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Remote Working – The New Black?

Posted by
Branden Dekenah
on
May 7, 2020

Interfuzers keeping connections alive at one of their daily remote standups.

It has been almost six weeks since we – at Interfuze along with many others - all began to implement our collective COVID-19 imposed responses. It’s been pretty clear that we also had to overcome a number of challenges. For instance, prior to 15 March our consultants were working at client sites and at our city-based office. But this all changed (as for many of us) almost overnight.

In many respects, the size and design of our business was meant for this moment! Whilst we have physical offices and are typically office based, all our systems are cloud based: finance, time management, project management, software development and deployment – we have even had resounding success with remote requirements gathering, design and planning.

Face-to-face and connectedness has been a little more challenging (especially for the more extroverted members of the team) and whilst Zoom, Microsoft Teams and Slack all very effective, it doesn’t beat real human contact.

In this post, I’d like to share some of the key takeaways and learnings from our move, to work from home. Maybe some of this will also help you and your teams as we all continue to practice good remote working.

  • More time to get things done! The removal of the daily commute, being able to get “straight into it” and the lack of interruptions (notwithstanding regular Slack giphy wars), has resulted in both measured and reported productivity increases. What this means when we get back to “normal” and how we maintain this productivity is something we’re thinking about right now.
  • Plan your discussions. As good as our virtual communications channels mentioned above are, combined with the Atlassian tools Jira, Confluence and Trello, collaboration requires more thought and needs to be scheduled. You can’t rely on the bump factor to test and / or pass on ideas. Ad hoc discussions that would normally happen at a desk, coffee machine or breakout room now need to be planned and squeezed into hyperactive diaries.
  • Up, up and away. Motivation has increased across the team (contrary to McGregor & Doshi’s research in Primed to Perform). The sample is small and the horizon short but the type of work being undertaken (knowledge based and highly technical) and greater self-determination are key contributors to the difference, I believe.
  • Better connections. Team communication needs to be constant and more structured. We use Agile techniques like stand-ups and backlog to manage the company (not just client projects) and utilise Teams and Jira for accountability and progress, and we continue to do this virtually.
  • Have a laugh. Finally, we try to keep a sense of humour through it all and have some fun at our Thursday afternoon catch ups, which might or might not sometimes involve a good game of online poker.

As we now look to post COVID-19 re-integration, I believe that we will maintain many of the processes and techniques adopted over the last six weeks.

Hopefully, our regular team catch up can soon become in-person and support our local hospitality industry, but I suspect that many of these disciplines will now become part of our flexible and pragmatic delivery.

If you and your team are finding remote working challenging, I invite you to get in touch for a chat.

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