September 24, 2020
Like many of our clients, we suddenly had our entire team working from home (WFH) until the COVID-19 crisis passes. We love our space. We love its brick and beams, and shelves filled with books, and comfy sofas, and office dogs.
We can’t wait to be back there.
But given this is our new reality, we thought we’d share what’s working and what’s not as we embrace the virtues of collaborating virtually.
What’s working? Establishing communication channels:
When it suddenly became very real that we were all going to have to work remotely, I shuddered at the thought of a barrage of emails, texts, group chats and board posts to sort through– and having something fall through the cracks. Everyone has different communication styles and preferences, so in our first team meeting, we agreed as a team to zero in on a few select channels for specific purposes. Google Hangouts works well for asking questions. We prefer email for sharing work and communicating with clients because it’s more easily searched and archived for future reference. Text messaging is reserved for those urgent “you-need-to-look-at-this-now” communications.
What’s not? Relying on the same meeting cadence:
Making our weekly status meeting virtual seemed like a no-brainer. Just add a Zoom link and we were on our way. But we quickly realized that although a weekly status meeting was satisfactory when we were in the same space, that meeting needed to be much more frequent when we started working from home. So we implemented a daily 15-minute check-in to see each other via video – which allows us all to share how we’re doing, how our projects are going, and frankly, just feel connected. The fun side-effect of this is seeing how everyone sets up their home office backdrops…
What’s not? Google Meet vs. Zoom vs. Webex vs. Go-To-Meeting
I don’t think I’ve met anyone who loves web conferencing. I also don’t think I’ve managed yet to run one meeting that didn’t have some audio glitch, or someone who couldn’t sign in, or someone who couldn’t figure out how to mute themselves when their dog started barking in the background. (Okay, that was me, too.)
Just the other day, I was on four web conference calls each using four different software solutions. Some systems are far superior to others – and it’s funny to me how the free ones seem to be so much better than the expensive options. We’ve long had a subscription to Zoom, which is good for sharing files and recording meetings, not to mention has a filter that improves your online meeting presence. (!). But I must admit, we’ve been experimenting with the free version of Google Meet for our daily check-ins, and we love its easy set-up, as well as its video and audio clarity – especially when participants are in other countries.
What’s working? Cloud-based collaboration
Long before the COVID-19 crisis, we started using Trello to manage multi-program projects with clients. We had experimented with Basecamp but found Trello’s card system to be the ideal tool when it came to bringing together creative and linear thinkers. As part of our new strategic pricing model, we’ve been actively transitioning all our clients to Trello, and the timing couldn’t have been more perfect. Everyone loves the transparency and ability to see the status of individual projects within the context of a larger program.
What’s working? Having a WIKI
We’ve been actively working on making Parcel a self-managed business, one where each individual team member feels a sense of pride and ownership over the success of our brand. A big part of doing that was creating a company WIKI that reinforces not only the brand story but educates team members on all of the processes and details that go into maintaining our brand every day. Based on our success with this WIKI, we started building BrandOps for clients and are now teaching other entrepreneurs about these strategies and tactics through our newest venture, Iterate Strategy.
The verdict? WFH is what it is
Working from home isn’t what we envision as a long-term strategy. We’re creative people, and a huge source of our inspiration comes from being around other people. But we also didn’t envision a global pandemic, nor the host of other obstacles we’ve overcome over our 16 years in business.
That’s the point of being an entrepreneurial enterprise. You start out thinking you’re going one way – and with the right tools and strategies in place – often find yourself in a much better reality. So for now, we’ll use this opportunity to embrace these tools (and others we encounter), share them with you, and find inspiration in what we learn.
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