Getting remote right
Even before the coronavirus pandemic turned the world upside down, remote work was becoming a thing. A global survey from last year found that working from home (WFH) has risen 159% in 15 years. And since March, this number has skyrocketed. For many, working in a coronavirus world meant working from home. All of a sudden, incorporating the right WFH tools became a very important task for businesses who were all scrambling to solve collaboration issues related to remote work. From companies panic buying software to employees panic working to prove their productivity, one thing became clear: we may be hurtling headfirst into the Fourth Industrial Revolution, but many businesses simply weren’t ready to work from home. At Mobiz, however, we’ve managed to not only survive but thrive working remotely. No matter the workplace, in times of uncertainty communication is everything. What’s more is that while we get that using the right tools – and software – is a big part of working remotely (and effectively) without the right staff, these tools won’t get you far…
1. The top tools of the trade
When utilised correctly, remote working tools not only mean higher work productivity, but an increased company morale. At Mobiz, we use Slack, Miro, Zoom, Notion and Jira to streamline our day-to-day communication. We’ve found that these tools keep the lines of communication clear throughout our company and our teams. Zoom, for example, gave us the ability to have much-needed face-to-face time (which sometimes just meant checking in and making sure that everyone is doing okay during lockdown). The brilliant combination of Zoom and Slack helped us to establish communication guidelines for working flexibly. One of the hardest things to do remotely with a team is white boarding. Our product team has managed to whiteboard effectively using Miro as a creative/ discussion/ whiteboarding session tool to breakdown problems and map out thinking.
2. Put a face to it
Working through a pandemic is stressful. If anything, it’s made it harder to maintain routine and structure. And with the work-home lines being blurred, many employees are juggling a disruptive home environment, working additional hours and burning out. This is why face-to-face contact is still important – yes, video calls count – and they shouldn’t always be about work. If anything, it’s become easier to develop empathy for others when working remotely by understanding the different circumstances in which an employee finds themselves. Office perks when you don’t have an office to go to doesn’t mean you shouldn’t take care of the people around you. A comfortable work culture can easily be facilitated through the right tools and channels. A happy (online) environment is not only is it good for company morale, studies show happy people affect a businesses’ bottom line for the better.
3. To scale or fail
Hiring mid-pandemic is a bizarre new normal many companies are tasked with. So often, you don’t get to meet a new hire in person and instead of having a first day at the office, they’re in the same place as the day before but with a different role and different responsibilities. No more handshakes and no office tours in sight. The coronavirus has changed the recruitment process altogether, but it has also changed how potential employees think about the future of work. At Mobiz, we’ve managed to successfully grow from a team of eight in January to 28 today. What has driven our growth? It’s simple. We’ve put a lot of effort into hiring the right people by using a highly-trusted recruiter who understands our company’s needs, culture, product and people (and what this means in a post-Covid world). Our recruiter also attends our leadership strategy meetings so he can get on top of what we need and by when.
4. How high are your hiring standards?
We realised from the beginning of our start-up journey that hiring the wrong people would be detrimental to our business and our growth. We simply didn’t want to waste time, money or people skills where it mattered the most. This is why we have such high hiring standards in place – we believe that a strong selection process is key to building a great team and that our employees are our most valuable resource. Our growth has shown us that if we hire for success, the work required to get our teams to produce becomes so much easier. When onboarding new staff remotely, Notion (or NoHQ) is our go-to tool. We use it to ensure all relevant items are documented but what we’ve also done is created a structured onboarding board. This is key for new starters as it not only shows them where relevant information sits, it gives them tasks to do that allows them to self-onboard and later, and have daily check-ins. Notion stores both our product and onboarding videos and provides direction for anyone wanting to set up a meeting around certain topics relevant to their role.
While saving these types of documents to the cloud works for storage, it doesn’t help when it comes info discoverability. Notion solved this challenge for us by providing an all-in-one workspace with areas to store and collaborate on work as well as make items from other areas visible.
5. Outline your goals early on
How do you ensure that your whole team is aligned and focused on the same objective(s)? At Mobiz, we’re big believers in OKRs. More ambitious than KPIs (and short for ‘Objectives and Key Results’) we use OKRs as a light management framework, only implementing what’s right for Mobiz with the purpose of aligning our teams which are smaller and more agile. Having sessions with our teams to bed down company objectives and create team objectives has allowed all our teams to work together to hit the main company goals. But it is far more than alignment, OKRs also allow us to track progress on each team’s objective and make sure we know early if there are issues or areas that need more focus than others.
How has Covid-19 changed how you work? What will drive your internal communication in a post-Covid world? And more so, how will you communicate with your customers going forward?