While many clients have quickly changed their operating models by adopting a remote working response to the coronavirus, at Three6 we’re already looking beyond the lockdown to consider just how many of these changes are here to stay.
For many organisations, even those where working from home on an ad-hoc or frequent basis is the norm, having entire teams consistently working remotely will bring with it some new challenges. But whether you see it as a temporary fix or an inevitable leap towards your future of work, it’s important to recognise the underlying principles that will ensure your success.
As a global consulting firm, we often find ourselves working in different locations, states or even countries – so we’ve got a pretty good idea on how to navigate this change.
At Three6 our remote working approach is designed to live our purpose “To connect and enable people and organisations to thrive and excel in an ever-changing world”. Like all good operating rhythms, it is underpinned by our values. So when it comes to designing our digital working operating rhythm, we have 3 distinct goals that outline how we want to work:
Being connected is important to us, as it aligns with our principles of a ‘people-first approach’ and ‘creating a happy and fun environment’. Working in different locations and following different work schedules means that we are very rarely co-located in the same building, so we recognised the need for a communication channel that would not only allow us to connect to discuss work but one that could also be used to have fun and give us a sense of team commitment and belongingness. We didn’t want to be heavily reliant on channels that were used for formal or more traditional forms of communication, like email, which is why we embraced Slack. Slack is an instant messaging application that allows us to reach out and ask work-related questions, share content for review and just check-in with each other to see how things are going. We have Slack available on all our devices – laptops, tablets and mobile phones. There are many team messaging tools in the market – which application you use is less important than how you use it so our tips staying connected regardless of the tool you use is to:
- Dedicate conversation threads or channels to the sole purpose of having fun and promoting workplace banter, as well as threads that are targeted for specific work projects or activities.
- Avoid email for internal communications at all costs – even when sharing documents try to do so via your instant messaging communication tool.
- Celebrate your wins in real-time through instant messaging.
- All team members need to be committed to responding quickly, particularly when people are asking questions or reaching out for help.
- Try to only use email when you need to involve clients or external parties in your conversation.
Instant messaging tools help you to be connected no matter where you are located and can help teams to feel engaged and supported. However, it’s still important to make time to chat with each other either over the phone or via video conferencing. Virtual coffee catchups are a great way to still connect with your team members or customers and can break up the monotony of staring at a screen or sitting at a desk all day.
Collaboration is not only critical to ensuring the delivery of quality work at a reasonable cost, but it’s also important for bringing teams together and creating opportunities for individual growth and learning. At Three6 we have several tips for working collaboratively:
- Use online video conferencing for all internal meetings, it allows you to engage with each other face-to-face and share your screens to access or update documents in real-time.
- Save all your work (even inflight documents) to a cloud-based shared drive so it is easily accessible to your team. Try not to use personal drives for any work unless it is confidential.
- Conduct virtual walkthroughs of any work you would like team feedback or input on. If your documents are located on a cloud, investigate whether you can have multiple people make changes to the document in real-time.
Transparency is all about being open with each other, about what you are working on and any challenges you may be facing. We have a few tips for creating transparency whilst working remotely.
- Use virtual tools to make your workload visible, such as Trello or Jira. Make time as a team to walk through the tasks you have on your plate (either weekly or bi-weekly), this will also help you to collaborate and make sure you have the right people engaged for meetings, workshops or other work activities.
- If you don’t already run daily team stand-ups or check-ins, then now is the time to start. In an office environment, you can easily see and hear what’s going on within the team. Working remotely makes it difficult to keep people up to date with changes, new information or arising problems. Running a daily stand-up gives team members dedicated time to talk about what’s on for the day, as well as any challenges or problems that may have popped up in the last 24 hours.
- Many of us will be juggling family and work commitments, as many schools and child centres are temporarily shut down over the coming weeks or months. This may mean you or your colleagues may need to follow different work patterns or schedules to juggle conflicting priorities. Be sure to share your work schedules amongst your team – let each other know when you will be available and how you can best be contacted at particular times of the day.
Remember, our priority during this change is to help each other and our community. So most importantly, keep well and take time out of your day to check-in and help each other where you can. Those that can do these well will find it much easier adopting a remote working culture now and into their future of work.