Entrepreneurs are no strangers to changes and uncertainty, yet a pandemic is rarely -if ever- considered as a possible scenario. It takes a lot of courage to navigate these tough times. No one has been trained to change the working routine of an entire company literally overnight. There is no precedent to this situation.
One of our founders said:
"A distinctive feature of enduring companies is how well they respond to moments like the ones we face today. Together —our team and shareholders alike— must take bold action so we can emerge from this period with incredible momentum(…)”
We couldn’t agree more. At TheVentureCity, we are committed to supporting the startup community as much as our portfolio companies and we will be offering a series of webinars and tools to make the best out of working from home, while we comply with our civil duty to protect each other in this fight against COVID-19 🦠. If we look at things with a bit of perspective, this will make us stronger as a civilization, and as entrepreneurs.
What are the tools TheVentureCity team and our founders have been using -and loving- to make remote work as pleasant and manageable as possible? Check them out here. We also added tips to manage the emotional constraints too as we know working from home can be lonely and stressful for some people.
1. The New Normal
We need to get used to it
Remote Work is Actually Great!
... of people feel the greatest benefit of remote work is the flexible schedule.
... of people felt that working remotely reduces stress.
... People who work remotely at least once a month are 24% more likely to be happy and productive.
... By 2028, 73% of all departments will have remote workers.
... of workers would be more willing to stay with their current employer if they could work flexible hours.
... Companies allowing remote work have 25% lower employee turnover to those that don’t.
Good WFH Practices
From all the advice we have seen circulating, these three practices seem to be the most populartips to help you stay sane, focused and boost your productivity while working from home. Remote work is no longer the future…it is the present!
Find the Perfect Place(s)
A place where you won’t get distracted by others at home. They can be different spots in the home too, change it depending on the work that needs to get done. Invest also in good headphones with a mic and upgrade your internet speed where possible!
Design a Schedule
It’s very important to have a routine and disconnect when you are done with your day’s tasks. Your schedule should be well designed and you should stick to it. Include also time for breaks, lunch, and moving/stretching.
Choose the Best Tools
Working remotely requires the use of tools to help us communicate with our colleagues, partners, clients, etc. You will find here a list of great tools we recommend you to use Remote tools
More important than ever
Ricardo’s 12 Tips for Successful Video Calls
Ricardo Sangion works with us at TheVentureCity and he has been working remotely to some capacity for the last 10 years! So he knows a thing or two about how to make this work. Here are Ricardo’s top tips for being a successful remote worker!
- Turn your cameras on. You will understand why if you continue reading.
- Pay attention to the people in the meeting, if they are engaged or not. When they are not, there might a good reason, just ask them.
- Use some kind of signal to mean that you want to talk. It could be raise your hand, it could be that you unmute.
- Those who are speaking should pay attention on the screen and allow others to speak.
- Be on mute whenever you are not speaking or are not willing to start speaking. It will avoid background noise and echo.
- If you can’t have your video on, don’t mute and make sure you give audio feedback that you are still there. In case you need to go mute as well, let the others know.
- Speakers should try to be short and direct, so others can add to the conversation.
- Always allow someone who was interrupted to go back to their line of thought, instead of opening a big chain of comments.
- It’s recommended to have a formal moderator in meetings to control time, progression and ensure full team collaboration.
- Everyone should ask direct questions to people and mention their names, instead of dropping questions to the whole group.
- Before ending the meeting make sure that everyone had a chance to speak. Try to do this check 2 or 3 times during the meeting.
- If you have a group of people doing the call from the same place either: a) ask them to join separately b) ask them not to hijack the meeting with their own conversations.
Ricardo’s 4 Technology Tips for Working Remotely
Use good headphones. Wireless ones are convenient but perhaps you can go wired to make sure that you have the best quality microphone. Wired headphones are also better to avoid echos.
Make sure you have good connection and that you’re not competing with other high demand data requests, like Netflix, YouTube, game downloads, etc. Sometimes the quality of a call over the connection of your mobile phone will be better.
Have everybody’s face on the screen during videocalls. There are options on Zoom, Google, etc to, not only the one that is speaking. This way you can make sure that you see those that want to talk, those that are not engaged, etc.
Use the Whatsapp groups to remind everyone that the meeting is starting. In the office, some people get used to being brought to meetings by others. Don’t wait more than 2 minutes to ping someone that is not there yet.
(Over) Communication is Key
- People Over Pixels. In difficult times communication is key, remember that you are interacting with people. Lead with empathy and if most of your communication is now in writing, remember to check how someone might perceive what you write. This is the time to use those emojis as they actually help to express sentiment when facial expressions or voice tone are not options 🙂
- Assign owners and responsibilities so there are no doubts on who owns what.
- Document decisions so people on different time zones or schedules are able to catch-up and understand context. This works well for note taking too. Set up a shared doc and have everyone include their notes.
- Respect people’s time and make things efficient. Send a slack message or jump on a quick call before considering a long email.
Tips for Team Managers
- 📲 Standup: Every morning, at a time that is convenient for everyone, the team should hold a video stand-up – this is a 15 minute meeting for the team members to discuss what has happened yesterday and what they are planning to work on today – very short updates, 1-2 for each team member. The manager of the team needs to be part of the standup and talk about his/her plans as well. This is a daily ritual that allows the team to stay up to date with what the others are doing and huddle as a team.
- ✅ Status chat: Start a status chat so that the team members can indicate their current status – ie when they start their working day, go away for lunch or finish work. This is done not as a means of control but rather to allow team members to track better their working day, start and stop their work accordingly which sometimes is hard to do when you work from home – especially in the current situation when you are unlikely to have social commitments that would make you stop working in the evening.
- 🥳 Social chat: We are all human and sometimes we just need to chat about something, not necessarily work related and this is a chat for this all things social/fun/sad/exciting – share the latest joke or gif or video. Team members that are not interested in ‘social’ part of work can turn the notifications off.
- 🤓 Work chat: Usually no one forgets about this, but still – a place for the team to discuss the project that they are working on, can be done in multiple work related channels in Slack/other chat environments.
We love these tools when we are WFH
Virtual conference video calls where you can connect with your team, record the calls and share your screen.
Perfect tool to replace Whatsapp, where you can direct message your team members or build groups for specific projects or teams. Slack shares tips on how to get the most out of the tool for remote work.
Task tracking tool where you can follow the projects with your team.
3. Mental & Physical Health
Don’t Forget About It
Keeping your mind and body happy
Regulate your body chemistry to reduce stress and alkalize your body.
🧘🏽♀️Reconnect with yourself and meditate
You will find here some free meditation sessions and they have a product for children too:
Have someone in the team host a guided meditation session over video or maybe even a zumba class! Or do this on you own -> Best Youtube Channels for getting in shape at home.
🏅Choose something new you can learn
- 450 Ivy League School free online courses
- Blinkist (10-15min summaries of best selling non-fictional books)
Keeping your mind and body happy
Culture is as important to nurture – if not more – for remote companies because you don’t have the benefit of close quarters for teams to bond. We’ve gathered some of the most interesting, easy and fun ideas to keep colleagues feeling connected to each other when the are apart.
Leave a zoom room (or whatever tool you chose) open for anyone to drop by at any time just to say hello!
Set a day/time in the calendar for a recurring happy hour/lunch/coffee where teams can gather virtually.
Pick a theme and have everyone join a meeting dressed in that theme. Halloween Costumes, Wig day, sunglasses, whatever! Works best for internal meetings only 😉
Create a shared Spotify playlist for teams to collaborate on for different days of the week to keep people energized.
Create opportunities for afterhours bonding through online gaming or even a game of virtual charades. Our team plays chess at lunch time through chess.com
4. Sharing is Caring!
More important than ever
Tips from some Seasoned “Remoters”!
"I always try to do something at 3pm for myself – whether its some yoga/stretching, catching up on light hearted news (i.e. mindless celeb gossip), browsing an online retail site, running a quick errand, calling my mom/someone I care about, etc. For me, 3pm is the time when I feel the most sluggish so a 20 min break makes all the difference!”
Emma NyrenExplorest "If a team needs to speak frequently, create a virtual room that is always open and then unmute when you want to speak.”
Marcus Ataide,eMasters “Keep doing the normal routine, if you shower every morning, do it.Dress up the same way as you were going to the office.”
RicardoTheVentureCity “If you live with someone, let them know when you are in ‘deep work’ mode and not to be interrupted. You can have fun with it — put on a hat or make your own ‘do not disturb sign.’ The Pomodoro Technique is also a great time management tool to support you in blocking off distractions.”
JustinExplorest “We have defined a minimum schedule in which it is necessary to be available, from 10h to 17h with a lunch break, and outside these hours each one manages the rest of the hours to take out the tasks”
Joan OllerBitphy “We use lots of video calls instead of abusing chat. We also maintain communication and “contact” with simple messages: “I’m going to have lunch / I’m back”, “Good morning / I’ll finish for today”, etc. We look at each other’s faces in a 5-10 minute video call at 10:00 to explain what we have done and what we are going to do, all the team joins the meeting”
About Remote Work in general
- State of Remote Work 2020
- Gitlab’s Guide to Remote Work
- Why HubSpot embraced remote work
- Remote Work Readiness Assessment by Toptal
For larger companies:
Remote work in times of Coronavirus:
- New blog by Benedikt Lehnert
- Linkedin Feed on Remote Work Tips
- Productivity in a time of COVID-19
- Remote Work Wiki by Notion
- The Remote Work Revolution
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