Remote work – this is how we do it!

Difficult times have come for all of us in terms of the COVID-19. For security reasons, many companies (if their profile allows it) decided to completely move to remote work. Working from home minimizes the risk of catching or spreading the infection to others. The companies that always offered their employees the opportunity to work remotely were certainly better prepared for this situation.

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VirtusLab went remote

At VirtusLab we have been working 100% from home (read more about it here) from March 12th, until further notice. It was easier for us to implement it since remote work has always been possible at our company.

It is usually 1-2 days a week, or even more – it all depends on the project and agreement with colleagues so that frequent absence does not affect the rest of the team.

Therefore, we did not have to specially prepare for switching to remote mode. However, this prolonged home office is something new for all of us, so we are still learning how to best adapt to the current situation.

Working from home – this is how we do it

How do we manage to effectively work remotely? While all are learning this new model, we prepared a mini guide for all those who are currently looking for inspiration on this topic.

1. Effective communication is the key

The key to successful teamwork on the project is good and effective communication, but when it comes to remote work it’s even more important. The main peculiarity of remote work is the lack of opportunities for direct, in-person meetings. When a team works in one room, the communication between its members usually occurs naturally, without the help of any tools. In work from home, it is crucial to preserve this by providing employees with a good platform for quick information exchange. Teams should be aware that this ongoing online contact is very important, as well as being able to have a quick voice or video call during working hours.

2. More planning & continuous project tracking

It might not be easy to work remotely, especially if someone is not used to it. But starting with good discipline and through planning raise chances of success. It is good to plan the daily work in advance, outline an agenda with priorities and make sure to have well-scheduled calls.

Being constantly up-to-date with various project’s issues is essential for both managers and other employees. Progress tracking enables team leaders to set clear goals for the team. It also helps employees to see the development of their and colleagues’ tasks. Scheduling an online daily and weekly meeting (on the model of those keep in the office) is a good solution here, together with providing a good online tool for everyday reports. It’s crucial to make your work & efforts visible and to make sure work gets actually done.

3. The remote toolbox

The technology is here – it’s never been easier to communicate and collaborate with people anywhere, at any time. Even though it is obvious, managers should make sure everyone has the tools they need to efficiently work from home (and knows how to use them). Agreement on the tools and channels that will be used should be made with all team and be consistent. Thanks to the tools we can adapt to a rapidly changing situation and/or environment.

There have never been more tools to help make remote working possible. And they’re affordable too – many of them are priced with reasonable monthly subscription fees or have the basic free features (which are often enough individual work or in smaller teams). Here’s what we recommend:

1) The communication

Slack
Google Hangouts
Zoom
Skype
Discord

Make sure that everyone is “on the same page” and you all agree on & use the same communication channels, so information is easily accessible and searchable for each team member. In the office, we were happy to meet and chat with our colleagues and see how things are but now even our CEO is working on the Q&A hangout session. Communication is a real thing for us.

2) Planning & project tracking and collaboration

Trello
Asana
Basecamp
Podio
Meister Task
Zoho
ToDoist

Meetings & tasks flow – we’re pretty sure you have all this in your head already. Sharing it with the rest of the team, so they all have a common understanding is the next step.

3) Developers/designers-specific tools

Jira
GitHub
InVision
JetBrains
Synergy

Remote work? It’s already happening in a lot of organizations worldwide and it’s a big challenge for every team and every organization. At VirtusLab we always have an option to work remotely so we know that it is possible to work effectively at home and to successfully deliver a project. What is completely new for us is conducting all recruitment interviews online but we are adapting to this. The current pandemic situation is difficult, therefore we are open to such new solutions to ensure the continuity of our services.

Unfortunately, despite the best preparation, not all processes can be carried out remotely. Due to the situation, we decided to freeze the recruitment of interns for now. The standards we always try to keep in case of mentoring and development that we would like our trainees to experience are now more difficult to maintain, and lowering standards is not an option.

We are all looking for the situation to get better but we should be prepared that the remote work can last a bit longer. The home office is the present for most companies nowadays – now is your chance to catch up!

Written by

Kasia Pytko
Kasia Pytko Apr 7, 2020