion and improve the speed of finding content.
Rule #2: Pick the right communication channel
Without the option of simply walking over to your colleague’s desk or setting up an in-person meeting, the question remains: how can I best communicate with my colleagues?
- General announcements, knowledge sharing, practical questions: use e-mail.
- Announcements that are relevant for a subset of colleagues, like staff or CLT: share via e-mail.
- Announcement for a limited number of people, e.g. concerning a specific project: WhatsApp group, e-mail or organize a conference call with google.meet.
- A one-to-one announcement or a short question: hit the WhatsApp button, or… just give him/her a call.
- Log-in to a conference or video call two minutes before the ‘official start’ to make sure you have overcome all technical log-in issues before the meeting starts.
- Missing someone in the group chat or call? You can add them on the fly during the call.
Rule #3: Hold regular team meetings, but keep it efficient
Frequent interactions at team level are very important when working remotely. You can increase their efficiency by respecting a few ground rules:
- Be on time! Coming late in a meeting is disrespectful to your colleague.
- Keep it short: presentations, for example, should be shortened as much as possible, as the attention span for remote listening is shorter than in face-to-face interactions. Try to stay within the indicated time slot.
- Use the mute button if you’re listening to someone giving a presentation to keep ambient noise and echo out.
- Keep the camera out of service. It distracts from the speaker.
- Don’t forget that you can also share your screen to show colleagues what you are talking about.
- If there is need to ‘record the meeting’, ask every attendee for permission.
- Play around first, structure it later
Rule #4: What about the background at home?
We know it is challenging, but remember, we are all in this together
- When you are in a call and you don’t speak, mute your microphone.
- During an on-line meeting, don’t worry about the background noise coming from your kids. We all understand.
- You are doing your best managing the demands of being a full-time parent and a full-time employee. We all understand
- During a conference call, should elders or kids need your help, please don’t hesitate to excuse yourself. We care
While these rules won’t magically make the sudden shift to remote working a breeze, keeping them in mind can help to work out some of the initial kinks. This is an exceptional time, but it’s also an opportunity for many companies to help their employees get acquainted with remote platforms. In a few weeks, these struggles will result in valuable insights in how to set up infrastructure and a good framework to reflect your organization’s unique needs.
Please, continue to stay home, keep your distance, stay healthy and support on another.
You, we and I – are helping to saves lives!