As Covid-19 spreads, millions of people have been told by their governments to “shelter in place” as much as possible for the next few weeks, in a global effort to curtail the exponential rate of coronavirus infection.
Like most businesses during this period of collective responsibility, Quoin is committed to doing our part to “flatten the curve” through social distancing. In the past week, we have transitioned to a fully remote work model for as long as is necessary. As a technology company with geographically diverse clients, Quoin is fortunately not a stranger to this work mode. With offices in Boston and Davidson, North Carolina, as well as a number of full-time remote employees calling in from places such as Rome, Jordan, and Nicaragua, we like to think we have become used to managing teams that are not in the same place at the same time - or even the same time zone.
However, working from home successfully is still a surprisingly difficult thing to achieve, particularly when our toddlers’ daycare is closed and the coffee-shop next door is no longer an option. Here are some of the methods we at Quoin have found to be helpful, as gleaned from both veteran and rookie remote employees alike:
One of the most effective methods of creating cohesiveness and responsibility in a remote team is having a daily stand-up meeting via video conference call. At Quoin, our meetings follow the Scrum framework and are capped at 15 minutes - no matter how big the team is. The project lead will encourage each member to discuss what they were working on the day before, their work for today, and any obstacles they are facing that the team can help with, while the rest listens with their microphones muted. This daily ritual helps us maintain regular check-ins and foster team bonding.
Maintain the structure of a normal workweek by upholding commitments, even if they are forced to be virtual. This provides a forum for feed-back and reinforces the feeling that colleagues and employees can rely on you. The same goes for replying to messages and emails promptly. If anything, quick responses are more important than ever because physical nudges or reminders are not possible.
Working from home should never affect the quality of the service delivered to your clients. Due to technology, working remotely does not need to interfere with the client’s access to you. This means keeping them in the loop and involved in development through virtual means and video conferences.
It’s good practice to maintain similar working hours at home as you do in the office. For most, that means getting dressed and sitting at your computer at the same time as usual, and not letting work bleed late into the evening. That said, if you must work at strange hours (hello, time zones!) then make sure clients are very clear on your availability window.
Setting aside an area for working that is separate from the space you relax in is crucial. Many people find it hard to be productive if they are working from bed. Likewise, wearing nicer “office” clothes, instead of pajamas and a robe, can help put you in the right frame of mind for work - especially when on a business call. Whatever you do, please do not be that guy on Skype whose video turns on while he’s only wearing underwear…
Gyms and sports leagues may be closed, but exercise is still important. Long, sedentary hours without leaving the house can be vacuums of productivity and motivation. Wake yourself up by setting aside an hour in the morning or at lunchtime to go for a brisk walk or jog outside. Those under more extreme “shelter in place” situations might try an indoor workout of push-ups, squats, and other energizing stretches.
Of course, most of the above can only be accomplished with a working internet connection and up-to-date devices. Double-check any new video conferencing platforms at least 20 minutes in advance of a call, in case you need time to troubleshoot. At Quoin, we like to keep the video off on conference calls for less distraction and higher quality connection. And have a back-up plan for communication in the event the above fails.
We at Quoin wish you good luck and good work in the coming weeks as we all practice social distancing. Stay safe and healthy!