Author: Paul Young, Orchard
Here at Orchard we’re into week two of all of our staff working remotely from home. We have around 45 permanent home workers and our staff often work from home regularly anyway but this is the first time that everyone has worked remotely at the same time. So far, it’s going well and it’s pretty much business as usual with customer implementations progressing as planned, our support team still on hand to help customers out with any issues via phone or email and so on.
Across Orchard, different departments and teams are remaining in close contact with each other to help get us through these challenging and uncertain times. Here are a few tips for anybody looking for ways in which team/company morale and communication can be maintained while away from the office.
In the marketing team we make sure we catch up every morning for a remote daily stand-up (well, a sit-down but you get the idea!). This helps us check in with each other, see how we’re all doing from a work point of view but also personally, which is vital during this period where it can be very isolating. These daily catch-ups allow the team to discuss the day’s tasks to enable us all to remain focused on immediate challenges and not be overwhelmed by the many what-ifs that a situation like this presents. We use this time to help each other out with any issues and keep us working towards the same objectives that we would’ve been aiming for if we’d been working in the office.
Great collaboration tools
When working remotely, you really do rely on collaboration tools to keep the wheels turning. Rather than endless email chains with people working in silos unable to see what others are doing, we find that picking tools which offer great visibility lets us work just as well as we do in the office and prevents any duplication of work. We use a lot of Google products internally namely Docs, Sheets, Hangouts for meetings (and messaging each other) and we’re using GoToMeeting, Skype and Zoom for meetings with people outside Orchard, too. We ran a very effective training session via Zoom with our website development team earlier today, that worked so well we might keep doing it even when everyone is back in their offices. These collaboration tools work really well and keep the email inbox from bursting at the seams!
Keep it social, too
It’s important to remember as we make our way through these new uncharted times that we’re all human beings at the end of the day. We’re all trying to make the best of things and keep working as normal whilst juggling children who are now at home all the time, worrying about loved ones and generally feeling a bit cut off from the world.
Because of this, a key part of great team collaboration and motivation is to keep it light and fun at times. Just because we can’t be in the office together doesn’t mean we can’t have a virtual cup of tea or lunch together. At Orchard, we use Google Communities and staff are sharing tips and fun stuff they’ve come across. We’re also looking at ways in which we can have weekly staff quizzes and we’ve even got a couple of leaving do’s which will take place via video group chats. It’s important to mark these occasions and say goodbye to colleagues even though the traditional drinks down the pub are no longer an option.
Overall, the COVID-19 situation has created many business challenges but we’re confident we’ll come out of it on the other side in good shape and many of the ways of working (via video conferencing) will remain in place in the future too as they’ve shown us new ways of working well together.