From an epidemic, it was advancing towards becoming a pandemic. We heard a 10, then 20 and before we knew, it had already hit 1000!
Quarantine was turning into a buzzword and countries were gradually going into lockdowns. COVID-19 was gripping the globe.
For an early-stage startup like us, the challenge was mountainous.
We couldn’t risk the lives of our employees. So, continuing to run the office during the time was out of the question. Simultaneously, all the hard work that we put to gain the trust of our customers would be at stake if we stopped functioning altogether.
Now, there was one viable option in front of us; to shift to a remote working model. It meant coordinating an entire team working from home and that would be no breezy task. We knew it, very well that too. Umpteen questions stood before us.
‘How to go about work collaboration?’
‘How do we get notified of work status updates?’
‘How do we exchange ideas?’
‘Hows’, ‘What’s’ and ‘Whys’ followed but we took the plunge whatsoever.
Now, two months down the line, we still work remotely as a team. And how are we faring? Like a well-oiled machine, I would say! There’s no better way to put it!
We are productive than ever now and this news is a ray of hope for all of us during such a difficult time. I will not shy away from saying that this is all a result of quick but proper planning and execution which wouldn’t have been possible without the cooperation of our employees.
How did we Build a Robust Remote Team?
We have never functioned as a remote team. We ideated a lot in-person and as mentioned earlier, the recent course of events had taken us by surprise. Yet, we didn’t quit.
We huddled up, jotted down the ways in which we functioned in our office and contemplated on moving it to an online version. Finally, we did shift almost all the functions to the virtual version.
We know this unprecedented crisis has put many companies in a difficult situation. Remote working has not been very friendly with certain organizations and has put both employers and employees in a fix.
At this juncture, we would like to share how we overcame the tests of remote team building so that it inspires and motivates displaced teams to productively work from home.
The following are the initiatives that helped us be much more productive in our remote work endeavors.
1. Virtual Check-in with #daily
Our office space has a biometric attendance system. All of us had become very much accustomed to scanning our finger to enter the office space.
Now that was our first concern.
We wanted an attendance system and also wanted to ensure that employees do not burn out from continuous work.
We had to establish a check-in and check-out mechanism so that our employees could clearly demarcate their time for work and personal requirements.
And indeed we did.
We immediately came up with a channel, #daily in Slack. The whole team would start off their day by greeting one another and sign off the day in the same manner.
Moreover, we encouraged the team to greet each other in different cultural languages, emojis, and even funny GIFs to make the day look less habitual and more interesting.
Gradually, the channel became more than an attendance system, it became the virtual ground for meeting our family-like team.
Rather than making it a channel for confirming the presence of employees in a mechanical fashion, we have tried to give #daily a humane touch and that has worked wonders.
2. Daily Scrum With SurveySparrow
Physically, all of us are scattered, but our work is as aligned as it should be. We have automated the entire process of daily stand-ups with SurveySparrow’s own SlackBot.
We had come up with this idea instantaneously as we decided to opt to work from home. Without any further ado, we sat to develop the tool and implemented it within a few days’ time.
We had it integrated with the Slack channels of the respective teams and everyone was onboard.
We then started receiving daily updates of each team’s work status, saving us the trouble of any confusion. Needless to say, ever since then work coordination has become a cinch, thanks to our very own tool!
You can try our Sparrow SlackBot too, it’s just a click away.
3. Weekly Reflections
We as an organization are driven by impact rather than the volume of activities.
Our belief lies in working towards solid solutions that will help us reach our organizational goals rather than flimsy activities that barely make a difference.
We created a channel, #weekly, where the entire team updates the list of tasks carried out in the previous week.
Weekly reflections help us analyze our work, evaluate the impact brought by each activity, and keep track of work in the pipeline. This has aided all of us in organizing and synchronizing the workflow much efficiently.
When so much is done, the following week can be started off with great clarity and therefore on a good note.
4. Weekly Online Team Meeting
The obvious perk of working in an office is that you work with your team in-person. Ideas are exchanged, plans are curated and executed together with the team beside you. When you work in such a zealous environment, you are sure to be inspired almost every time.
But that needn’t be the case when one works from home. Working all by oneself, cooped up in the four walls of the house can be exhausting both physically and emotionally.
We have tried to tackle such a situation, here, at SurveySparrow. We make sure that the team members meet each other every week. We conduct a team-wise meeting weekly, via Google Meet or Zoom to brainstorm ideas, draft plans, and discuss work progression.
Meeting familiar faces and guiding each other is always a delight. It helps dodge the work fatigue and rekindle the passion and drive for work.
5. Zoom Monthly All Hands Meet
Our Monthly All Hands Meeting was something that we looked forward to at the end of every month.
The meeting was a platform where business updates were reviewed, concerns of the employees were addressed and every milestone was celebrated. It helped our company become more transparent and bond with the employees better.
The pandemic had posed a threat to all such meetings but we were uncompromising. We decided not to break the routine and still continue our all-hands meeting via Zoom Video Conferencing with our remote team.
As a result, our employees are happier and the team spirit has bolstered up.
We were shook just like anybody but we were not ready to give up on something that we love so dearly. We set up our virtual office backed by Slack, encouraged flexible work hours, and conducted activities to boost morale.
We go hand in hand as a company and have each other’s back whenever things go haywire. It has made all the difference.
And that was our inspiration to chip in our contribution to this fight against the COVID-19 pandemic.
We developed two remote tools, Sparrow SlackBot and Surveysparrow for Microsoft, to help ourselves and our counterparts streamline work efficiently.
We didn’t stop there.
How could we forget those communities who are working day and night to ease the difficulties brought by this pandemic?
We offer free services for the next 6 months for all NGOs fighting the good fight.
If you are one among them please don’t hesitate to visit our self-help portal: https://surveysparrow.com/help-each-other.
We are more than happy to serve you.
We are facing grim times and that’s the fact. Sugar-coated words are not going to help. We need to stand by each other and take up resilient actions to mitigate the current scenario of work. And yes, I strongly believe that our unity will help us overcome this crisis. It is just a matter of time.