• Type:

To stay remote or not? That is the question

Should we go back to the office?

We are still on the emotional and physical roller coaster that the COVID pandemic has caused. We have gone from having to lock ourselves up without prior notice, to feeling that we could go out again and things would be fine, momentarily returning to confinement, vaccinations, and well an endless number of moments that have marked us throughout this year and a half of pandemic.

Today, I think, we are no longer doubting whether or not we can work remotely. Many of us have proved that it can be done and that things are going well, in some cases, too well. Now we are faced with the resistance of going back to the office and how to make this change so that we continue to stay safe.

We are still figuring that out, but we wanted to take the opportunity to share some ideas on how to keep rocking this remote thing, and then, little by little, start having the difficult conversation of whether to return to the office or not.

Keep a routine

When we began the research for best practices on remote work, we found that one of the main tips is to have a routine. We totally agree, and would like to add one important thing: you must be compassionate with yourself, because not every day and not every week you’ll be able to maintain that routine, so you should be open to chaos and changes of plans. Some ideas for your routine are:

  • Wake up at a time that allows you to go through your morning activities, that is: exercise if you do that, eat breakfast, shower and then start the working day. This way, you have given yourself the time to take care of yourself and then start working on time.
  • Define your work hours, remember to give yourself time to eat and stretch. It helps a lot if you use a calendar, putting those times on your calendar so that the team knows when you are available and when you are not. That way,  nobody should book a meeting with you at your lunch time.
  • Designate an office space, but also be flexible and choose different locations that are comfortable for you. The bedroom is definitely still out of bounds, as it is important to separate the resting place from the workplace, but you can switch from the desk to the couch at times. The idea is to allow you to be comfortable and productive.
  • Remember not to work long hours, since you may lose focus. Pomodoro is still an excellent option for defining work and rest periods.

Finally, you should finish your workday. It is very important to have closure and disconnect to be able to rest and focus our attention on other topics such as family, friends, or hobbies.

Effective communication: some tips

Communication is still key for remote work and in general, for life. When working from home, there is nothing like over-communicating, even when you think everything is clear it is better to do a review.

Part of having clear communication is that the team knows and understands the objectives of the organization, as well as those of its area so that they know what is expected of them and act accordingly.

Tip no. 1 from the Failure Institute: We work with OKR’s, we define them at the beginning of the year, and every quarter we review our progress. In the middle of the year, we check everything that was set out to decide if we continue in the same direction of execution or if we need to make any changes.

As we know, being remote it is important to compensate for those moments that no longer occur by the watercooler, in the corridors, at lunchtime, or the classic just turning and telling my peer what I am thinking. So it is important to have a tool to still exchange messages with everyone.

Tip no. 2 from the Failure Institute:

We use Slack and it allows us to share ideas with various people on the team, have 1-on-1 conversations, and share jokes if we want to.

Nonetheless, it is important to have a clear communication process and assign priorities to the different channels as well as topics or information that will be shared on each of those channels. This way you can choose between the different means of communication (email, video call, chat) avoiding saturation and overwork.

Tip no. 3 from the Failure Institute: We’ve structured our channels in the following:

  • Slack is our main tool for communicating with the team.
  • We use video calls for brainstorming, team meetings, and news or announcements relevant to the whole team.
  • Emails are for important documents, official announcements, and weekly reports.
  • In-person meetings, when possible, are valued especially when creating new content or products.

Tip no. 4 from the Failure Institute: We have weekly meetings, 1 to 1 sessions, monthly and quarterly meetings to share how we are doing as individuals, review the objectives and progress of the different areas and align the next steps.

Team dynamics

There are different myths about remote work and one of the most common is that people do not work enough or are lazy. It is important to talk about this directly with the team and remember that the key is to trust your employees.

How can I develop responsibility in my team? Ensuring clarity of purpose and goals, to the extent that people know why they are part of the team and why their work is important to achieve said goals. With this, they will engage and be able to work from Bali or their home without losing focus.

At the Failure Institute we have a flexible way of working which means:

  • We use a reference schedule according to the main office in Mexico City and we ask the team to connect as long as possible during this period. Doing this helps send a message of trust to the team.
  • It is important to keep different time zones in mind when coordinating meetings and teamwork. We currently have colleagues in Spain, the US, and Argentina, so having flexible hours is a priority.
  • We have a clear and defined purpose, we develop our objectives based on them and we hold monthly and quarterly sessions to review progress.
  • Each member of the team sends their weekly report of what has been done in the week so that we are all aligned.
  • On Slack, we have different channels, including one that is called “Random”, and it is to share whatever comes to mind, from deep thoughts to memes.

We must not forget that working from home generates different challenges to maintain creativity, so there are times when we need to make efforts to give it a little push, so creating and working based on processes that generate trust, responsibility and leadership help the work team to feel more comfortable.

Videocalls and other tools

Despite the fact that at times we can feel overwhelmed by the screens, video calls are still the best tool to communicate and feel closer to the team. Trying to put the camera on and share time with team members is important.

Video calls are very useful for fostering team moments, sharing ideas, communicating important information, and having co-creation sessions. Remember to prioritize the goal of the video call well because no one needs to have a video call that could have been an email or a chat message.

Remember to have a good connection and be in an environment that allows you to feel at peace to turn on your camera and share with the team.

Failure Institute Tip: Don’t forget that we are human beings and we are surrounded by unpredictable moments, like when your dog decides to bark at the cat or the children scream. Just take it as part of your life and also share a little with the team to build trust.

Tools for teamwork. Here are some of the tools we use on a regular basis:

  • Google Docs to create and share documents. Google offers its platform for businesses at various prices.
  • Trello to organize tasks and projects.
  • Asana and Basecamp are programs that support project management.

Those tools are highly recommended if you choose to go 100% remote.

Personal and professional life

We know that working from home makes the line between the personal and professional aspects of life becomes even blurrier. That is why we have to look for what works for us and not necessarily copy what others do, but here are some good practices that might work for you:

  • If you have children at home, you can get organized with your partner so you can sort the days of the week when one may have more video calls than the other, or even block days of the week so as not to have any calls and thus be able to better organize time with the children.
  • Another idea is to look for educational programs or shows that allow the little ones to be entertained on days with the most workload so you both can be working.
  • On the calendar, you can block the time you need to focus on your children and thus avoid having meetings and dedicate yourself to them without interruptions.
  • Several team members chose the option of working from somewhere else, such as Puerto Escondido, and have learned that not all places have the ideal conditions to do so. That is why it is also important to make sure that the place you choose to work from has all the conditions to be able to comply with the day to day and not generate more stress.

Remember to stay calm, life is full of surprises, and you cannot control everything. We recommend this Forbes article if you want to dig deeper into the subject.

Know your team

It is important to know the personalities that make up your team because that way it is easier to plan meetings, assign times and methods to connect.

To make it easier, we propose 3 types of personality: introverts, extroverts, and ambiverts (a mixture of the previous two).

Failure Institute tip: Each internal team is organized according to their time and personality in the area. For example, Enterprise has two weekly meetings to discuss key topics such as sales and coordination, as well as 1 more meeting to develop content.

The reason for getting to know the different personalities is that if you have an outgoing team, you will probably need to organize more team moments and video calls to keep the connection and team spirit.

We hope this guide is useful to you and we recommend developing your own if you don’t already have it. Don’t be afraid to try new tools and give the team a fresh look at remote work.

Previous Post

Failure can lead to innovation

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Scroll to top