Despite the fact we planned to avoid content about COVID-19 we decided to share our approach to adapt the teams, employees and processes of a Software Development Company for this period which the whole world faces. We know you’re overwhelmed with the content these days, so, let’s get to the point.
The toughest challenge of all we can face during these times is to save and even upgrade the relationship between team members. It’s complicated to have empathy when you’re not connected daily and you never see your colleagues who are working at another project, department or even tasks.
Our HR department decided to take the next actions to improve the situation on this:
- Friday Party on the Couch. The first action which was made – we announced a weekly Friday Party on the Couch. Most of our team are young people who used to hang out and have fun especially when the time comes to the weekend. It’s a great chance for all of us to unite and relax. Though the idea is great and the event is having a good attendance we sometimes cancel this Friday event to allow us to miss even more each other. When making this kind of event you need to prepare yourself and have a good mediator for the event with the prepared list of topics and (or) games in order to make the event bright and not boring. So did we.
- Regular communication posts for chats. There is a kind of work (project/task) when no communication is required and you’re just doing your job solely. But in such a case you can lose the feeling of being a member of a team as there are no messages from your colleagues and even management if you’re having a 2-week task , for instance. That’s why the HR department prepared a list of topics for weekly posts made in our mutual chats. During one of the latest communication activities we discussed and suggested to each other different books for reading. This was cool and of course full of fun 🙂
- Regular HR 1:1. I don’t know how it’s common for others but in our team HR is a person to whom you can talk whenever you have a need on any topic. And these are always sincere private chats in most cases. We’re proud of this. And when you can not see your HR manager in office daily the barrier of getting in touch with the person is becoming higher. The solution for this is getting in touch with employees and making regular check-ins with them. It’s quite important to have it made sincerely and not as a to-do task, otherwise the person always feels the fake in communication.
- Regular Quarantine regime updates from the government. We made it easy for our team: once there is a true and confirmed regulation is signed by the government we notify everyone of our OSDB team. Our team members don’t need to check news daily and sort fake and true information. We do it for them, so they have less stress searching for the proper data through a jungle of earthshaking fakes.
Most of the companies say that they have always been ready for remote work and their processes are easily adaptable for it. But if their processes are adaptable for this, are they sure their Employees are ready for this?
So, we still added a couple of improvements for the remote processes.
- Regular productivity feedback from each manager (project, business, CTO, etc). And here our HR managers are very helpful again. Why? The reason for this is that HR managers have no involvement in the projects on a daily basis, no subjective judgement because of anything and they can have a helicopter view for the situation. Taking into account this advantage our HR managers grasp regular feedback from CTO, Project Managers, Tech Development Leaders and anyone who has someone under his/her management. It takes less than 5 minutes to share your thoughts on the person’s performance and it allows OSDB company to act immediately if the action is required. In such a way we don’t need to waste time waiting for a negative development result of a developer at the end of the sprint or a month when it’s so important to be sure that we’re delivering the best possible quality and speed we can.
- HR 1-1 meetings. Find our what is wrong? If CTO or Manager reports an issue in someone’s performance our HR manager can find out the reasoning. Yes, companies can be 100% sure their performance is not affected by having a remote work mode, but what does it cost for your employees? Sometimes, you have kids at home, sometimes dog and cat are doing a mess and it’s impossible to concentrate on your work. That’s why it’s not only important to improve business processes but also assist each of your team member to adapt their own daily process and support them.
- Daily meetings in a Chat mode. Another important update we’ve made: No DAILY VIDEO MEETINGS – Daily meetings are made in chat mode only now. Why? It took us up to 20-30 minutes each day when the development team was discussing the plans for a day. Though the team has a common project each team member has his/her own solo tasks and that’s why daily each team member wasted his/her time while waiting for others to discuss their tasks. Now we do it in a chat mode: You need to write what you accomplished yesterday, what you’re planning to accomplish today and tag a person for which you’re having a question.We’re doing it in Slack, so, it’s quite convenient to start a thread a reply to the questions of the developer. Also, your daily message in Slack is a notification for everyone that you’ve started your working day and you can be reached now. It’s quite important as our daily routine is mixed more with the working one now and once you’ve announced for everyone that you’re starting your working day you can feel better and everyone else has a notification for this for you.
- 40 minute rule: Each meeting has to be for 40 minutes at maximum. If your meeting is more than 40 minutes then in most cases you’re not prepared for it. There are meetings which require hours of communication, yes. But for most other meetings always take a step back and think: Are we using our time efficiently if we’re having a meeting for more than 40 minutes?
What else could we do or plan to do?
- Random chat for 5 minutes. A Ukrainian Unicorn Startup GitLab has 900+ employees working remotely around the world. GitLab team uses a great solution for their team members: Once per week or so they randomly pick 2 random people and get those in front of each other for a 5 minute small talk call. This way you emulate a “kitchen small talk” situation. Though it automatically forces their employees for this kind of conversation, they are really glad to meet the people they don’t know at all and they can better understand the company they’re working at.
- CEO, Stakeholders, Founders video message. Another tool to communicate with your people is to go in front of them and answer the questions they have. Though all the managers are communicating the current state of OSDB company and situation it’s always better to hear the details from the top management to be sure we’re all safe and moving forward. We haven’t used this tool yet but it’s in our to-do list.
These are the changes we’ve made for OSDB company during a first month period being on quarantine and at a fully remote mode.
We hope this article was helpful for you and you can use some of the tools for your company, project or team as well.
Stay safe and healthy!