As the coronavirus has continued to have a massive impact on the world, more and more companies have been forced to move their entire workforce remote.
As the co-CEO of ThirdLove, I can tell you that a month ago, we were not a work-from-home sort of business. If someone needed to, it was fine. But as a culture, we had hundreds of employees showing up to our various offices in San Francisco, Chico, California, and Argentina. We would conference team members in via Google Hangouts, and conduct distributed companywide meetings--but all of them were primarily still held in physical offices.
Now, like many other companies, we are 100 percent remote.
Making this adjustment has been quite the learning experience, to say the least.
If your company is in the process of transitioning to being fully remote as well, here are a handful of challenges we faced and how we've worked through them:
1. People need the right setup.
Our Chico office was one of the most difficult to transition because this is where all our fit stylists work.
The challenge here was that these teammates all use multiple monitors and have specific setups in order to do their jobs efficiently -- toggling between different platforms and systems. We had to make sure everyone was able to bring a monitor home with them, and have the equipment they needed in order to still be successful. I've witnessed this same problem with other companies where many people work on a desktop at the office and might not have a personal computer with similar specs to use at home. Or they need to gain an additional license to certain software tools in order to work remotely.
Our San Francisco and Argentina teams were in a similar position -- we gave everyone the option of taking a monitor home with them. Being comfortable in our new "home offices" is hugely important to our teams' health, happiness, and productivity. These are all small details that cannot be overlooked.
2. Standups must happen--more often than ever before.
One of the things we've implemented with our fully remote teams is that every team leader does a daily standup meeting with their team.
The purpose of starting every day with an 8:30 or 9 a.m. video chat is to replicate the feeling of showing up to an office. You walk in, you say, "Hey, good morning" to your fellow colleagues, make small talk, and then you get to work. As simple of a routine as this might be, if you take it away, a lot of people have this sense of not really knowing when their day starts and also feel less connected to the people they work most closely with.
These check-ins also help keep teams on track -- to their daily and weekly goals, and flag any issues or questions that might have taken place by swinging by a desk in the office. This has been a crucial practice to our success in going remote -- and we do the same thing at the end of the day, around 5 p.m., signaling to people that the day is done.
3. Be patient, and show your face.
As amazing as Slack is as a tool, or the fact that we can videoconference with people all over the world via Google Hangouts, the truth is, these tools aren't the same as face-to-face interaction. That's why we ask everyone to join and show themselves on their screen. It's not as good as face-to-face, but it is better than just hearing a voice.
Communication is different over text or video. When you Slack someone and they don't respond, then what? Or, if you're on a video call with 10 other people, someone's microphone might keep cutting out. Or two people might keep talking over each other because of latency. These might seem like small, almost insignificant obstacles, but compound them across dozens, or hundreds, or for some companies, thousands of employees, and they become big functionality problems within the organization.
The best solution is to just be patient and compassionate with people in the process. Realize this is an adjustment for everyone. Help people learn how to use these new tools. Empower your leaders to talk to people about how they might be feeling suddenly working full time from home. Use these ideas to make your company and your team stronger.
We are all navigating this new world together.