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How to Start a Remote Working Culture in Your Company

How to Start a Remote Working Culture in Your Company
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Creating a remote working culture in a team that’s used to working in the same office is not just something simple to put in place. At Azendoo, we’re a team of 25 that’s been working in the same office in Bordeaux, France, for the past five years. But recently some of us had some life changes, and needed to move away from Bordeaux. Our lead developer moved to Brazil, our CS Manager went to Paris, and me, I ended up in the French Pyrenees.

But we didn’t want to quit our awesome jobs at Azendoo just because our lives were making us move away. So the founding team at Azendoo decided to adopt a new culture to welcome this new remote working organization. So from my team’s experience, here are 10 tips to switch from an in-office culture to a (partly) remote-working one.

From the team’s perspective

As a team, if you want to start working remotely, you first need to know that you have some challenges ahead. Make sure you use the right tools and methods to get your team on board (the remote workers as well as the ones still working in the office).

1. Create team routines

It’s very important to maintain strong bonds between your coworkers, even if they don’t see each other every day. So you need to create daily, or weekly, moments when your whole team is grouped together for a call or sharing information to make sure everyone is still going in the same direction.

For example, every Monday you can organize a stand-up meeting (in conference call for the remote workers) where everyone speaks about his/her objectives for the week.

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And at the end of the day, you can also ask your team members what they’ve accomplished during the day using tools like idonethis.

2. Create dual working teams

If part of your team is working from the office and another from home, the best way to strengthen relationships between your team members is to create dual working teams. These duos will work together on one or several projects, pushing them to communicate better, and keeping both of them essential to the project’s progress.

Alone we go faster, together we go further!

3. Keep a team calendar

Knowing where everyone is and when is very important for team synchronization. So keep a calendar (you can do this with a simple Google calendar) where every remote worker notes when they’re at home, at the office, or on the train. This way it will also be easier to organize team moments, to go out for a beer when everyone is at the office, or to just have lunch all together.

Don’t forget that spending quality time together is the key to happiness and work. Work is not just about work, it’s also about relationships.

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4. Use the right tools

The key to successful remote teams is to use the right tools to communicate and synchronize work. First, make sure you have a good microphone to organize team meetings via conference call (that you can organize with appear.in, for example).

But above all, use a collaborative application (like azendoo) to group your team discussions, tasks, and documents all in one place.

5. Keep a space in the office for the remote workers

It’s very important that your remote workers feel welcome when they come to work for a few days at the office. So make sure you always have a desk available for them. If they have to work in the kitchen or on the couch when they come to the office, they will definitely not come in very often!

From the remote worker’s perspective

Starting to work remotely is not as easy as you may think. You need to use the right tools and methods to stay productive and connected to your team.

1. Build a productive routine

Working from home is very different from working at the office. At home, you’re alone, so yes, it’s great to not be distracted by your teammates! But sometimes it can be hard to not have many human interactions during the day. So when you’re working from home you need to create routines that support a productive environment. For example, plan a call for the same time every day, each time with a different coworker (right after lunch, perhaps).

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You decide what the best routine is for you, but make sure to build one!

2. Create a safe work environment

Now that you’re staying at home to work, make sure your desk is as comfortable as the one you have in your office. Create a refined environment to avoid distraction. Make sure your home office feels like a real office so you can fully concentrate on the tasks you need to accomplish during the day. If you want to find inspiration, I recommend signing up for The Modern Desk newsletter – it’s full of great ideas and inspiration.

I also heard that having a cat at home helps you to be more productive, but I haven’t tried it yet ;-)

3. Communicate, communicate, communicate

The downside of working remotely is that you don’t meet Kevin and Sam at the coffee machine to have a quick chat, work-related or not. So make sure you communicate with your team as often as needed. A question to ask? Send a quick private message. Information to share? Post a message in your collaborative app. And above all, don’t hesitate to call your teammates when you need a quick and specific answer!

4. Get outside

Working from home makes you move less. You only need to walk from your bed to your coffee machine to your desk. So you need to make sure you’re moving during the day to keep your body awake. Whether it’s a run in the morning, a walk at lunch or a bike tour at the end of the day, plan at least 30 minutes every day for moving your body around!

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5. Go to the office whenever you can

Meeting face-to-face with your coworkers is an important thing, especially if only part of the team works remotely. Organize regular trips to the office, and when you’re there, spend time with your coworkers, discussing your projects as well as other non-work related things.

Moving from a totally in-office culture to a partly remote-working culture is not an easy task. But if you maintain the good habits you already have, there is no reason that it can’t work. Besides, allowing your employees to work remotely will help you keep talented people and create a stimulating feeling of confidence!

Featured photo credit: Startup Stock Photos via pexels.com

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Published on July 27, 2021

15 Smart Video Conferencing Etiquette Tips to Follow

15 Smart Video Conferencing Etiquette Tips to Follow
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During the pandemic, video conferencing replaced in-person meetings and has now become the standard option for business meetings. Over the past 17 months, most workers have gotten past the video conferencing learning curve with Zoom or Microsoft Teams (or their platform of choice).

But just as with in-person meetings, attention can wax and wane. Some say we’re just not used to staring at ourselves so much on the screen. Instead of fixating on that, try employing smart video conferencing etiquette, or you may risk indiscretions that will flag you as a slacker.

Put the Pro in Professional

After more than a year of fine-tuning, here are the new rules of video conferencing etiquette.

1. Mute Your Mobile and Other Devices

The first video conference etiquette you need to know is muting your other devices. Just as in the pre-COVID days, someone’s obnoxious ring tone blaring Taylor Swift’s newest single in the middle of a meeting is also an annoyance if it happens during a Zoom meeting and so is the inevitable fumbling to turn off the sound. Even the apologies to the group get tiresome.

Also, when notifications are activated on the computer that you’re using for the meeting, the incoming message takes over the audio and you’ll miss out on snippets of the conversation. Be sure to eliminate this possible faux pas.

2. Dress the Part

While working from home, you may have fallen into the habit of slipping on your comfiest T-shirt each day. Hey, no judgments! But before you log on to your video conference, try to make an effort with your appearance.

Depending on your company culture and the importance of your meeting, consider dressing the part of the professional whom you wish to project. It will help you feel more self-assured, and others will likely take you more seriously.

For women, wear light make-up, put on earrings, and make sure your blouse is crisply pressed. For men, show up freshly shaved. Wearing a crisp collared shirt in a solid color will usually suffice.

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Pro Tip: Stay away from wearing white or black, unless those colors look great on you. Consider wearing light blue or brown instead.

3. Stage Your Workspace

Have you noticed the backdrops of experts interviewed on news shows? Bookshelves and photographs are carefully curated, and no busy-patterned furniture or artwork is in sight.

Take note of what appears behind you when you choose the location of your video conferences. Piles of junk mail on the table or stacks of folded laundry on the couch will convey more about your personal life than you care to share. Make sure you remove clutter from the camera’s eye, and present a tidy, orderly workspace to your colleagues, coworkers, and bosses.

4. Put Some Thought Into Lighting and Perspective

Be aware that in a video conference, your computer camera can actually make you look up to ten pounds heavier depending on where you sit. But you can easily drop those added pounds by moving back from the screen to diminish the wide-angle distortion.

Frame your head on the screen by tilting the screen up or down. Also, it’s best to not place yourself in front of a window or bright light, which makes you appear in shadow. Instead, face the light source, moving it (or yourself) until you have a flattering amount of illumination. You can also purchase some small spotlights that allow you to add light as needed.

Pro Tip: If your lights add too much redness to your skin, consider counter-balancing with a green filter.

Remember That Half of Life Is Showing Up

5. Arrive on Time

In the old days of in-person meetings, it was nearly impossible to slip in late into a meeting unnoticed. In today’s video conferences, logging in late still shows poor form. Instead, strive to arrive five minutes early and get yourself settled.

Once the meeting is underway, the host may be less attentive about late arrivals waiting to be let in. Diverting the host’s attention away from the meeting with a tardy entry request is the ultimate giveaway that you didn’t honor the schedule. If you don’t want a black mark against you, log in on time.

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6. Turn on Your Video

Few people like to see their face on the screen, but buck up and turn on your camera in video conferences. In most cases, it’s better to be a face on a screen than a name in a blank square. Your statements will be more memorable when other meeting attendees can see you.

If you need to turn off the video, either because of a poor connection, some commotion in the room, or a need for a quick break, give a short explanation via the chat feature. Then, go back on video as soon as you’re able.

Pro Tip: Keep your explanation for your departure pithy. “Sorry! Doorbell rang. Back in five” says it all. Be sure to honor what you say in chat and really do return in five minutes.

7. Plan Ahead Before Sharing Your Screen

Don’t be one of those people who makes everyone else wait as you click through folders in search of a document. That’s just poor video conferencing etiquette. If you know you’ll need to share a document or video on your screen, prepare by pulling it out of its folder and onto your desktop. Also, clean up the files and folders on your desktop to reduce clutter and facilitate easy access. Close other programs like chat, calendar notifications, and email. Disable pop-up notifications to ensure there’ll be no unforeseen distractions.

Be sure to remind the host before the meeting that you’ll need them to activate the screen-sharing function. Show courtesy once you’re finished by hitting “stop share” to return to the screen with participants.

Attend to the Pesky Details

8. Make Sure That Meetings Remain Right-Sized

With the easy accessibility of video conferencing, it can be tempting to extend the meeting invitation beyond the core group and include everyone peripherally involved in a project. But just as with in-person meetings, the more people involved, the more unwieldy the meeting becomes.

Use good judgment when asking others to sit through a video conference so that you don’t needlessly take up others’ time and so that participants can be fully engaged.

9. Remember to “Unmute” Before You Speak

Most of us are likely able to count on one hand the number of video conferences when someone didn’t have to be reminded, “You’re on mute!” Forgetting to unmute before speaking has become one of the most common missteps in video conferencing.[1]

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Show everyone your impeccable video-conferencing poise by managing your mute feature with flawless control.

10. Stay on Point to Keep the Meeting Length in Check

As with in-person meetings, an agenda with assigned time limits for discussions remains necessary to keep a meeting focused. Data shows, however, that video conferencing can actually reduce meeting time.[2] Reasons include the elimination of commuting time and the ability to screen share and annotate to keep everyone on task.

Additionally, side conversations are virtually impossible with video conferencing now that you can no longer have back-and-forth exchanges with the person beside you.

Pro Tip: If you’re running the meeting, let attendees know in advance the protocol for the chat feature. Is it okay for them to “chat among themselves” or not? (See point 11, as well.)

Talking Has a Time and a Place

11. Chat Appropriately

Just like side conversations or texting in an in-person meeting, the use of the chat feature during a video conference can be disrespectful unless it’s directed to all participants. Hence, it’s good video conferencing etiquette to mind your use of the chat.

At the start of the meeting, you may want to ask the host if it’s alright for participants to use the chat feature. This allows them to disable it if they choose. Used appropriately, it can be a helpful tool to clarify or amplify an earlier point once the conversation has moved on or to let the group know that you need to sign off early (and why).

12. Use the “Raise Hand” Feature to Avoid Interruptions

The slight lag in many video conferences can result in speaking over another person if you attempt to jump into a conversation. To avoid this awkward interruption, indicate when you have something to add to the discussion with the raise-your-hand feature that signals the host you would like to speak. This effective meeting management device makes video conferencing run more smoothly, especially with a large group, but it must be activated and monitored by the host.

Pro Tip: For meetings of six to ten people, sometimes the old-fashioned raising of your physical hand may be the best option. But it’s up to the meeting host. Ask them what they would prefer, and follow that.

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13. Don’t Record the Session or Take Photos Without Prior Permission

In this case, not sharing is caring. The “sharing culture” made popular through social media has little place in video conferencing. Before recording a meeting or capturing a screenshot of the participants, always ask for consent in advance from the full roster of attendees. Knowing that a video conference will be photographed or recorded could have a bearing on what others are willing to discuss.

Manage Yourself

14. Minimize Distractions

While de-activating audio and video features can keep distractions from affecting the other participants, you will need to manage noise and disruptions on your end to give your full attention to the meeting.

Move out of high-traffic zones in your home, keep your door closed, and ask family members to be considerate.

15. Save Snacking for Later

Save snacking for later—or earlier. Eating while on video conference is a no-no. Munching in front of the group while close to the camera—as you are when video conferencing—subjects the participants to an up-close and (too) personal view of your food consumption process.

However, it’s perfectly fine to sip quietly from a glass of water or cup of coffee or tea. If the meeting threatens to last for more than two hours, you may want to ask the host in advance to schedule a five-minute break at the halfway point.

Final Thoughts

Even though bosses are now beginning to ask workers to spend some of their workdays on-site, up to 80 percent will permit employees to work remotely at least part of the time, which means more video conferencing in your future.[3] Mastering these video conferencing etiquette tips will help you dial in—as well as dial back—your participation and demonstrate your unwavering level of engagement to the team.

Featured photo credit: Chris Montgomery via unsplash.com

Reference

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