Working Remotely – Efficiently and Effectively: Part I

Posted by Josh Jinks-Chang

How it all started

Seven cities, four time zones, three countries, two continents, one company.  At Aimpoint Digital, working remote has been and continues to be the way our company functions and succeeds. Thanks to the flexibility, collaborative attitude, and openness of our company culture coupled with the constant improvement of technology, we can collaborate well and accomplish more internally and for our clients, especially in a world of COVID-19.

Working remote comes in other phrases or acronyms: Work from home (WFH), telework, telecommute, etc. Regardless of the terminology used, this concept is common in companies, ubiquitous across industries, and has become more and more prevalent as company policies and work styles transform. Bottom line: as long as you have Wi-Fi, hotspot, or some way to access the network, WFH is a feasible option.

A few years ago, a Stanford study highlighted that WFH led to a 13% performance increase. This particular study emphasized an uptick in workable minutes per shift.  Despite the productivity boost and benefits, we believe working remote carries some challenges in 8 key areas:

At Aimpoint Digital, we have identified ways to mitigate these challenge risks and achieve a productive WFH environment. Today, we’ll discuss the first three challenges.

1. Culture

First and foremost, our company culture and mindset allow us to be adaptive, flexible, open, and pivot quickly. No matter what technology, software, or productivity tools are available, without the mindset that WFH is not only “okay” or “allowed”, but “supported” and “recommended” (when possible), the rest of the challenges won’t get resolved. Furthermore, it can create an overall negative work environment with guilt, overanalyzed social cues, mistrust, burnout, and micromanagement.

Therefore…

  • Trust your colleagues
  • Give them the benefit of the doubt
  • Create transparency and an open-door policy
  • Cover each other’s backs
  • Assume a bit of Hanlon’s Razor (i.e. assume the best intentions of others)

2. Communication

One of the most basic forms of communication that is probably used across most organizations is Outlook or some email exchange. While email is sent to colleagues here and there, our core communication tool is Microsoft Teams. Teams allows us to contact anyone in our company from instantaneous pings to video chats and phone calls. We can schedule impromptu meetings or join meetings synced from Outlook, both within and outside of our organization (for anyone else who utilizes MS Teams).

In addition, Teams allows us to create group chats, posts, and wiki pages. So instead of spamming memes to the entire company, a project team can share these crucial memes with the intended audience.  Equally, these group chats, posts, and wiki pages are also powerful avenues of communication from a company-wide perspective – whether it is a broadcast of the latest trick in Alteryx or a knowledge share of the latest data visualization dashboard. If for some reason we forget something or miss a broadcast, an activity feed, followed by chat history that is searchable keeps people up to date.

Lastly, many team members have their phones linked to Teams and Outlook, which means receiving pings, chats, calls, and emails come right away in case someone is not by their computer. Whether or not we choose to pick-up or respond after hours is another story. 😊

3. Personal Connection

While being in the office with colleagues has its benefits like being able to bond over a nerf gun war, sharing snacks from the latest trip, or playing 3-point shootout with old crumpled-up notes, creating and maintaining a personal connection with your colleagues in the virtual world is just as viable. With so many different technology options, just make an effort and schedule something.

Setting up time to chat about the latest video games, binged Netflix specials, greatest NBA player of all time, home workout routines, 16th baking recipe, weekend getaway in the backyard with your furry friend, or improving time series predictions by leveraging quantum machine learning algorithms to better signal changes in demand cycles greatly continues the bond between colleagues or soon-to-be “work buddies”. As a company, having weekly video chats allows us to see each other instead of pixelated avatars and stay updated on personal life, latest project achievements, and in some cases, who can turn themselves into a potato. Sending GIFs, memes, YouTube videos, and funny links across chat and email, as well as virtual happy hours are all excellent options for maintaining personal connections and keeping things a little lighter during this time.

Stay tuned

As mentioned, this is just how we tackle the first three challenges. As our world continues to shift and transform, we hope the mindset, tools, and relationships can positively adapt with it without losing the winning edge and drive that many companies and people have. So leverage those communication tools and be more purposeful and strategic in how information is broadcasted, delivered, and exchanged. Start this new phase off connecting with people and finding common interests. You never know who may be that alias behind your #1 nemesis in Catan Universe or who may be into planting Himalayan Blackberries, magical Mandrake plants, or an army of Groots.

Check out the continuation in Part II

 

 

Aimpoint Digital will help you take an idea from thought through execution. This collaborative journey will enable you to get the most out of your data and technology investments. Contact us to begin your acceleration process.

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