This post is a simple, online lesson for companies or people who are just starting to work remote and might have difficulties in changing their processes to adapt in the new situation.
This type of seminar is called by our team a TechBooster (Tech Knowledge Booster for Developers), but in essence it is a presentation (~2 hours) with the goal of eliminating reluctance towards certain subjects. This article is a short online version and it should be very easy to read and follow.
Obviously, this time the readers are most likely non-technical so I will try to explain the concepts as simple as possible.
Key concepts to consider for people and companies who are new at working remote:
- 🐵 Communication
- 🕐 Morning meetings and availability
- 📧 Emails
- 📚 Backlog
- ⚙️ Management
- 🧫 Company culture
- 🤔 Trust
- 🎖️ Discipline
- 💬 Feedback
- ⤴️ Flexibility
Please take your time to read each concept and see what parts you can use, without worrying about making it perfect. In this paradigm, the most important part is flexibility: use what works and ditch what doesn’t, in order to move forward as fast as possible.
I will not discuss in this article the pros and cons of working remote, because probably you will have no choice, at least for a short period of time. So the focus will be on the “How?” rather than the “Why?“.
Also, I will write here the tools we are using ourselves or saw in action. For each one of them there are alternatives and complementary solutions, so take whatever works for you.
Communication is the number one concept which can make or break your remote working process. This is valid even when working in an office, but working from home will create its own issues.
Without a good communication process, the productivity will take a big hit in the first few days.
Direct communication is different when you work as a team and there are dedicated tools for the job. The list includes: Slack, Discord, Microsoft Teams, Hangouts Chat, Chanty, Rocket.Chat and I should stop here, because it would already be difficult for a non-tech company to decide which one to use.
The idea is this: you need a tool which is designed to be used by teams. WhatsApp and Skype might look as easy solutions at first, but you will hit some limits at one point or another. Some even use Workplace by Facebook. Anyway, there are a lot of tools which are readily available. Just pick one and make sure all the people are on it. Yes, all of them.
It’s important to have everyone on the same platform, because otherwise they will miss important information and will feel left behind.
What we mainly use: Slack
This is my current recommendation, with observations that there are some limits for the free version (it does not replace email), but for all intents and purposes it should work for most people as it is.
I use it with my team, my students and even with tech communities of over 10.000 members. “It just works” so to speak 😊 .
Complementary tool for audio/video calls: Skype
We use Slack for most written messages and Skype for video calls with multiple members. For one on one audio calls just use the phone. If you have to setup a meeting just use the Meet Now option and you will have a link to share even outside Skype (it has a web option for people without Skype installed)
Microsoft is pushing hard on Microsoft Teams, so you can use it as an alternative, similar with the Google stack.
Some organizations might have licenses for any of these tools, so check them out if you can.
New kid on the block: Discord
Discord is mostly used for gaming and has some nice features, so you might give it a try if you want to use something new.
⚔️ What to do if you are unsure:
- Make it someone’s job (It might be yourself)
- Create a slack workspace for your company
- Invite or add everyone on it
- Install the mobile version of Slack where possible and connect to the workspace
Because it will be a dedicated tool for work related stuff it will come natural to associate the application with work and it will not interfere with your other personal chats.
Once you have a good communication system put in place, the other things will be much easier.
This is all for now, the next chapter will be about Morning meetings and availability.