Learning from over a decade of effective remote working
Because of the Covid-19 pandemic many companies are forced to find solutions to work at home. We at Lemonade think of ourselves as experts in this field since we are a company that has people working all over the world (Argentina, Belgium, Spain and Sweden). We have offices with flexible hot desks and most of the employees already work on average 2 days at home per week. We have experience with the kind of tools and the best way to communicate and would like to share these 5 tips with everyone.
1. Quality regular communication
Communication is key! When working from home it is not always easy to stay connected and aware of what every one of the team is doing. We have daily updates where the meeting does a (virtual) stand-up to chat with the team. It is a call to establish what everyone is working on, the possible blocking items and identify if anyone needs help.
Most of these meetings are done in Slack, which is a great tool to chat, talk or video call with multiple people. It offers the possibility to create multiple channels so that teams can have their own place to communicate without bothering others. It is also a great way to make sure that the important conversations are not cluttered with off-topic conversations as these can have their own channel and anyone interested can join. This type of feature is one of the main reasons for using this kind of tool because it allows Lemonade to spread one of its most important values, open communication.
Another advantage of this way of communication is that it is asynchronous. This means that someone can send a message with a question or other information and the receiving person can look at it when they have time. For example for Lemonade this is helpful because there are people working all around the world and in different time zones. This improves productivity as they are not interrupting their work to answer someone which is the case with in-person contact.
Similar tools as Slack are Microsoft Teams, Google Hangouts, Skype and so on.
2. The right project tools
Working further on the previous topic of knowing what everyone is doing there are some great tools to get a clear overview such as Jira. Having a clear Jira board (or similar like Trello, Asana, ...) to ensure everyone on the team knows who is doing what and have a clear overview of what tasks are left and have priority. This is not only useful for when you work remotely but in general to split the work and not leave behind tasks that could be important.
3. Effective document sharing
When working from home, it is very important to ensure the team has all the information and resources they need to get the work done. For this, we believe it is very important to have a central place to share documents online that can be accessed from anywhere. It is really easy to have a Confluence, Google Drive, SharePoint/OneDrive to store/keep manuals or documents in one place. This way people can be more autonomous and don’t need to go and ask others every time they need something. Lemonade has a lot of documents with walkthroughs, guidelines, or WikiHows to follow when something doesn’t work. This way you avoid a chat that is overflowing with questions and keep you from your work.
It is a great way to work on documents together. You can add feedback and comments to documents that are shared so that the whole team can check this
4. Have a break involving the extended team
When you are in the office you have these spontaneous chats at the coffee machine or the social contact during lunch break. When working from home this is not possible… or is it? We at Lemonade have created special Slack channels for a fun time. A virtual coffee break where people can invite some colleagues to have a short chat as a little break, a room for the usual beers and games on Friday evening, a channel for fun activities during quarantine, and so on.
We use Zoom for video calls and skribbl.io for a multiplayer drawing and guessing game.
Not only taking a break in between work is important, but because you are working where you live the separation of your work and your life is less present. Therefore checking on the people who work for your team is essential. It is important to have a good work-life balance and Lemonade works hard on this. It ensures that people don’t burnout which is becoming more and more common within society.
When new tools are used there is a try-out period to see if everyone likes them and finds them useful. Was it what we were looking for? Was it easy to use? Were there any problems? Afterward, everyone can give their feedback and can bring ideas for new or other tools.
This doesn’t only apply for tools; feedback is essential and useful across the business. For example when anyone starts working with us we ensure that they know a bit about the team structure. That way, if they ever have any issues, they can contact the right person to talk about.
There is one last important aspect of working remotely on a daily basis. To make the 5 steps work you need to have trust within the organization. This is very important for Lemonade, who as a business do not want to control the individual team members or track exactly what they do and how long it takes them. They build a strong basis of communication and trust. This way the team that work at Lemonade feels that they are trusted, enabled and given responsibility. When this is obtained the synergy of the team is good and there is no specific need to work together in an office. When there is good communication, trust, and people that are used to working together with the right tools there is no reason to not have the flexibility of working remotely.
Read our blog about working internationally on big projects. Many of our projects involve international teams of people, both with clients and internally, and things like cultural differences need to be considered.
Written by Lotte Stockmans
Intern Business Development at Lemonade