Ahhhh welcome to the new world of 2020. Where dogs and kids are a regular feature in your team meetings and chances are your colleagues weren’t actually wearing pants during the last video call you had.
Over the past few weeks (days even) entire businesses have transformed working remotely to help prevent the spread of COVID-19. And we know you have questions about how to make it work.
How do I keep my team motivated? How do I keep myself motivated? Do I email or call my colleagues? How many times is too many times to write ‘as per my last email?’ And most importantly … why do all the snacks in my fridge keep disappearing so quickly?
Lisa is the General Manager of Spell & The Gypsy Collective – if you haven’t walked into their Byron Bay, then you’ve probably ‘added to cart’ one of their beautiful pieces, which are designed in Australia. They’re a team of 60 who have now transitioned to working from home.
“From today at Spell, our HQ team have commenced working remotely from home. That’s asking over 60 team members to work as cohesively as possible, to stay motivated, to stay digitally connected with each other and continue to meet business objectives.
“This is completely uncharted territory for us and for so many others out there doing the same thing but we are doing what feels right, right now!
“So what does this look like – we have replaced face-to-face meetings with Google Hangout or Zoom, and we are chatting via Skype or Workplace. Team leaders will be checking in with their teams on a daily basis to ensure we are all staying connected and to ensure we’re all ticking off our to-do lists.
“Whilst we are unsure how long Australia will be in this phase; as a company we are choosing to see the light at the end of the tunnel whilst embracing and getting extra creative within the digital space.”
Caroline is the founder of Organise.Curate.Design a lifestyle management company. Caroline manages a team of three and while they have been working remotely on and off for a little while now, it’s been full-time since Monday. As a business, they help people take care of their life admin and small business owners with their admin too.
“I trust my team to stay on track but we have been texting when needed and they have all sent me their agenda for what they are working on and what they need support on this week. We are having our regular team meeting on Wednesday, via video chat, and will continue to proceed as normal. We also plan to host a virtual lunch for our team and community as a way to reduce the feeling of isolation and promote human connection.”
You might be familiar with this name? Liv is the CEO of Business Chicks and in the past few days, she’s moved the Business Chicks’ team of 30 to a workforce that’s working (mostly) from home.
“The team at Business Chicks moved to a work from home schedule early in the week. Every day, we only have a maximum of five people in the office and the rest work from home. We have a fairly flexible working environment anyway so it’s not too much of a change, but it’s really important to me that we don’t operate any differently to how we would if we were in the office. So if I need to talk to someone, I pick up the phone straight away or jump on a video call, I don’t set up a meeting.
“The business has changed dramatically in the past few days so it’s so important to me to constantly check in with the team so everyone is focused on the right activities and that morale is up and everyone is feeling ok. We use Sharepoint to share documents and Skype to stay connected. We have a bunch of Skype channels we use to talk as a team and my favourite is one called ‘Messages to Brighten Your Day’ where we team share stories of members doing amazing things or the positive feedback we’ve received.”
Cathie Reid is Managing Partner of Epic Pharmacy Group and Digital Advisor to Icon Group, a company that employs 3000 staff. With most of those staff being frontline healthcare workers, Icon have been working comprehensively to guarantee the safety of their staff and customers.
“Adopting social distancing practices for as many people as possible is an important contributor to containing the spread of COVID-19. While our frontline team members at Icon Group need to remain focused on the delivery of essential healthcare services through our network of cancer care centres, pharmacies and chemotherapy compounding facilities, we’ve moved to a remote working model for as many people as possible in our office based roles this week.”
“One of the ways that Icon Group has been able to expand its impact so significantly across Australia and Asia has been by the extensive use of technology and a model where centrally based teams support our sites in their daily operational activities. That experience, and our existing widespread use of remote access and videoconferencing tools, has stood us in good stead as we’ve made these changes.”
“That said though, for many of our office based team members who have been used to working face to face with their immediate colleagues each day it’s definitely been a big change. The daily rituals and behaviours that bond teams are disrupted, and you have to quickly identify and introduce new ones. This week we’ve already seen teams introduce costume themes (hey we’re Icon, there’s always an excuse to don a costume!) into their daily team check ins via group video chat, and plenty of pets are getting cameo roles as well. Our CEO Mark Middleton always makes a point of walking through the office and saying good morning to everyone personally, and he’s taken that online and is creating a new ritual there.”
“It’s going to be interesting to see what happens when the current crisis eases, but after an extended period of remote working (these arrangements are in place for at least a month at present) I’m sure the experience will see the creation of a new normal for us, rather than returning to one that looks exactly like the way we worked up until now.”
Tara is the founder of Your One and Only which is a branding and design agency. They’ve been working remotely from the start, with two lead designers and five contractors.
“In terms of the programs we rely on, we use Monday religiously and have a very formulated WIP that indicates everything happening in the studio. Harvest is our time tracker so we know what we’re working on and its duration and for all our online contracts and agreements, with go to Proposify. Xero helps us to manage accounts and it also has an employee portal, which gives staff the ability to upload their timesheets (Harvest does this too and syncs to Xero).”
Frances is the founder of Athena Consulting. Athena specialise in contact centre consulting and has a team that scales up to 15 people. She’s been working from home for seven years and recently transitioned her team to do the same.
“We have some great rhythms like our weekly success check-in, where we not only share how we’re going to be successful at work tasks this week, but also what key life goal we want to be held accountable to in order to supercharge our productivity, and what company value we’re going to embrace.
“We have quarterly all-team gatherings where we either do a strategy session, a hackathon, a team training day or other activity that unites the team I try to check in with each of my team informally every day, with a silly gif or meme or just to say hi.”
Megan Winter and Karyn Parkinson
Megan and Karyn are the founders of Unstoppable eCommerce, which helps drive sales for ethical and meaningful eCommerce sites. They’re a team of two who work remotely with a number of other consultants. They say:
“We have a scheduled weekly directors meeting and are committed to open and honest communication – we much prefer to pick up the phone if there are any issues. Throughout the day, we use messenger to chat but use email to communicate regarding anything that requires action, attachments or follow up.”
Their keys to making sure you stay on top of work and not drowning in it is, “Don’t cc everyone in – email is the death of productivity and use meetings only when a meeting is needed.”
Karyn also swears by Pomododo Assistant for time management. “I sometimes do it with a friend over Zoom, so in the five-minute break we say what we are going to achieve in the next 25 minutes and then check in with each other afterwards – we call them our ‘power sessions’.”
Business Chicks, as always, is committed to helping our community navigate sometimes daunting and unknown territories. During this time, we’ll be ramping up our online content (like this!) and online Masterclasses. We’re here for you and placing your needs front and centre of every decision we make.