The world is facing something unprecedented these days: the COVID19 pandemic is here and uncertainty is all around.
Life is changing, habits are changing and the way we used to work is now changing.
For most people, working from home may sound easy, cozy and comfy. I mean, you can sit in your PJs almost all day! However, reality kicks in after a while. For some it may be on the second day for others maybe in the following weeks; however, the case is still the same. It becomes arduous and difficult to be inside your house all day, every day, whilst trying to continue some semblance of a routine. It becomes even harder when you, and your company are not prepared.
For most offices now, working from home is a privilege for employees who may want to be comfy, wait for an electrician, or just put their head down and get some administrative work completed. It is not intended to be a long-term situation and companies may not have planned for long-term work from home stints - especially for an entire office.
Luckily, we live in a world that is more connected than it has ever been. However, we need to make sure that we are using technology appropriately and as effectively as possible. Things need to change to ensure that businesses can survive this turbulent time…and possibly into the future as things continue to change even after this pandemic has passed.
There are three important areas that companies need to consider when moving forward in difficult and turbulent times:
- Technology and tools
- Willingness to adapt
Clear and organised communication
When working in an office, the immediate team is typically in the same building. This comes with pros and cons but one thing is certain: communication can be easier and more immediate when people are sitting around the same table.
How many times have you found yourself questioning whether to send an email and ask a relatively important question or to wait until the next scheduled meeting with your manager? And how many times have you thought about calling your teammates to give them your opinion about that document they sent and, in the end, you did not?
These questions are related to what my team and I call work etiquette and they should have clear answers. It is a company’s duty to give guidance about these behaviours; in fact, the more informed the employees are, the more comfortable they feel in situations of disruption.
We at Danger Farms are connected pretty much all the time and talk a lot on Slack. We communicate to each other when we start our day, when we go for lunch and when we sign off. We are also committed to jumping on meetings - if someone hits a roadblock, we easily plan a Google Hangouts meeting, quickly discuss and solve the problem. We use emails for important matters: documents, things that need to be shared with clients, or administrative matters. If someone is not easy to reach through these channels but the question is very important, we are not afraid of using Whatsapp (during working hours).
Technology and tools
When used properly, technology keeps us close and organised. There are hundreds of tools that can be used to monitor what the team is doing, to schedule and organise meetings and to share documents without having to email (and consequently download) them.
One of my favourite is Notion - which, to me, looks like a notebook. The concept is very similar to that of Google Drive but I find it leaner and more complete. It allows members of the team to work on the same document at the same time and to insert pages and links. In addition, Notion's users can store and reuse data inside tables - such as for recruiting purposes - and can link in other applications such as Trello and Google Drive.
Trello helps us a lot when it comes to organise our schedules, product cycles, and projects. It’s also good for simple things like keeping track of checklists.
Willingness to adapt
Companies may have the ability to adapt, the technology, and the tools but without the willingness, nothing changes. Companies need to be willing to show agility and a continued desire to move forward - not just with profits, but with organisation as well. This is a difficult task as you need to get buy-in from everyone in the company in order to truly adapt. The more friction, the harder it is to move (thank you High School physics for that gem). There are many theories, ideas, strategies, you name it for achieving company-wide buy-in but in reality, only those within the company can know which avenue to pursue or which levers to pull to make it happen.
Your company culture will be tested whenever there is change - be empathetic and listen. You need to dig your heels in to push off the ground (by listening and diving deep); however, dig in too hard (by being stubborn) and you, and your company will be stuck where you are.
The world is becoming more complex and thus more unpredictable and turbulent. Independence referendums, pandemics, climate change, elections, legislation changes, globalisation - how can anyone predict the outcome of each? We cannot - but we can communicate clearly and effectively using the right technology and tools and ensure that are always willing to adapt in order to move forward.
Things are changing. Are you?