How is working from home working for you? Are you all set up and comfy at home? Or are you constantly switching between the dining table and the sofa, struggling to get focused? After our Friday retrospectives, we found out we are dealing with a little bit with both at FREE NOW.
We are quite used to working from home, at least from time to time. Last summer, we introduced the concept for a trial run, so everyone from the Barcelona tech hub was able to work from any EU country whenever they liked. After the trial period, we decided that the option to work from home was here to stay. So we established remote working manifestos across the company, tribes, and teams and started using different tools and techniques that would make working from home as seamless as possible.
Last week, for the first time ever, the entire FREE NOW organization started working remotely. It was a new situation for the company. The employees created a #remote-work channel on Slack to share some tips and tricks. We, the scrum masters, decided to share “Remote Work Tip of the Day” in that channel to facilitate smooth and productive working for our colleagues. And we would like to share those tips and tricks in the form of a weekly blog post.
So, here it goes.
Remote Working Tip #1 — using Zoom video calls
We are all spending hours in Zoom calls and we want to help you take advantage of all the features it has. We conduct many team meetings on Zoom. It’s challenging to coordinate speaking time, come to team agreements or give feedback to what has been said.
What we found useful was:
- The use of emojis — see on the image below a bottom tab called “reactions” that you can use to answer a question.
- The use of reactions (see image below) — open the detailed participants list by clicking on “manage/list of participants”. The window on the right gives you a useful reaction, to vote on a topic or raise your hand when you want to speak. This will allow the facilitator of the meeting to be more efficient in decision making and give everyone space to raise their voice.
- Mute your mic when you are not speaking — when you are muted, you can hit the spacebar which unmutes your mic as long as you keep the space bar pressed — like a walkie talkie.
- Whiteboard — if you need to draw something to help the team understand what is being explained, click on the “share screen” icon on the bottom menu and select “whiteboard” it is a simple collaborative tool to help you visualize what is being said.
Hosting the party
If you are a host, you have some additional features like muting the other participants and switching off their camera, especially useful if the Internet connection is weak. You can also make someone else the host if you need to leave early.
Remote Working Tip #2 — How to stay focused?
- Create an environment that shields out visual and audio interruptions (put headphones, face a wall or a window, not the TV or other people in the room).
- Create a “perhaps list” — if you have some great ideas, or have just thought of something, instead of jumping right on them, take a post-it and write them down so it doesn’t distract you from what you are doing. You can come back and review them later.
- Determine how much time you will allow yourself to work. And stick to it. It will help you avoid sloppy productivity, as blurred boundaries allow any kind of interruptions to occur.
- Last but not least, take breaks. Use the Pomodoro technique. This is also great for parents with kids. Toddlers can’t read time but they can see the progress on a timer and hear the ring to help them distinguish when it’s time to stay quiet and when it’s time to play.
For more tips on productivity in the work from home times, we recommend you follow our example and offer Get Things Done training to your teammates.
Remote Working Tip #3 — How to inspect & improve within your team?
Our first week of working fully remotely is almost done — time to check how things are going and agree on actions to improve! Retrospectives provide a safe place for teams to reflect, are super helpful to create transparency and establish constant improvement — not only in tech teams. It’s a powerful tool for all teams especially in these days of massive changes!
Here are some tools and ideas that can help you prepare and facilitate a remote retro for your team:
- Trello is a convenient and free tool, to some extent. Add the Leaner Coffee Power-Up allows your team to vote on the most important topics. It auto calculates votes for further decision-making and comes with a timer to help you time-box the discussions.
- Retromat helps you to put together a plan with the 5 steps each retrospective format should follow.
- Funretro already provides you with different templates to choose from. In addition to the voting and timer, it also allows you to merge topics into bigger clusters.
Happy retrospecting and see you next week!