I was inspired to write this post after seeing this tweet from Buffer CEO Joel Gascoigne.
These are unprecedented times, and there is no blueprint to follow.
Working remotely has historically been a planned activity, where you have the luxury of time to consider everything you would need, and approach it from a systematic point of view.
In the current climate, that luxury of planning and foresight does not exist as millions of people are thrown into a situation they are not prepared for.
In the last 24 hours I have watched online videos of local business owners sobbing, as they explain to staff they don't see a way of remaining open, and it's heart breaking.
This is not working remote.
Entire families are isolated in their homes, using dining tables as office desks, with limited internet connection and bored children.
In addition to this, feelings of anxiety are increasing due to the threat of infection, the safety of loved ones, and the ongoing hassle of ensuring there are enough supplies in the home for everyone's needs.
In the spirit of helping as many people as possible, who have been thrown into an unplanned work from home situation, here's the best of what I know right now.
Feel free to email me with any of your practical solutions to the problems you're currently facing.
1. One synchronous communication tool
Synchronous communication is when you are able to take part in real time communication. This allows information to flow to the right people, quickly. These include tools like Slack, Microsoft Teams, Hangout Chats etc. If your company is still relying on email flying back and forth, encourage them to utilise a service like the ones mentioned.2. One asynchronous communication tool
Asynchronous communication is when you share information, but is not reliant on an immediate reaction. Typically, this includes a "one to many" approach to communication, as opposed to a "one to one" approach. One of the best ways to do this, is to write a detailed account of what you know, and share it in an agreed location, for colleagues to review at a time suitable to them. Ideally this tool should be searchable, to help people find what they need quickly. Google Drive or similar is good for this, but it's more important for your company to have an agreed process in place for who, when and how things should be documented. If your company doesn't have a process like this in place right now, put the suggestion forwards.3. One online storage tool and an agreed file management structure
Many companies already have file storage processes in place, but in the current climate, you need to be over communicating what is saved where. This is all well and good, but if 1000 employees are suddenly saving documents with their own naming conventions and file structure, it's just as bad as not saving it at all. Speak to your company, and agree a structure and format for saving documentation in a consistent way. 4. One video conferencing tool
If you haven't already got one set up, use tools like Zoom to help you stay in touch with colleagues. The face to face contact will help you stay sane.5. Call planning
Establish rules before the call starts. Everyone joins on mute. The call must have a planned outcome before the call starts (E.g. By the end of this call we will have... X, Y & Z). Accept that people have irritable bored kids at home. Make it clear it's ok for interruptions, don't make people feel bad about this.6. Identify business critical face to face activities
Identify any business critical face to face activities, and create a work from home alternative solution. If that's not possible, identify ways to reduce the risk to the business if no alternative strategies can be identified.7. Additional costs
If your company hasn't already done so, ask about a budget for the additional expenses you will incur working from home, such as Internet costs, babysitting costs, webcam / headset costs, home office set up (desk, chairs, lights etc).8. Collect company wide feedback
If everyone in your company suddenly working from home are all individually facing the same challenge, then your company needs a way to collect that information and implement a solution. The best way to do this is to use a free online form builder like Google Forms, and get everyone to submit feedback on what's NOT working, then senior leadership can review this on a daily basis and implement positive changes multiple times a week.9. Tips for working from home
You can find a list of common tips for working from home
in this blog post but what about tips to deal with the challenges you're facing today? Like these:
Keeping the Zoom meeting going after your business call has ended for 20 minutes, to let children of coworkers talk to each other and alleviate some boredom.
Having a separate space for work calls if working from home with a partner. - Understanding the needs of your internet connection (like uploading / downloading content) at the start of the day, so everyone can plan their online activity around it.10. Plan for fun
There's a lot to do, in a new challenging way, but don't forget to factor in some fun each day. It won't happen naturally, so think about deliberate ways you can make you and your loved ones smile each day. We're going to need it to get through this together!
Did I miss anything? Let me know on twitter.