The pandemic swooped in and did away with all of our grand plans.
Was it a short outing in the hills that you had planned for your organization?
Or did you want to fly abroad to sit down with some angel investors?
Until the situation gets better, we are going to stay inside and work from our homes.
For most of us, remote working was not something that we had planned for.
Bringing in new processes, using new tools, and interacting in different ways— it would not be wrong to call it a drastic change.
Getting used to such a scene is bound to take its share of time and sacrifices.
Just like everyone else, we had to figure out exactly how to make this work for ourselves.
Here is a short account of what happened after the lockdown and how we manage to stay productive, right out of our homes, as a team.
No more commute: Staying inside begins
As the number of cases rose, it became clear that coming to the office to work was a direct invitation to danger. Even before the lockdown became official in India, we decided to stay at our homes and work remotely.
The last day that we did gather, we laid down a few things to ease the whole process of working away from office.
- Sticking to a routine: This would help in being productive on its own, without any triggers.
- Overcommunication: What you are working on (and whether you are working) is quite clear in an office setting, but not when you are away. Periodically sharing what we’re up to brings in the necessary transparency. Everyone gets to know what the other person is working on, leaving no room for misunderstandings.
- Being empathetic: Everyone has a different home and a lifestyle. Also, shifting to a remote working style would take time. Giving each other the space to discover what works for them was necessary.
Sticking to the process, and making it more efficient
Outlining what tools we use to communicate and collaborate would not make any sense— there are too many articles out there that cover that, plus it really is never about the tools.
It is about the mindset.
One thing that became very clear was that collaboration was not as easy as it was. In the office, all it took was going to where someone sat and talking to them. From our homes, not so straightforward.
Being available and responsive are two things that become an urgent requirement if you still want all projects to be as alive as they were while everyone worked under the same roof.
Those attributes sound like something an app would have. Whether it is the fact that we develop so many of them or that it was the need of the hour, functioning like a structured app seemed efficient.
Remote working is good. But, what about remote management?
Before the pandemic, remote working was always looked upon as something unwieldy. Something that would just add complications and almost everyone of us had avoided exploring exactly how.
Unfortunately, we could not avoid that much longer. Each one of us got a first-hand taste of how it feels to work remotely.
And some naysayers would point out that ‘working’ in and of itself was never the issue; it is its management.
But that stems from not something that makes remote working inefficient but from management practices that are ineffective.
We were lucky in this aspect as we had implemented OKRs in our organization quite a while ago.
Physical or remote, the OKRs help us set realistic goals and track their progress. It shows us exactly how much we’d need to nudge someone to get something done.
Another thing that we adopted quickly was communicating more.
When you want something to get done, give more details than you usually would.
Too much information might be a burden but at least the worker would be well-armed to take the right decisions.
Getting into the groove: Things we accomplished while working remotely
Fun on Fridays, Home Edition
Every friday at our office, we would step out of our work and dedicate ourselves to a fun activity. Mostly to promote team-bonding but especially to remember that office is not always about serious work.
Week after week, we did many things including drawing blindfolded and doing a bottle fun.
It had been quite sometime since we had done that, so we decided to do one virtually.
The results did not let us down.
We had a lot of fun and some of us got to let out our creative spirits.
Adding a new member to our family
Working remotely is fine, but have you hired remotely yet?
While many companies are cutting costs and letting people go (which is just purely unfortunate), we are glad that we are able to move forward despite challenges.
Plus, the more hands on deck, the easier it is to row against these heavy tides.
All the time saved by the lack of commute, where does it all go?
Netflix! Doing the things that we have wanted to do for a while.
Some of us have taken up reading and some of us have some birds that we can play with.
All in all, we’re not just productive during our work hours but also during our free hours.
Hobbies are essential during these times.
All of us are cooped up in our homes and unsure about what is going to happen. This building anxiety just drives our energy up and doing something like drawing is bound to help a lot of people.
Spending time with family while working remotely
We are at home with our loved ones and this is the best chance to spend more time with them.
All of the hours that we used to spend on ironing our clothes and travelling back and forth our offices are right in our hands, and besides hobbies, the number one way to bust stress is to bond with your family.
Help your wife or mum with some of the housework and maybe even cooking. If you have kids, then playtime got a huge extension!
Remote working is the new normal
While this phrase is going to go down in history as the most used phrase in 2020, it is undeniably true. Working remotely or from home is everyone’s reality and many people think that post-pandemic, it might just continue in several places.
Jack Dorsey has made working from home permanent for his employees at Square and Twitter. If that is not loud enough, then consider this: the latest Gallup survey states that almost 53% of employees worldwide would prefer working remotely even after the pandemic.
There are several advantages to having remote-work as a viable, ever-open option.
To come and work in the same office, employees either have to live nearby or commute for hours. Remote working would mean a direct saving of money/time.
Hiring all of a sudden gains the biggest benefit— when you open up to remote working, you can hire anyone from any part of the world.
Other pros are renting a smaller office (or not having one at all), flexible working hours, and an increase in personal productivity.
What’s there to not like about remote working?
Summing up: Working from home is different but okay
The pandemic is not forever. But it served as a catalyst for working remotely, which, by all accounts, is here to stay.
Even during this temporary run, the benefits have been completely clear.
We aren’t saying that working from home has been all smooth. We’ve had a few rough patches here and there, and we definitely miss hanging out with the fam under the same roof.
Until we do meet, we will have to manage with what we have.
The only way to do so is by adopting the right mindset.
Because tools can never replace empathy.