Given the current unfortunate situation caused due the covid-19 pandemic, a lot of people are being forced to work from home, some of them for the first time. As a company whose co-founders are based in different locations (Omer in Israel, Luca in Italy and I predominately have been a digital nomad working from different places in Europe and Africa), we would like to share our experience so far and hopefully help make the transition easier for everyone.
Communication is Essential
We sometimes tend to overlook the difficulties of communicating with our team since we are used to practically live with them (many of us spend more waking hours with our team members than with our spouses). Communication in long distance working relations is crucial. I mention it first because without proper and frequent communication, you and your team are bound for conflict.
According to our experience, developing a project (or even a startup) remotely is possible. Although not working from the same place at the same time, we were able to make hard decisions, steer our startup and change our course more than once. It wasn't easy to begin with, but with hard work and practice it is completely possible.
Be completely transparent with your teammates as for your tasks and working status. Let them know that you carry your burden and that you trust them to carry theirs. It requires trust, sympathy and empathy.
Also, it is often important to be straightforward and honest with your team about your personal issues. We are human and we need to realise and understand that sometimes, especially given the current circumstances, we might not be able to perform the required work at an optimal level.
Keeping your teammates update on personal issues is sometimes more important than the work itself, as it is easier to understand for a team member that you aren’t able to do the work now than be in the dark wondering what you are doing.
Routine, Planning and Scheduling
Make sure you understand your role in the team and how it affects others and plan your week accordingly. Make a list of things that you want to accomplish and plan your week around it. I would also recommend planning a routine around it, start your day at a certain time and try and mimic what you would if you were in an office environment. Even though this sounds mundane, it really helps in the long run. But don’t be afraid to take a break as when you please no one is watching, just don’t let it hinder your work.
Depending on your company, you must be used to regular team meetings to brainstorm, to share ideas and get feedback. Most companies have it at least once a week, plus all the encounters during the workday with your colleagues where you can interact with them regularly. Unfortunately, all this is missed when you work remotely. Therefore, making up for this is extremely important for a remotely working team to succeed. Make sure you set a time once a week where you have at least an hour-long call with the entire team present. Also use your team group (on Slack, WhatsApp, etc) to get feedback from your peers as frequently as possible.
Some people tend to over work despite being home and others tend to take it way too casual. Don't be hard on yourself on one hand, but also don't take it too easy. Make sure you carry your weight even though you feel like no one's watching. They all do. One must understand that when the entire team is working remotely, no one is aware of the work carried out by the other team members, and everyone feels like they are doing more than they should. Make sure to provide your teammates with feedback on your progress more than you usually would. If you are managing a remotely working team – give feedback and ask for it, more often than you usually would. Your team members need it in order to get used to the new situation and in order to adjust their behaviour. Having said that, don't be too hard on your team. Working remotely takes time to get used to.
With more countries getting into population quarantine keeping work-life balance for parents working remotely will be challenging. YOU MUST BE AS ORGANIZED AS POSSIBLE. This cannot be stressed strong enough. Plan your child will need your attention in these stressful times. Remember your child is experiencing a frightening event even though he or she might not completely comprehend it. Pay attention to your family, routine is crucial. Divide your days into working hours, alone time and family fun time. If you are parenting an infant or toddler and both parents are working, communicate and plan with your spouse. Make sure you spend enough time with your family, make enough time for your spouse to work, and carry your burden yourself. It sounds difficult, but according to our experience, being planned makes it possible.
For those of you asking how xelera is dealing with the new situation – xelera is built upon the believe that diversity, digital media and international cooperation are extremely valuable in good times and in bad. We leverage the power of online communication mediums to provide startups with access to a diverse and international network of business professionals, therefore bypassing physical borders, connecting different parts of the world and spreading innovation around the globe. Even in the face of the Covid-19 pandemic.
For startups that are focusing on markets where they aren’t based or startups looking to grow to new markets, Xelera's network is spread all around the world (reference our network page for more details). Despite the current unfortunate circumstances with regards to travel and international cooperation, xelera can assist startups to continue to grow and achieve their goals, even on an international level. Our acceleration program is completely virtual and extremely personalised in order for you to achieve your objectives and meet your unique challenges. If you are interested in our services, feel free to get in touch and join our pilot program risk-free.
Make sure to have fun and keep safe both when working and otherwise.