/Remote working, and the Office post Shutdown
Mon, Aug 17, 2020
During these past few months quite a few things have changed in Switzerland. A Pandemic is passing through the Country, and a lot of places needed to adapt to that new reality. While a lot of things are happening, we would like to focus on what is happening in the Offices and how existing and new digitalisation techniques can be used to work effectively within these new constraints.
The impact of the Shutdown
Before the shutdown, a lot of office based companies where ran on the principle, that you have to work in the same office to be a team. Homeoffice was a frequently talked about bonus given on special occasions or used to advertise for workplaces but mostly limited. Homeoffice was considered a luxury. But with the shutdown that had to change. while it was still considered a luxury, it was seen as the lesser evil compared to ceasing operations completely. While the beginning was a bit shaky for some, knowledge on how to address these issues was circulated fast, and existing Technology that had been put into the storage closet, because surely nobody would want to ever use it got put into action again. The myth of physical presence got exposed for what it was, a myth. You need presence and communication to act collaboratively , but that does not need to be physical. In fact a virtual collaboration offers many benefits over the physical one. Interruptions are more manageable, as it is simply not possible to walk to someones desk and ask for something to get done next week. Communication can easily be switched, to be asynchronous by the receiver and thus focus can be maintained.
Creating a successful digital workplace
While focus is a good part of a functioning workplace there is also other parts, that a functioning workplace needs. These parts are:
- Social connection between collaborating parties
- A place to manage a list of tasks
- Storage for knowledge that is visible by everybody in the organisation
- Space for Humor
This realisation is not new. It is used by many companies, some even going so far as to not have any offices at all like the code hosting service GitLab. While OpenFlowLabs is a new company we are spread over two continents. Europe and South America. To keep in contact with each other we use a couple of existing tools, that have emerged over the past few years. Maintaining social connection is one of the simplest things to start doing, as the technology for that has been available for decades. e-Mail and Chat software allow communicating easily and asynchronously with each other. While that works for most things, sometimes there is a need to do a work session together. For this Zoom and other Videoconferencing tools like Jitsi work wonders. While they need a stable internet connection they make it possible to interact on Online documents while talking normally with each other as if we are in the same office together. For new startups like OpenFlowLabs, these work sessions are organised quite naturally and chaotically. We leave space for social connection, jokes, and grabbing coffee/tea. Zoom has features including digital backgrounds and screenshots which can be used to creatively play during meetings and keep a sense of Humor. For bigger companies where people have a lot of tasks and very little time it becomes more useful to push the socialising part into its own meetings. Especially if the meeting is already packed with other things to discuss.
Mastering Scaling by mastering Remote work
When one starts to investigate the effects that scale have on companies, it becomes quite obvious, that all offices are in fact remote offices. As soon as a Organisation has more than 10 people. One office is too big to fit all employees. And as soon as there are more than 100 people, Natural physical contact cannot be kept. Especially if more than one office complex in more than one city is involved. People always try to circumnavigate that aspect, by merging offices, trying to consolidate. Some famous examples in Switzerland ended up causing so much train traffic increase, that certain trains where out of seats during rush hours. People don’t change living arrangements because the office decided to move them around. So that means at a certain scale companies have to master remote and digital working. The sooner one starts to integrate this into the daily workflow the more experience one can gather for that. We are starting from the beginning with this to be prepared for when we are scaling. And you should too!
Would you like to use more remote working tools like we do and need some help getting started? Contact us via mail at firstname.lastname@example.org