Whether you’ve been working from home a lot, a little, or never had the opportunity (or desire) to give it a go, you’ve been thrown into full-time working remote life. With little to no prep for life at home, people are having to figure out how to balance work and life when they are both originating from the same physical location. There are definitely some great things about working remote, and some not so great things. Here’s our take on how you can optimize your time and maybe improve company culture while working remotely.
The Good About Working Remote
Working remote has been a blessing for many introverts and those who hadn’t quite gotten around to updating their spring wardrobe. Remote work has been climbing in popularity and thankfully has some research and best practices surrounding the practice already. With stay-at-home orders, organizations and businesses were forced to make remote life for their staff happen literally overnight. Teams became focused on working toward creating a remote work culture. It’s amazing that when you have to do something, how you can make it happen with whatever resources you have at your disposal.
Older research also showed that employees who were working remote had lower rates of absenteeism (think – when you call in sick, but aren’t). Productivity and engagement rates had increases, and cost savings on overhead expenses benefited both employees and employers.
The Bad About Working Remote
Businesses that resisted allowing the benefit of working remotely, or working from home (WFH) as we call it, often did so based on assumptions that employees weren’t working as hard. Distractions and the inability to see exactly what team members are doing gave some businesses the heebie-jeebies. On the flip side, those organizations that thrived on collaboration found it a struggle to stay on the same page and to get those creative juices flowing over the internet. Side effects of partially remote teams resulted in the “meeting after the meeting,” where big decisions would be reversed or decisions made in the hallway after a big meeting. The result is remote workers find themselves left out of the loop and often working on something no longer relevant.
Company culture relying heavily on inside jokes, water cooler chats, and lunches together, suffered when work went viral (see what we did there?). Is there even a way to improve company culture when your team is working remote?
How to Optimize Remote Work Culture
At StringCan, our team has been supportive of a flexible working schedule. I like to WFH on Thursday’s to make sure I can focus on my financial tasks and to minimize distractions. Some team members who go on trips once a year to work beachside or from a skyscraper. We want to make sure we honor the traveling spirit of the team while also offering amazing service to our clients, so we’ve been offering a flexible working environment for some time. The practice has served us well as our team has been fully remote for nearly two months now.
Some of the ways we pivoted to optimize our time WFH was to schedule a daily check in with the team, in addition to our Monday planning and Friday retro meetings. Meetings are done via video chat – and after a few weeks things got a bit stale. So now on Fridays we have Zoom theme days like vacation pics, animals, food, etc. It’s been really fun remembering what vacation looks like. We also found that we were getting stagnant and working from our chairs from 8-8. In April we challenged our team to walk/run 1 million steps. Everything at StringCan is a competition (cough, Jay). And we crushed our steps goal with one week left to go!
We found that scheduling weekly video chats with our clients gave us a chance to connect, and to help them navigate these trying times. Humans are wired for connection and helping lift each other up is what gets us up in the morning. We know how hard this is on people, and for many different reasons. Working remotely can be a blessing in disguise. You can see your team in their pjs, watch them interact with their housemates, see their new home, and to keep the art of connection alive.
We’d love to hear from you about what you’re doing to make working remotely work for you.