Ana Sandu
ANA SANDU

Working remotely: there is a right way to do it!

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This is our story about how we adapted to a sudden change from seeing each other every day and starting the day with freshly brewed coffee to waking up and opening our laptop while still wearing pajamas and hoping we weren't late for the morning standup.

As you may already know, we are a team of psychologists, so we have an intense sense of analyzing the consequences of every decision we make that affects our team, on several levels: productivity, well-being, confidence, motivation, future career. Remote work is one of those very important cases and we want to share the ideas we got from doing it.

First of all, we will start by saying that, in a way, our team was already used to working remotely since our Head of Recruitment moved to Barcelona a year ago. So it was nice to have the tools, the technology that is part of this new establishment, and also to know how important it is to maintain the relationships.

When the pandemic forced us to stay at home for almost 3 months and the prospects of not being able to return to normal office life are until maybe next year, we were faced with the option of being a completely remote work team. We surveyed all our colleagues and we were very happy to see that this decision is agreed by everyone. But that meant some changes had to be made.

Our attitude towards the new concept of working together and being part of a team

The feeling of belonging to the group is something that requires time, common activities and sharing the same set of ideas and values. If you think that remote work is the next step you will take, make sure you pay attention to this concept. We have been actively addressing this issue by organizing remote meetings and also face to face lately, on Fridays. Last week we went to an open area, just to make sure we could keep our social distance and we had a picnic, we talked about what we did, how our lifestyle has changed and what our work will look like from now on.

Create space for people to share their day, their struggles or just have a coffee and see the pets of colleagues.

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Finding options to work together at least one day a week

The current context allows for going back to work in small groups and keeping the social distancing rules. What we found in our survey is that every colleague wanted to have this direct connection with the entire team, at least once a week. So we decided to be creative about it and we found some cool places in the city where we can meet and work: IT hubs, co-working spaces, open areas.

Before taking any decision make sure you get everybody’s opinion on this, because many people want to keep distance and not be put at risk and prefer to join remotely.

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Having clear procedures on how to maintain a normal rhythm

No matter how many lists of tips and tricks we put together and shared on Slack, working from home can be extremely difficult for extroverted people who are motivated to be in a full room who have a lot of energy to share or those who need a more rigid context. That's why we have fixed appointments throughout the week - daily standup, start and end of the week calls on Monday and Friday. We are constantly checking if our procedures are up to date, if everybody can have access to important information when needed and they do not depend on other colleagues. And we do it together, having everybody’s input so we can safely assume nobody is feeling uncomfortable doing it.

Psychologically speaking, we need order and routine in our lives, it keeps our sense of identity on track and helps us organize our work. When there is chaos around you, your brain has difficulty seeing patterns, predicting the near future, and focusing on achieving goals - which is what it is actually designed to do.

Maintaining productivity at at least the same levels as before

This is a tough one. I've seen so many contradictory stories about organizations that have had increased productivity and others that have had trouble getting people to come to meetings or chat.

Our personal experience has been a positive one and we believe that it is due to the fact that we have maintained a transparent approach to our activity from the very beginning. We are a company where we talk a lot about what keeps us motivated, about the problems that arise, focusing on finding solutions and offering everyone the opportunity to do the work they excel at.

Intrinsic motivation is a great predictor for high performance. Learn about the people in your organisation,engage in chats about themselves, their aspirations, their plans for the future, without the sole intention of analyzing their matching score to your team. Imagine you are meeting a travel companion and thinking about the questions you would ask to understand them as persons.

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Taking the decision to work fully remote requires attention to all of the above and if you consider it as a good option for your team, invest time in analyzing the needs and particularities of your organisation. Creating a work environment that people will cherish is hard even when you have an awesome office and great benefits. Doing this remotely is ten time harder so be prepared with a great deal of energy and patience!

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