Advice for Sudden Full-Remote Organizations

I recently shared some tips on how to deal with working remotely during the Covid-19 pandemic in an internal memo. I thought it could be good to share it here, in case it can help other companies.

Vialma is a music service offering high quality editorial content for classical and jazz music. We’re a company of 12 people, based in London but spread throughout the world. I am the CTO and work remotely from France. I have been remote for the past two years. The tech team has always been remote, with team members based in London, France (me!), Poland and India. However, half of the team are used to coming into the office everyday and rarely work from home.

Dear all,

The Covid-19 situation is unique because it has occured so suddenly and without much warning.. This situation has pushed people who may not be interested or who may even be against the concept of working remotely to work from home. Therefore, I think it’s important that we make our processes as inclusive as possible. Here are some thoughts about how we can make this trying time go by with efficiency and comfort:

1.📰 Get informed. A lot of companies have been functioning with remote teams for a good while. They give tremendous advice about working remotely, ranging from tips for your private life (e.g. dealing with your cat) to productivity issues. I particularly like these ones: HelpScout’s What We’ve Learned Building a Remote Culture, Remotive.io’s blog, and Zapier’s The Ultimate Guide to Remote Work.

2. 💻 Set up a nice environment for work @ home. One that suits you and that allows you to work for hours without physical or environmental difficulties (noise, people around, animals…).

Jean-Baptiste was in a rush to get home before the lockdown in France, but managed to set up a nice work environment.

3. 🔨 If your setup is not perfect, say it! Covid-19 happened so suddenly, it would be very understandable if you didn’t have a perfect setup. Just be sure others know it so that they can adapt. I personally have Internet issues because my Internet connection is not set up… (just moved in). I told my direct coworkers about it so they understand sudden drop in meetings. If you need to take care of children or relatives then tell us asit will have an impact on the way you work.

4. 📝 Be sure you have access to the right information when you need it. If not, contact people directly. New processes for sharing information will have to be found, be sure you contribute to it.

5. 🍃 It’s normal to feel lonely. And it’s not something to be ashamed of. If it helps, talk to your colleagues, you can always talk to me on slack or on video call… Use the #random channel or any other non-work channel to catch someone’s attention. You can create your own channel if you want. Don’t just wait for the next video call.

6. 🗨️ Be explicit in your communication. If you’re disappointed by something, if you have too much work, or too little, if you’re happy… say it! Nobody can see it anymore. Your way to say it is up to you, but if you don’t say it, nobody will know. Don’t expect people to guess anymore, it’s just not possible.

7. 💤 Be clear when you’re working or not. We don’t expect you to answer instantly on Slack because you might be on break or just focused on a particular task, but if you know you’ll be off for a while, let your direct coworkers know (your instant messaging status is usually enough).

8. 🤵 Keep a professional attitude and respect our company’s etiquette. Being remote does not give you the right to be aggressive or disrespectful at work. Thank you, sorry, please, I apologise, congratulations etc. are words that are extremely remote-work-compatible. Situations can sometimes feel like they’re getting out of hand with remote communication, but these moments usually arise due to lack of understanding. A video/audio call or clarification is generally enough and often very needed.

9. 😹 Share the fun. Covid-19 is bad news.We’re living through bizarre and sometimes funny times. Share your thoughts, pictures, ideas, through the appropriate channels.

10. 🎶 Listen to music. Vialma’s all about music and culture online. Take this opportunity to update your playlist and enjoy our great coworker’s editorial work. I like the Amy Beach one in particular, and I’m currently listening to it!

I hope you’ll manage the remote work @ Vialma and maintain your enthusiasm intact. Please share your thoughts, it is particularly important in those circumstances that we join our forces to build together the best way to go through this.

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