COLLABORATION IN THE FACE OF UNPRECEDENTED CHALLENGE
If you are reading this, chances are you are in a job that is office based and you are facing an indeterminable future of remote working. Many of us will have clocked that people have practiced flexible and remote working for a long time, it has been the saviour for those of us needing to juggle life and work, of freelancers, or those who work in global organisations.
We are used to using the chance to work from home when you have to get a big piece of work done on a deadline or making sure you sit in a quiet space to get your thoughts on paper. But when you have a team to manage and you have to find new ways of collaborating, it can seem more daunting.
There are many other posts about how to ensure you look after yourself, and how to take breaks, organise a space to work, and keep a routine. They undoubtedly offer valuable advice and are worth a look. We’re in this for the long haul, central to how we can thrive in this time, is how we collaborate. We thought we’d share some pro tips about collaborating even when you aren’t next to each other.
ENGINE has teams of service designers, data and software engineers, research scientists, and strategists who are old hat at this. So, we’ve drawn on their experience to pull together a few ways of ensuring you can still readily support each other even if you aren’t sitting next to each other:
TECHNOLOGY IS OUR FRIEND RIGHT NOW
Slack and Zoom
We aren’t the first people to say this, but technology is our friend right now. On Zoom (or other video conferencing) get used to using the video function. It may feel awkward at first, but a team meeting where people share their faces is a delight. It is easier to connect to a dispersed group of people, and you can read body language, so the chances of people talking over each other are far more limited. As a participant, you are better placed not to get distracted as you are looking at each other or sharing screens. Slack is a great way to keep a team conversation going and have one to one chats, the gifs alone allow for humour, and we’ve added a function to ours that enables us to do shout outs for recognition. It all helps build a sense of connection even when dispersed.
Projects might look different, though will likely still proceed in some form. Using tools such as Trello/Jira, helpfully visualises and divides up tasks. You can assign tasks and work together on how to proceed something, and visually talk through what is blocking progress, helping a team to unpick how it can be overcome. The delivery manager can track tasks and ensure that progress is being made, and it gives a great visual aide to what can be a complex programme.
HAVE A PRODUCTIVE SOCIETY THAT ISN'T LIMITED BY CULTURES OF PRESENTEEISM
Sharing what your successes have been, prioritising your focus areas, and find new ways of taking stand-ups online, in the world of Agile. Getting into a routine of quick updates and respecting each other’s time, ensures transparency. It also helps to allow a project lead or manager to know where people are struggling and where extra support is needed.
What can employers do?
Well, we’ve hired people because we trusted them, and this is key. Working at home is not shirking at home. This may well prove to be a societal shift in how we work, enabling people to fit work around their lives, ensuring that we have a productive society that isn’t limited by cultures of presenteeism. And we now need to support them. There are assumptions often made about the setup people have at home, a space to work, or a high-speed connection. This situation can be steeped in privilege, and in an environment of fear, we can easily forget that not everyone has the same resources or ability to work in this way. So, as employers, there is value in checking in that people can work from home, that they are safe, and they have the resources they need.
If you aren’t sure how to approach this, or what the benefits of these tools are, do get in touch. We’d be happy to have a chat and share some of our approaches to using agile principles in all manner of spaces. Do email me directly on firstname.lastname@example.org.
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