Skcript's Remote Work Guidelines

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Companies offer remote work as a part of the benefits package, but sometimes teams are requested to go remote as a consequence of a crisis. This could include natural calamities, government shutdown, or health threats, like the COVID-19 we’re living through right now!

Remote work sounds fun, but as a team, it is important to follow certain guidelines for productive work. The benefit of being a nerd is that it is easier to adapt to these habits.

Skcript as a team has been able to self-manage work and this comes handy when we go remote. Our focus during remote work shouldn’t be about communication, connectivity or isolation, but being productive. This is where the guidelines come in handy.

Email:#

The email will be the basic communication medium for any announcements, customer interaction and formal conversation threads.

There is support to create groups in the email which makes it easier to send out emails to a specific group and save time. Teams should make it a habit of checking emails when they start the day, mid-day, and end of the day.

Communication Medium:#

Remote work will require online presence without fail if not, there is no easier way to let your team know you are working.

How to use:

It is easier to have Internal team discussions, informal conversations, query clarifications, and personal messages over these communication media. Most medium offer reminder options that can be used to remind about Daily Scrum Calls, status updates, check-ins, and breaks.

Tools to use:

Slack, Workspace by Facebook, Discord, Microsoft teams, etc.

Video call:

Video is very important during remote work. Yeah, text conversations help, but not as much as video calling does.

When to use:

Over exploiting these tools can become bothersome. Do a video call when more than two people need to discuss and close the discussion asap; make sure connectivity is good and you don’t waste time trying to fix that.

Daily scrum calls can be done over video for better understanding and quicker communication.

Tools to use:

  1. Skype
  2. Zoom
  3. Whereby
  4. GoToMeeting
  5. Hangouts, etc.

Task Management:#

During remote work, it is important to have tasks and your work as transparent as possible. Task management plays a vital role in managing as well as increasing visibility.

How to use:

PMs should get into a habit of checking if all the tasks are updated at the end of day, assign and manage the to-do list for the next day and re-checking if work is all set for teams to work on in the morning before everyone checks-in.

Teams should make it a habit of clearing off and updating the status of the tasks when they wrap up work. Eg: Marking a task complete, adding comments to communicate any roadblocks, marking complete to clear work off your plate, and communicating any dependencies.

Tools to use:

  1. Jira
  2. Trello
  3. GetFlow – preferred at Skcript
  4. Asana, etc.

Customer Support:#

Customer support is already a remote process that has proved how successful it can be done with the right tool.

There are many tools to manage customer support in the best way possible, serving different and detailed purposes.

Tools to use:

Intercom, Drift, Zendesk, etc for chat support.

Hellonext, and Canny for managing product feedback, prioritizing them and visibility over the upcoming features.

Mailchimp and Sendgrid for email support.

Meetings (Calendar):#

While working out of the office with a lot of people, it is easier for someone to remind you about the upcoming meetings but with remote work, we need to rely on tools.

How to use:

Schedule daily scrum calls and recurring meetings way ahead of schedule. Pre-planned meetings can be scheduled over the calendar to avoid overlap and confusion.

Some tools even provide the option to book meetings by showing the available slots.

Tools to use:

Google Calendar, Hearapp, Calendly, etc.

Collaborative Sharing and Work:#

Some applications support collaborative work across teams. When a group of people is working on a document, presentation, sharing files, etc it is easier with the tools.

Tools to use:

Google suite has all the basic tools. Google docs, Google sheets, Google forms, Google Presentation, etc.

Dropbox, Google Drive, Quantamove are some of the tools for sharing files and storing them.

Key steps to follow:#

  1. Have your email signed into your phone.
  2. Install the messaging tool and video chat application on your phone and your PC. Do this prior to starting your remote work, to fix any issues that may arise while trying to install it. We don’t want to run out of space or see the applications crashing due to overload.
  3. Install tools or pin tabs of the application.
  4. Enable notifications. Turning off notifications is going to send a wave of panic when one of the members goes missing without any intimation.
  5. Before going remote, do a test run on all the machines for connectivity support, storage issues, and debug any possible malfunction. Better prepare than be sorry.
  6. Set a corner in your house with a chair and a table. If you think a lamp will help you, get one. Sitting in your bed or couch is going to make you lazy and less productive.
  7. Stock some refreshment candies or drinks to help you get through the day.
  8. If you ever feel isolated, don’t hesitate to call one of your teammates. Isolation/loneliness is a high-risk effect during remote work.

Though there are tools and guidelines to help you with work, your mental health is very important. Things to watch out for your employees when you go remote,

  • Loneliness – People might feel lonely after some time if remote work is new to them. Human interaction is important. Sometimes talking to your pet helps too. :P
    • Teams can plan for activities, online, to burst the bubble.
  • Mixing up personal and work life. Don’t let one take over the other instead stick to a routine.
    • Like I start off my day with a coffee, warm-up for 10 minutes, take a shower, check-in, catch-up with the team and get started.
    • Every now and then, walk around. 5 mins of brisk walking will definitely help.
    • Update status and once you check-out, spend time with your family and friends.
  • Getting lost in your pile of to-dos. Prioritize your tasks.
    • You know what helps you to work faster, follow that despite all the written rules.
  • Losing track of time.
    • We do not want you to burn out.
    • You might not know what time of the day it is when you go remote. Set reminders to take a break and resume work.
    • Sometimes the trouble could be no break or long breaks. It is all about balancing them.
  • Stressed out
    • Reflecting personal stress on work or work stress on your family and friends are highly possible.
    • This where defining boundaries and your balancing skills come into place.
    • Communicate to your family about your work timings and if you need to be away, let your team know.
    • We are all humans at the end and you come above everything else.

Bonus tool:#

Milanote is an easy-to-use tool to organize your ideas and projects into visual boards.

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