16 March 2020
In line with the latest recommendations of the Dutch government, all Sparkies were requested to go home Thursday afternoon and continue their work from there. Working outside the office is nothing new for Sparkies, but usually this means working at the client. Therefore, on Fridays we all come to the office to keep in touch, have face-to-face meetings, lunch updates, team check-outs and of course drinks at the end of the day. In the current situation, these meetings all became virtual as well. During the first fully remote Friday lunch update last week, Sparkies shared tips and creative ideas to ensure not only productivity within the team, but also happiness at work in the new situation.
Turn on your camera
Having to resort to virtual communication brings about some challenges, as the biggest advantage of the face-to-face interactions is the availability of several communication cues at once. According to some researchers, nonverbal communication cues like tone of voice, facial expressions and gestures account for up to 60–70 percent of human communication. Besides meeting in person, channels that convey as many of these cues as possible are video or voice calls. Even though it seems daunting at first, make sure to turn on your camera when reaching out. Resist overusing Whatsapp chats or email conversations as they lack the personal touch that other channels provide.
- Over-communicate: Call often and set up more check-ins and meetings than you’re used to. This can be a 1-on-1-coffee moment over a video call in lieu of your office habit. During these check-ins, clearly spell out goals, roles and expectations, and add more people to your messages.
- Keep it transparent: Clarify personal situations in all new communication and discuss the limitations and preferences of remote work with your team. Working 100% from home is new to all of us. Let’s laugh together about meowing cats and other distractions that might bring.
- Make meetings more personal: Use video and take more time for personal chat and updates.
- Create remote-first experiences: Think of the most lonely and remote person first and handle their needs, then work back to the rest of the group.
- Set channel purposes: Define with your team which channels are used for which type of information. Keep general information separate from urgent updates.
- Keep it productive and sane: Keep the usual work schedule, and limit distractions. If you can, set up a dedicated work spot. It can be difficult to “sign off” after the workday when working from home because there is no physical border you pass when leaving work. To reduce this effect, avoid working in your pajamas and try to log off consciously in the evening.
- Test and learn: Try out new ways of cooperation, by trying out the features offered by the technologies that are available at your company. Give yourself some time to figure out and reflect on what type of remote-working style works best for you and your team.