Working from home is very different to working from an office. If you have
never done it before then here are a few points that may be important to
People have a natural comfort level along a spectrum from introvert to
extrovert. When working from home this can be a curse or a blessing depending
on where you are on that spectrum and how your living arrangements are.
Important to keep in mind is that social interactions are an active thing once remote,
one has to make an effort to interact, it does not happen by itself anymore.
This means, check in with your colleges, make sure they are ok and make an
effort to communicate with everyone. Some will do that naturally but some
wont so don't forget your team mates.
Asynchronous communication can speed up your work immensely. Embrace it and
don't try to replicate your office workflow. You can totally still run meetings
in half-hour slots all day but productivity will increase massively once you
start to embrace fewer meetings and avoid synchronous communication where
possible. Use tools to record decisions, have all material that is needed for a
decision available in advance so people have time to look at it and can think
about it. If there is a need for meetings do them at the beginning and end of
the workday so that the rest of the day has no planned interruptions. This
makes it easier for people that have issues with context switching and
increases their productivity.
Use an internal chat tool like Slack to communicate. This is both a blessing and
a curse as it can very quickly become a super noisy place. So make sure to
educate everyone on which channels are important and which can be ignored. If
you currently have no internal chat and still rely on email as your primary
comms channel then learn the following from shipping. On the water radio is the primary
comms channel because it can be received by everyone. This is important in an
emergency as a phone call can only reach one party, a radio call can reach
everyone. If you plan to run your company remotely then think of every message
as a radio call. Make communication easy, central and a core part of your
company otherwise there will be many sinking ships. Also, there needs to be a
place for chit chat and cat pictures, it's vital for team morale!
Write stuff down, find a documentation platform and use it. Things that are not
written down in a way that they can be accessed from home are not available to those
who need them. Institutional knowledge where you wander over to Jane and ask
her won't work if Jane is not online at the moment. This stalls progress and
reduces productivity. Document everything and try to make information as easy
to find and to use as possible.
Many tools work, many are good enough, trying to find the right tool for months
is not how you can quickly react to a new world. Use anything, learn from it
and move to something else once you know why the current tool is not good
enough. I am as guilty as many trying to find the perfect tool, let me tell
you, it does not exist but there are tons of tools out there that are good
Rethink your infrastructure. I ran companies entirely off public
infrastructure, no internal servers whatsoever, no internal office
infrastructure, no VPN. It is possible and dirt cheap. Try to embrace a
completely changed office IT infrastructure that has been around for about a
decade and may not have trickled down into your company yet. Now might be a
good time to look into that.
Finally, trust the people around you. This is in my view the most important
part. If you can't trust the people in your team and in your company then you
have already lost. Trust is vital in a remote environment otherwise it becomes
incredibly tedious for everyone involved. Here is a fun little game I have
teams play to increase the level of trust they have amongst them:
Set up a video chat and work out 10 things everyone on the chat has in
common. It sounds like a silly and trivial thing but I have seen it
transform teams significantly and encourage you to give it a go.
These are only a few things that came to mind that I have learned running remote
companies for over a decade. If anyone thinks this is helpful then I'll write
more in depth on certain topics. Even better, ask questions and I'll try to
answer them or find people that are more qualified than me to answer them.