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Why are so many companies still not working efficiently remotely? First of all, they did not establish uniform tools and procedures for all teams. Secondly, they conduct many hours of inefficient video conferences and individual conversations. Thirdly, they continue their email communication. So, how to strengthen the workflow and internal and external communication? Here are some of the tips we used in Neontri and they worked great!
As you probably know, we recently opened an office in the USA. Even before that, we have started thinking about hiring people from other cities. Therefore, we have been changing our approach to remote work. With part of the team in the same location and part remote, you can’t rely on face to face communication anymore. As a result, we’ve implemented processes that have worked perfectly in the current epidemic situation. So, what should you apply and keep in mind when managing your employees' remote work?
Step 1: Select tools, apply procedures, assign responsibilities
The first challenge was to unify development processes and tools for all our projects. It’s not as easy that you might think if you have different teams working for different clients, that have different standards. So, you need to map your core communication and management tools. In our case, this is Slack, Google Meet, Jira and Confluence. Each of them covers the most important needs at every stage of our work.
You should entrust the control of the workflow to Project Managers. They are the ones who manage the team on a daily basis and watch over every detail of the process. The most important thing is to implement and get employees used to the new communication rules in the tools described above.
Then it's time for testing. In our case, due to the coming information on the outbreak of coronavirus in Europe, we have decided to begin our test a little bit earlier. We’ve started with two test days to show what kind of problems our employees or possibly our customers, encounter while working with us. Also, we had to check our performance. The result was more than satisfying.
Step 2: Continue to control the processes, include the distractors
What we often forget about when managing remote work is a range of distractions that can slow down or even stop the workflow. In addition to technical problems such as Internet disruption or VPN problems, you should consider lifestyle issues related to staying at home. These include caring for children who also stay at home, other household duties that often take place in parallel with working time. Ensuring flexibility is one thing, but ensuring the workflow and communication in this area is crucial.
A very important thing that we have created is a special crisis team. It consists of the company's management, project managers and operational managers. They are the communication buffer responsible for informing the whole team. Additionally, they are responsible for solving technical problems and daily monitoring of internal work in the company, but also outside - while contacting clients.
Step 3: Avoid individual communication
While working remotely in Neontri, Slack has become our main channel of internal communication. In addition to extensive chat features, it allows our developers for video conferencing and real-time editing on the presented boards by all callers. This is what we have based our Daily as well as managerial statuses on.
What works best is group communication. Stop sending emails and individual messages. Try to reduce phone calls to a minimum. However, if necessary, set a call agenda and make specific decisions - time is money!
Thanks to these guidelines, everyone has the same state of knowledge at the same time. What's more, it turned out that this form of communication works even better than when we all sat in one office!
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