Written by Miguel Van Damme
As you might have heard by now, Belgium is entering a new period of mandatory home working to slow down the spread of the Covid-19 virus. To help you implement this different way of working, I want to share some of the best practices inspired from remote-first companies such as Buffer, Alan, Zapier, Gitlab, etc. Did you know, for example, that Gitlab ($2+Bn revenue) is the first remote only company that is listed on the Nasdaq?
The paradox of remote working is that while it is an incredible source of personal emancipation and collective performance, it can also present some issues for the mental health of your employees. The main factors that could be affecting the mental health of remote workers are the imbalance between personal and professional life, the lack of support and loneliness, as well as poor communication.
The suggested best practices in this article aim to maintain the bond between the employees all while preserving the mental health of everyone. Think about it, who does not feel terrible after a full day of video calls? Keep reading to know more about the 8 best practices I selected just for you!
1. Random one-to-one’s Mandatory weekly random one-to-ones will replace the spontaneous coffee machine discussions. The guidelines should be: 20-30 minutes, no pre-defined topic, and literally anyone with anyone.
2. AMA or AAA The second Ask-Me-Anything (AMA) session at BrightWolves session turned into an AAA (Ask-Anyone-Anything). Concretely, during this one-hour session with your team, participants list questions upfront that are answered by Management or the CEO (AMA). We experimented within our team of 30 people with an AAA. It was a big success as everyone spoke up. Senior consultants, for example, asked new joiners what they learned during their first project. I recommend appointing a facilitator for the sessions.
3. Replace collective video meetings by written meetings Most meetings are a terrible waste of time. Video meetings are even worse. They pull participants out of their productive work to dial into a random unprepared discussion. Instead, shift to written discussions. The organiser of the meeting outlines context, options and recommendations and asks for feedback. The best tool used for this is Github issues, but other platforms, incl. the very popular Teams can do the job.
4. Focus on output and share your weekly achievements Share your weekly PPP update on a dedicated channel on Teams or Slack. The PPP – Progress-Problems-Plan – is a concise outline of the past week. Sharing output of the week ensures that everyone is aware of what others do, and eventually can suggest solutions/ideas.
5. Ensure that there are weekly 1o1s A weekly 30-45 min discussion with a coach / manager should be default in normal times. In remote setting, this is a must-have to ensure that alignment and human connection is maintained.
6. Virtual board games evenings This was a hit during the covid-19 lockdown in March. Organized during the evening, most team members had a lot of fun to play with each other games such as Monopoly, Risk, Clue, etc.
7. Real live challenges Organize a real live challenge and have everyone share their progress. This can be a bike/run challenge, cooking challenge, etc. There are no limits. Putting a collective “prize” if a certain milestone is achieved adds a competitive dimension. My recommendation: limit this to 1 week to avoid “challenge-fatigue”.
8. Virtual aperitifs or Pairing for lunch Some colleagues live alone, in a small apartment. Offering the opportunity to eat virtually together for lunch or having aperitif at the end of the day can make a difference.
That’s it. I hope you enjoyed the ideas !
Sources: 1. Gitlab makes remote working work – https://www.cnbc.com/2020/07/18/gitlab-worked-remotely-with-over-1000-employees-before-coronavirus.html 2. Zapier – Random 1o1s – https://zapier.com/blog/recreating-random-encounters-in-remote-work/?utm_source=Iterable&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=itbl-gbl-eng-email-blog_automate-self-care_1549852 3. Fast – Building Better Businesses By Closing The Happiness Gap – https://www.fastcompany.com/1679491/building-better-businesses-by-closing-the-happiness-gap