The Covid19 outbreak in India has forced startups to adopt 'work from home' across the board. A large number of startups in the 'Silicon Valley' of India, Bengaluru asked employees to go remote last Friday as the number of confirmed cases started to grow.
There are multiple challenges founders face while working remotely. Basic messaging services, video calling can help colleagues stay in touch, but important business decisions need more collaborative efforts. This means more tools.
Raghu Bharat, who cofounded GoScale, a platform which connects remote engineers with technology companies, lists out the top points that employees, founders and even freelancers need to keep in mind to ensure 'work from home' is managed smoothly.
Having put in more than 3,400 hours of remote work himself Bharat has been working remotely since 2016. He started GoScale in 2017 and is running it bootstrapped. Below are his seven tips.
1. Define your work hours
We all have worked fine with the flexible timings and longer hours. But in a physical location, it was obvious when your employees were present and the working hours were understood. You don't want an early bird coworker to wake up a night owl because the hours were not clear.
2. Specify daily activities
You probably do this already as and when they come up, but it’s important to keep everyone on the same page. It helps to have dedicated time for goal setting, collaboration, deep work and updates. Move to asynchronous workflows to avoid dependencies, bottlenecks and blockers. Prioritizing the key activities will ensure smooth collaboration too.
3.Be clear on the tools
There are several tools that enable remote collaboration. For example, Slack or Twist for collaborations, Zoom for video calls, Trello or Jira for project management, and Calendly or Doodle for scheduling. Embracing tools of remote communication is crucial.
4. Managing expectations
Working at home can lead to mismatch of expectations at work as well as with family. Staying at home means family expects quality time together, communicate your hours and commitment with them beforehand as well as make time for them to avoid disappointments.
5. Be available, work or otherwise
To all the vertical heads and top bosses: communication is crucial to your team’s success, it may or may not be about work always. Whether they have a conflict with a colleague, struggle with working on their own or are anxious about news in their community, be ready to hear your people out.
6. Setting up a proactive culture
Remote work can also misalign work expectations. There has to be a two-way sync on communication. While you might specify your requirements, there may be some delays, lack of enough support or unexpected blockers. Encourage your colleagues to voice them and approach for guidance.
7. Communication is everything
You might have noticed a lot of the above points revolve around communication. Communication is the key, overcommunication is the advice I'd personally give founders. This can make or break your work and becomes the cornerstone of culture as well as success.
GoScale's remote experiment
One experiment GoScale is attempting is to simulate an office environment by staging a virtual office.
A core team has been logging into and staying on a Hangouts call the whole of our working hours. This team mutes itself while taking meetings or turn on ‘away’ when it is not to be disturbed. It cuts the video when its steps away. This has been working out great!
The team is productive and connected at the same time and the virtual office has been giving more context to stay focused.
What are the basic tools that a team can use to stay in touch and ensure business continuity?
Tools are the enablers of remote work, you cannot streamline, scale and automate your work otherwise. When it comes to tools to use in a remote setting. Pick one tool for each function — communication,collaboration and project management, documentation and knowledge sharing, etc.Video conferencing tools:
GoScale uses Slack for internal communication, Zoom for video conferencing, Asana for project management, Geekbot for internal updates and Notion or Google Docs for knowledge management. You can find the best tools for each function here. If you are looking for time tracking tools, Hubstaff, Toggl or Timedoctor are your go-to.(As told to Pratik Bhakta)