Here’s What We’ve Learned From Our First Two Weeks Working From Home
These are unprecedented times, but amongst the uncertainty, there’s one silver lining: We’re all in this together. Like many businesses across the globe, ClearCompany has sent our team home to work from a safe distance. The transition from a shared office to an at-home workspace isn’t always easy, but we’re discovering new ways to make it better every day. We’ve asked our colleagues and coworkers to share ways they found success while working and managing remotely.
On March 6th, ClearCompany started a strategic exercise to understand what all of our teams nationwide would need, should we need to all work remotely at the same time. We all committed to 6 business days working from home, with the option to come into an office should there be something we could not complete from home (if you are interested in the framework that we used to make that decision, you can find it here). Our employees worked out any kinks in that week, and have remained remote ever since. At this point, many of us feel like old pros at business continuity and remote. In fact, in the last two weeks alone, we’ve:
· Sent 97,287 Slacks (up by 50% per day)
· Conducted 1,371 Zoom meetings including 6,761 participants
· Onboarded new hires completely remotely — way to go HR team!
· Shared 46 new employee (dog) photos on our Slack #doggos channel
· Shared more new recipes than we know what to do with
Here’s what else the ClearCompany team is learning and implementing while we adjust to our new settings:
How Are You Ensuring Business Continuity?
Having clear goals to work towards both personally and for reports/teams is more important than ever. With so much uncertainty, it can be hard to make progress because you’re not sure what’s important or simply distracted by what is going on in the world. While it’s vital that we change some of our routines right now, it’s also essential that we continue others. Continuing our normal work — with a little more personal space — both ensures that we weather this storm successfully and can help personally to avoid becoming overwhelmed by concerns. What do we want to have accomplished as individuals, teams, companies by the time this is over? The more we can do now, the faster we will all recover later.
— Colin Kingsbury, President and Co-Founder
ClearCompany Tip: You probably have more apps and tools to help with this than you think. In addition to our own software (Goal Tracking, Social Recognition, and Manager Feedback specifically have been instrumental) we use a variety of tools to maintain productivity and prioritization. We’ve listed just a few below for you.
- G Suite
- Trello/Monday/Cloud Coach
How Are You Keeping Teammates Engaged?
Weekly video check-ins with every member of my team, and daily conversations about non-work related topics — like what the best homemade meal has been — have helped to keep our morale up! We’ve tried to find a few tasks outside of our normal day-to-day to help keep everyone engaged while still advancing our learning. Focusing on updating our learning center has been a great task for us to work on.
— Anna DeFazio, Manager of Customer Support
ClearCompany Tip: Video conferencing services can be used for so much more than work-related meetings! In the past few weeks, we’ve hosted events throughout the day. See below for a few specific ideas that we have really enjoyed:
- Virtual Team Coffee Breaks or Happy Hours — come with a beverage of snack of your choice and chat about your day.
- Company Cribs — we are all probably seeing more of one another’s living space than is typical, why not expand it to a complete tour! Interested employees can volunteer to give coworkers a fun tour of their spaces.
- Pet Planet — animal lovers are working alongside our pets and want to see more of our coworkers’ furry (or scaly!) family than just the occasional pup traipsing through a meeting!
- Virtual Dance Party/Dance Class — we are lucky to have quite a few multi-talented ClearCompany-ers on staff! HR Business Partner Savannah also owns a dance studio and has volunteered to get us all moving one evening next week. Pro tip — this is one place where sharing video is not expected.
- Kiddo Korner — with schools closing, parents of children of all ages are looking for ways to keep their youngest family members engaged. Opening a video conference line and letting the little ones interact, show off art projects, etc. for a bit can be a nice break for everyone.
What Have Been Some Unexpected Challenges?
Expect for Slacking/instant messaging to become a big draw on your day to day time so that you can adequately follow up with reports on their questions/issues/concerns. This has meant for me that I’ve had to schedule deliverables for myself out a little further than normal to ensure my availability for my team on the day-to-day. I’ve helped alleviate this by proactively reaching out to my employees daily to facilitate conversation during times I’ve become available.
— Anonymous Contributor
ClearCompany Tip: If you are a Slack user, you can set up a calendar integration so that it not only reminds you of upcoming meetings, it also automatically changes your status to lets others know you are not available to immediately respond.
What Do You Think is the Most Important Thing To Do Right Now?
It’s important to keep in mind that you likely have extroverts and introverts on your team, and they may be experiencing very different emotions as they transition to work from home. Introverts are more likely to be enjoying the sudden increase in alone time, where extroverts might be feeling isolated and craving human connection. Think carefully about where your direct reports may fall on this spectrum and adjust your management style accordingly — and if you’re not sure you should ask them directly how they are feeling!
— Katie Bond, VP of Operations
ClearCompany Tip: You’ve probably seen more than a few similar articles popping up about remote work best practices. Nearly all of them will tell you to use a video conferencing service and share your video for as many meetings as possible. We agree! Especially for manager to employee one-on-one meetings, facial expressions and body language will help managers understand so much more about how their employees are doing than a phone conversation alone.
How Are You Staying Connected Despite Long Distance?
By hosting virtual office hours. Use an open video conference meeting for your team to come and go! This has proven helpful for answering quick questions, maintaining an open dialog with your team and as a forum for informal communications while remote. And don’t forget about daily end-of-day check-ins with your whole team to recap wins, share learnings, vent, etc. This will help to maintain/foster team bonds — especially if your team has new members!
— Tim Landry, Manager of Sales
ClearCompany Tip: We have quite a few new hires on our Sales Team right now, and managers have started leaving a conferencing link open at most times during the day when they don’t have another meeting. The team knows to hop onto the line at any point they have a question they need help working through, helping with need many new hires have to turn to a work neighbor and ask a quick question.
What Do You Recommend For People Unfamiliar with Working From Home?
Protect your time by clarifying work hours with family and colleagues and create a designated workspace (we really didn’t need this guest bedroom anyway).
— Kate Stratman, Account Manager
ClearCompany Tip: Each member of our Implementation Team has started saying hello and goodbye on their team Slack channel at the beginning and end of each day. With employees in almost every time zone in the U.S., this lets coworkers know when colleagues are available and helps everyone protect their time away from their laptops!
ClearCompany is here to ensure your business continues to operate smoothly and your employee needs are met during this period where there is a lot of unknown still ahead of us.
Download our resource bundle for help working and managing remotely, and read the ClearCompany Business Continuity Plan to learn how we’re protecting our people and protecting our business through an unpredictable time, and how it can help you do the same.
This article was originally published on the ClearCompany blog.