My name is Ishay, I am a startup advisor with vast experience in innovation and startup mentoring in Israel and Europe accelerators such as Horizon 2020, TechStars and MassChallenge.
I also manage Initech, an Israeli-based outsource software development company with 20 members on board, and TimelinesAI – our side project that helps to improve the efficiency of our communication with clients. Our team at Initech includes 15 members that work from the office every day, 3 members that come to office only 1-2 times per week and 2 fully remote employees. TimelinesAI has a team of 5 team members from around the world.
Thanks to my experience managing work on TimelinesAI, I already had a grasp on the tools that are helpful to run a completely remote team. It helped me to transfer 15 developers and managers to work from home and didn’t hurt our work with clients along the way!
The essentials you need to tackle to shift your to remote work in no time
The Covid-19 outbreak pushed us to move to a fully remote model in less than a week.
The example of how China fought the disease taught us that people will most likely be locked down at their homes, so we would need to adapt them to working from home as fast as possible. Our main priority was to maintain the health of our employees and the status quo of our work with clients. These two tasks are hard to tackle at once, right?
That’s why we included two training days before making a complete shift.
It enabled us to account for all sorts of unexpected issues ahead of time. Like:
- People forgetting that we switched to remote work and arriving at the office;
- People forgetting essential devices at the office;
- People having trouble to organize their daily routine and reporting;
- People lacking specific tools or apps to make their work from home efficient
As we got to solve these problems before the complete transition, it made the actual shift a lot smoother.
The main challenge was to make sure our team members have everything they need to efficiently work from home. Frankly, it is the easiest part to tackle when you have the list of essentials at hand. Here it is:
Organized and proper communication is essential for remote work success. In-office communication is based on both formal (meetings) and informal occasions(lunch/coffee breaks).
In remote mode, you need to redefine the communication and introduce new rules to your team. This includes providing tools and defining when and what to communicate. The unexpected problem with these tools may include the learning curve, so in the ideal case, you would need some time for your team to adopt them.
Since you probably don’t have that extra time, I suggest using the communication tools that your team already knows well or that simplifies their work by a large margin
For efficient communication at Initech, we use Slack (internal chats), Zoom (meetings), Gmail (for outbound communication) and TimelinesAI (for instant sharing of important messages from our clients).
As an alternative, you can use tools that your team already knows well, like Whatsapp.
For example, you could create WhatsApp groups per team/project and a general group for wide organizational announcements. Switch your morning standup meetings to Whatsapp calls, make sure that everyone posts their to-do list in the morning and the summary when they finish on a daily basis. Here’s how we do it on Slack:
Sharing access to the information
Make sure that every team member has access to all the documents and files they need to work efficiently on their tasks. I recommend using Google Drive, Dropbox or OneDrive – pick any tool that your team has the most experience with.
In case you need to exchange access to important messages from Whatsapp or email, use TimelinesAI. It helps us to stay updated on business communication in our company and be aware of any changes in relations with our clients:
Make sure your team members have everything they need for efficient work from home. Keep in mind that there is a big difference between occasional work from home and full-time day to day work for a long time. Consider allowing your team members using their personal devices if needed + allocate some budget to allow them to buy essential things (cameras, headset, etc).
I work from home, using a webcam, a laptop, and two monitors since it helps me to manage more things at once.
People are social creatures. Some of us may feel more stressed and disconnected since we lose access to most of our social circles. Sudden shifts to work from home also ruins the daily routine and habits.
It may be harder for you or your employees to focus and make productive work. There is a big difference between working occasionally from home and staying at home all day long for an unknown period.
I suggest giving your team members more attention these days. Invest time in 1-on-1 calls, use video to add a personal touch. People will react differently to the shift in their workflow.
For instance, we have a developer named Alex who asked to provide him with the extra workload during his weekday as he wanted to escape spending more time with his wife.
We have other people who seem to slack off or get lost in their tasks. Such team members need more control from your side or their managers. No need to get angry, as people are not used to such a format of work. Feel free to remind the purpose of such conditions and the possible outcomes if they don’t keep up to the workflow. Feel free to even be pushier at times. Just remember there are people to the other side of your screen:
If people are clearly not efficient in their duties remotely, it is ok. Remember not everyone is built for remote work. You might consider giving them unpaid/paid vacation for now and focus on the folks that are efficient in the current format.
Take this situation as a chance to make your business stronger and discover new ways to support your customers, clients and team members.
I hope this list will prove useful to guide you through the change in the format of your work. If you have questions, please feel free to reach out – I will be glad to help you!
And for people who decide to try TimelinesAI to stay updated about the communication with their clients – I am ready to provide you with the free and full access to the app during the quarantine.
Stay strong and stay safe everyone!