8 simple essentials for remote work

Slack-collaboration

One of the biggest culture positives we have developed at TrusTrace is the liberty for people to connect from home from time to time. If I have to be honest, I have never been a great advocate of the remote culture, until I encountered a situation myself, where I had to be remote for a couple of days each week. I am grateful to the company to have allowed me to do so and I have truly felt the benefits of working from home. 

We are a relatively young team and for some of us, this model of work where the entire team is distributed at the same time, is totally new. While there are numerous articles available on the internet on this topic, I want to list a few points based on my own experiences in TrusTrace – which will allow our people to connect and make sense easily. Most or all of these will apply for others who work from remote as well.

Communicate – It’s a no-brainer. The biggest hindrance for distributed teams to operate effectively towards a single goal is improper communication. Too much information is better than no information on any day. Never make assumptions, put things forward in black and white. The truth is, no official message can be treated as spam, so it is always a good practice to over-communicate every single time.

Practice Screen-share – It is a lot easier to look directly than to imagine and visualise. I’m a huge fan of Slack as a collaboration tool. Slack voice calls are mostly of top quality and their screen-sharing facility is one of the simplest I have ever experienced. Use these extensively, screen-share at will – sort things out in a jiffy – rather than multiple back and forth conversations.

Ensure you have both a reliable internet connection & a Power back-up – Remote work will fail miserably without reliable connectivity. It’s extremely important for you to have a solid internet connection that will be 95% up and a back-up connection which will support you during the other 5%. Identify places where you can go and work when either the internet or power lets you down. Friends’ houses [provided they consider you to be safe], coffee shops are a few options we should have explored about already. There are few things more annoying than a call filled with breakages and disturbances – which leads to another essential that follows.

Lock yourself up just like how you would in an office cabin – To truly replicate office work, let go the comforts of sitting on a bed. Have a proper desk setup for yourself in your room and ensure people do not walk in and walk out frequently. It is even better if you strongly place a rule of knocking the door before entering – even for spouses, kids and other family members.

Join meetings early – When we are at office, it is easy for someone to go around and coordinate meetings. However, the situation is different when everyone is remote – which makes it important for all of us to join meetings a couple of minutes at least in advance. If it is a Google Meet invite, get in directly once the reminder pops out 10 minutes in advance – and wait. If the team relies on slack calls, drop a note to the channel and initiate a call yourself a few minutes before the scheduled start time. Waiting in an office boardroom for people to join is tough enough, waiting in a remote location with the earphones plugged is tougher.

Do not read too much into the tone of messages – There exists a high likelihood of a tone being interpreted differently when something is spoken in person and when the same gets communicated via an instant messenger. Do not place a lot of emphasis on the tone and absorb what is communicated alone. On 99% of those occasions, ignoring the tone suits the need.

Be reachable – Always be reachable through your primary phone number. If you have an alternate number, keep it shared with the team. Instant messaging may not solve the need in critical situations. Provide additional options like accessibility through WhatsApp/Skype calls, if applicable.

Stick to a schedule – It’s easy to drift away from a normal schedule when you are connecting from home, thereby reducing your effectiveness. Do not make that mistake – Consider the remote work days as just the usual ones, stick to your routine of breakfast, lunch and tea breaks.

Since none of us have a great idea on how long the impact of the Coronavirus would last, it is imperative for all of us to be prepared for what could be the new normal – Working from remote. To continue to be effective, let’s try and follow some of these – I have seen them work well in the past!

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