The past month has brought a lot of changes to our lives, businesses, relationships, and interactions. We all have seen tons of Corona-virus precaution suggestions by now, so as a result, most tech-companies have asked employees to work from home. As a company that has been remote for a while, we’ve decided to share our experience with remote and how our team made the transition.
What does this all mean for our company?
No one can predict with certainty what will happen in the nearest future, but it all depends on how quickly we react. Since the middle of March, when the necessity of self-isolation started to spread around the globe, our team has been working in a new environment — from the home desks.
Keeping employees safe and limiting the spread
Keeping employees safe and limiting the spread means that we had to change old processes, develop new collaborative skills, and learn important lessons about keeping the team engaged in a remote setting. That’s why our CEO decided to take proactive measures rather than reactive ones and started with implementing a Work From Home (WFH) policy for the company. It is very likely that WFH will become mandatory for more than 4 weeks due to the global issues concerning COVID-19.
As an outsourcing company, we have decent experience working remotely with clients who live in other countries and in different time zones. That’s why implementing a remote work policy hasn’t been problematic at all. We covered for the team the significance of being online and available during the working hours, negotiated the communication (via email, Slack, video call, etc.), and what deliverables each team member is responsible for completing. These will be key insights to bring back to our physical office when the crisis passes.
Communicating transparently with our clients
Everyone is facing this crisis together, so we decided to be transparent with our clients about what our business is going through. We wanted them to be able to better see and understand how we’re working in conditions of self-isolation, so we thought about how we can become more operationally transparent. It’s essential for the brands facing a crisis to communicate with clients properly.
At Cadabra Studio, we’ve increased our use of tools like Zoom, Slack, or Skype, as well as our employee advocacy program to quickly share information, update clients with videos and messages from our CEO, and track how clients are responding to our crisis communications messaging.
What we have learned while working from home
Remote work comes with specific challenges. The freedom and flexibility that comes with all-remote enable employees to view work in an entirely new light. Some studies show that driven individuals who place a high degree of value on autonomy and flexibility can experience new levels of joy and productivity in an all-remote environment.
What’s the biggest challenge working remotely?
The toughest thing everyone among Cadabra Studio’s employees is mentioning is isolation. And it’s a pretty general thing for most people since work from home is coupled together with social distancing, which is vital because of the coronavirus spread.
During the quarantine, we had to pause hiring new employees because proper onboarding is difficult when you’re remote. It involves more self-learning, and you’re not physically with your new coworkers.
Another big challenge with remote work is building relationships as a manager. Our managers and team leads now have to put in much more work and effort into making and maintaining teams' organization and productivity. It’s a challenge, but it’s something we’re aware of and overcome successfully.
Are there any advantages of remote work?
People are naturally resistant to change — especially change that is forced during times of uncertainty or crisis. Operating in an all-remote environment provides benefits and competitive advantages for employees, the company, and the clients.
We had seen that when our company became forced to do more with less, the team became even more efficient, creative, and focused.
For the four weeks working remotely, we have been able to double the number of shots posted on our Dribbble profile; we became rather creative with social networks, as we haven’t had any possibility to show the team in the office.
The new environment creates opportunities for businesses. It’s time to take effective steps to adjust your business for achievements. Crises are usually short-lived. When they end, the demand rises. Currently, we are working on products that can help remote work, remote education, telemedicine, online support, etc.
How we create a routine and keep up social connections for mental health
For Cadabra Studio, it has always been important to maintain informal communication, as it enables us to build trust within the company. Those who feel they have genuine friends at work are more likely to enjoy their job, perform at a high level, and feel invested in the company.
We understand that working remotely leads to mostly work-related conversations with fellow team members. Normally, the teams scheduled working sessions on Slack or video calls where team members can work through challenging tasks with a coworker, or simply hang out while each person works on their own tasks. This recreates a productive working session or a traditional office setting, but from the comfort of your own desk.
Also, we use Telegram chats for informal communications throughout the company, whether it’s a team-specific channel or a channel dedicated to sharing memes and photos with other team members.
How the Cadabra Studio team copes with remote work
One of the questions we get the most from our colleagues is how we have fun and prevent isolation when we’re all working from our own homes. To prevent loneliness, all-remote companies should consider an intentional structure for informal communications.
It takes effort, for sure, but we have succeeded in building connections even when we’re not in the office. For example, our happiness manager sends a random “good morning” gif to the team channel every day or initiates quizzes about the team members. These activities help the team keep the informal communication and find out interesting facts about other team members.
Scheduling coffee chats, social calls, Friday remote bar for team members are several of the ways in which the Cadabra Studio team fights self-isolation and work-from-home loneliness. It’s a great chance to get to know who you work with, talk about everyday things, and share a coffee, tea, or your favorite beverage. In this way, we make friends and build relationships with the people we work with to create a more comfortable, well-rounded environment.
Not only do we get to know our coworkers better by seeing them in real-time during video calls, but we also get to know their pets and families too. This visual engagement helps us relate to each other on a more personal level.
Social media is one more valuable communication tool in 2020, that’s why with the team we run work from home challenges. Out team sends photos of themselves working from home and we generate content on Instagram or other platforms. And as many around the globe isolate, social media might become an even more important channel for communication and a sense of community.
A piece of advice for someone who is working from home
Relax: you aren’t born knowing how to work from home. We all have to remember that transitioning to remote, even if temporary, is a process. We cannot copy an in-office environment and paste it into a remote one and expect everyone to function as usual.
It’s essential to communicate with your team as you adjust. Speak up about issues you face. Offer solutions for communication gaps. Seek advice on how others have carved out dedicated places of work within their home.
Remote is a chance to rethink how you live and work, that’s why you should learn how to take advantage of your new working reality. Aim for using this time to make yourself healthier. Exercising, resting, bonding with family, cooking, reading, studying, etc. — all great options to make your work from home as smooth as possible and ensure a healthy team vibe.