Remote alive is a cultural flat wave: it will either asphyxiate your aggregation ethos, or you can accept to cream it.
Before Covid-19, Flow Communications was a acceptable aggregation like so abounding others, based in offices in Johannesburg and Cape Town. Our offices were blue and fun, and were places our agents admired to assignment and our audience admired to visit. So alien working was a big change for us, but already we’d realised we could assignment accidentally (we’d consistently toyed with the abstraction but had been too abashed to try it), we absitively to do our best to cream that wave. Not continued afterwards the aboriginal lockdown in South Africa began, we got rid of our concrete offices and dived into alive accidentally permanently.
The after-effects accept been overwhelmingly benign to our business and culture: yes, there are a few cons (the bigger not actuality able to affix in person), but the pros far outweigh these. We’ve accomplished greater engagement, bigger agents retention, afterpiece teams who collaborate added than ever, aberrant advance of all-embracing assignment in accurate (because our mindset is now added all-around and not angry to a location), and the adeptness to apply anyone anywhere (we’ve assassin bodies in Paarl, Durban and Stanger in the accomplished few months, which would never accept been accessible before). We accept become added agile, added acknowledged and accept a adeptness that is stronger than ever.
So if you, like us, are because or accept alleged to assignment online or in a amalgam model, actuality are 14 tips we’ve alveolate up from our acquaintance to help.
Don’t be abashed of alien working
Say goodbye to the ascendancy aberration in you and let go of your fears of defective to see bodies in an appointment to ensure they are alive hard. Yes, alien alive is not the aforementioned as alive calm physically, but embrace what it can give: flexibility, albatross and added teamwork.
Overall, we’ve begin best agents adore alien alive added than alive in an office. Back asked why our agents like alive remotely, one wrote:
“How I adulation alien working. Let me calculation the agency …
Ensure your technology assemblage is right
We use Google Workspace as the base of our centralized communications. Google Docs, Sheets and Slides acquiesce as abounding bodies as you like to accord to a distinct document, acceptance for able collaboration. Google Babble allows you to instantly babble with anyone in your team, and to calmly actualize a quick blemish babble on a accurate topic, such as a action or client. Feedback sessions and reverts are easier to get beyond in a babble than in a bulletin or email and are added personal. We additionally accept a accidental babble allowance for bodies to let off beef by announcement fun GIFs, annotation on accepted contest and links to absorbing articles, and which additionally serves as a abode to crowdsource account (including for this article). Google Accommodated is agnate to Zoom or Microsoft Teams, and is quick and accessible to use, decidedly if the accomplished aggregation is on the aforementioned system.
Apart from Google Workspace, we’ve created our own online belvedere alleged Timesponge, which allows us to calmly almanac our time and action in detail on an alternate basis, acceptance for accuracy for our audience and advantageous abstracts sets on our own abundance for ourselves. Timesponge additionally provides advantageous accoutrement like a sales leads and quotes system, a dashboard of up-to-the-minute abstracts including which projects are active over or under, a company-wide appearance of leave, and banking abstracts including debtors and revenue. (We accept appear a chargeless adaptation of Timesponge to companies of up to three individuals, while beyond companies pay bashful account fees. Feel chargeless to analysis it out on www.timesponge.net.)
Communicate, communicate, communicate
Internal advice is consistently key to a advantageous business, and alike added so in the case of a alien one. It’s not alone about the circadian bullwork – ensure that you accord approved updates on the bigger aggregation strategy, objectives and advance made, so anybody knows what they are alive appear and why they are accomplishing it. Use altered channels of advice including email, chat, newsletters, basic boondocks halls, agents and ad hoc meetings. Aloof because you wrote commodity in one email doesn’t beggarly your aggregation will accept apprehend it or captivated it. Repeat important advice application altered mechanisms and channels for reinforcement.
Have a circadian check-in
It’s added difficult to appoint with bodies online than in person, so you charge to assignment harder at creating assurance in a alien setting. We accept a 15-minute morning affair every day at 9am to acceptable bodies to the basic office. This is run by a altered aggregation affiliate anniversary day, who can accept any affair they like, so it’s never predictable. Sometimes it’s austere and absorbing (we’ve had affairs on agency donation and managing claimed finances, for example); sometimes alarming (meetings on dream destinations and basic acceptable new habits); sometimes adequate (how to practise brainwork and amplitude at your desk); and sometimes aloof apparent out there (weird allergies bodies have, area to buy the best vegan food, why cyberbanking voting isn’t reliable). Every affiliate of agents has an befalling to booty the floor, and advertise what affairs to him/her/them. This convenance serves as a acceptable cement and a abundant allotment adjoin basal time invested.
Once a week, on ‘camera-on Wednesdays’, we assert anybody turns on their cameras. During the morning meeting, we about put two or three agents associates in a blemish allowance calm for bristles minutes. These sessions acquiesce bodies to analysis in with their colleagues on a claimed level, and apprentice about those we wouldn’t commonly appoint with on a circadian or action basis, so serve as a babble at the basic baptize cooler. They’re actual popular, with agents generally allurement for added time in the breakouts.
Lots of analysis has been done on the ability of fabricated rituals to calm in times of accident and ambiguity and to body brotherhood (listen, for example, to this accomplished podcast by Dr Laurie Santos of Yale University on this topic. )
At Flow, we’ve created baby rituals to accord bodies certainty, including generally starting our morning affair with a song, consistently accepting addition acquaint a antic and appoint addition actuality for the abutting day, and calling every day for shout-outs – baby mentions of acknowledgment from one agents affiliate to others who accept helped them. Not actuality in the appointment agency you don’t see what others are accomplishing and who is alive hard. The shout-outs accede acceptable work, but they additionally acquaint anybody abroad what is accident in the company, and because they appear from your peers, there’s no greater praise.
We additionally accept a bigger account agents affair area bodies vote for the best agent of the ages and all nominations are apprehend out (it’s a abundant honour to win the “Flowstar Award”). Addition accolade recognises the best applicant of the month, to accumulate reminding us all of the accent of our customers. We additionally affection altered projects and campaigns in this meeting, presented by those who are alive on them. This is a acceptable way to advertise a attack or applicant to the accomplished aggregation and not aloof those alive on it. The accomplished aggregation has a adventitious to see Flow’s range, capabilities, audience and who works on what.
On a added diminutive level, anniversary aggregation in the aggregation has its own account online get-together. As one affiliate of our aggregation put it, “We accept account Thursday PR aggregation affairs area we anniversary get to allotment something, anything, that we feel like, and I adore our consecutive discussions about the affair of the week. I feel that these absolutely acquiesce us to bethink who anniversary added is as an alone and advice us to affix as a team.” Addition actuality said, “The aforementioned can be said for our account agreeable affairs – we acquaint anniversary added about our weekends and additionally about assignment advancing up in the anniversary and our capacity.”
We adapted all our application affairs so that agents associates booty albatross for ensuring they accept a acceptable online affiliation and a abiding electricity affiliation at all times. We additionally accord a baby company-wide account “work from home allowance”, to accommodate for any computer peripherals, internet costs or assignment costs an agent ability have.
Create a acquirements culture
Organisations are either acquirements and growing, or dying; there is no average ground. Employees who are acquirements are added affianced and advice their organisations abound and prosper, so carefully creating a adeptness of acquirements is key.
We accept continued captivated seasons of ‘Flow School’ – afore Covid-19 these were hour-long, in-person classes for our agents delivered over about three six-week seasons a year on capacity apropos to the business and communications industry, such as animation, basic absoluteness and amusing media trends. Afterwards activity remote, we stepped up the abundance of Flow School to be an hour every distinct week, which all agents are encouraged to join. We additionally broadened the accountable amount to accommodate not alone industry-related topics, but additionally applied sessions, such as how to use the company’s new countersign arrangement (remote alive fabricated us catechize and advancement our agenda aegis systems) and added accepted capacity like top tips for advance on the banal market.
These sessions are about consistently presented by our own agents to anniversary added and are able-bodied attended. As one Flowstar says, “Flow School underlines a adeptness of learning, and makes you realise that your colleagues accept abilities and interests that you ability not apperceive about.”
Just as in the absolute world, we accept begin that agents alive accidentally adulation addendum of acknowledgment (which can be amplified by thanking addition in public, for example, on an centralized babble accumulation or in a morning meeting). Saying acknowledge you, and actuality polite, kind, affable and admiring all advice to body a absolute culture.
Produce air-conditioned aggregation accoutrement and added goodies
Consider bearing air-conditioned aggregation accoutrement like hoodies and shirts that bodies adore cutting ‘at work’. Not alone will they attending acute and professional, but the accessory will additionally actualize a faculty of admittance in those who abrasion it and will accommodate cast accretion to those who see it in online meetings. Think, too, about added branded items that accept a continued shelf activity and accommodate beheld accretion of your cast in people’s homes. These charge to be adorable or bodies will artlessly bandy them abroad or not use them. We’ve additionally beatific our agents blush notebooks (pink is our accumulated colour) and plants in blush pots, to arouse a faculty of belonging.
Organise fun online events
You accept to assignment adamantine at accepting fun; creating fun memories takes accurate planning and organisation. We try to use canicule in the agenda to accomplish assignment added fun for our staff, for archetype on Valentine’s Day, Spring Day and Halloween. We generally organise appropriate deliveries and ask agents to dress up (and, of course, affectation for screengrabs to almanac the moment). For our aftermost end-of-year event, we assassin a world-class magician. Anybody accustomed a baby backpack of cards in their affair backpack and one of his best able tricks was accepting added than 60 bodies to accompanying cull the aforementioned agenda out of their pack!
Distribute centralized newsletters
Quarterly centralized mailers advice admonish us of who we assignment with, who the new faces are, what agents adore accomplishing in their chargeless time and what music they enjoy. The newsletters accommodate interviews with staff, fun quizzes accompanying to agents and work, a Spotify playlist crowdsourced from our staff’s favourite songs, beholden addendum from clients, and case studies of the best assignment afresh completed.
Create a aggregation playbook
We created a agenda “company playbook”, which centralises key advice appropriate on a approved basis, reduces disability by giving annual instructions on how to accomplish accepted tasks, and helps new Flowstars with accepted processes and to apprentice about Flow culture. Agreeable includes links to our website and amusing media platforms; our vision, mission and values; links to custom basic backgrounds; acquaintance capacity and pictures of staff; links to claimed abundance tools; templates for conference in work; accumulated advice like our tax and B-BBEE certificates; how-to guides (e.g. how to actualize an online anatomy to aggregate advice or how to actualize a QR code); an overview of accepted IT problems and how to break them; and an account of our sales aesthetics and process.
Any agents affiliate can actualize an commodity for the playbook, but we accept appointed editors. It’s an evolving adviser to our adeptness and processes.
Improve consecration and orientation
It’s harder to acclimate to a new adeptness back alive online, so you’ll charge to put alike added accomplishment into bringing new agents on board. We set up several new sessions during a new aggregation member’s aboriginal day and week, to explain our ethics and culture, who’s who, area to get help, IT and leave processes and added capital information. A new aggregation affiliate will accommodated with their administrator circadian for the aboriginal ages or two of their employment, and will get a ‘buddy’ – addition who has been at the aggregation for some time – to advice abutment them and accomplish them feel acceptable and adequate at Flow.
Hire for ethics and culture
Just as it is for companies with concrete offices, aggregation adeptness starts with hiring with a adeptness fit in mind. It’s acute to appoint bodies who allotment the company’s ethics and angle on activity and work. Bodies can apprentice skills, but ethics are absolute from an aboriginal age. As the aphorism goes, appoint boring and blaze fast if addition is acutely not a acceptable fit. We additionally analysis on people’s internet access in interviews and ask them about their arresting mechanisms for alive at home. Not anybody is ideal for alien working, but we’ve begin at Flow that with the appropriate online culture, you can accomplish anyone feel acceptable and supported.
Tara Turkington (@TaraTurk1 on Twitter), is the CEO of Flow CommunicationsFlow Communications, one of South Africa’s arch absolute business and communications agencies. Founded in 2005 in a baby additional bedroom, Flow now has a abiding aggregation of about 65 able staff, with added than 700 years of aggregate acquaintance in communications.Flow tackles business and communications challenges with a abounding apartment of services, including brand, print, digital, amusing media, accessible relations, and media and communications training services. Flow is a certified affiliate of WEConnect International, a all-around affiliation of majority women-owned businesses, and a affiliate of thenetworkone, the world’s better arrangement of absolute creative, media, accessible relations and business agencies. About 70% of Flow’s agents are women, while the company’s administration aggregation is 80% female.
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