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How to Start a Remote Working Culture in Your Company

How to Start a Remote Working Culture in Your Company

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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Last Updated on February 11, 2021

10 Secrets of Making Every Presentation Fun, Engaging, and Enjoyable

10 Secrets of Making Every Presentation Fun, Engaging, and Enjoyable

Not a lot of people are good at public speaking. You could even say that virtually everyone needs to get some practice, and preferably good guidance, before they can learn to stay calm when facing a room full of people. Having all eyes on you is an uncomfortable experience and it takes time to get used to. However, even if you can manage to control your stage fright and stay focused, it doesn’t necessarily mean that your presentation won’t put people to sleep. This is usually the case with long presentations on a very dull subject, with the presenter speaking in a monotone voice and dimming the lights to play a PowerPoint presentation.

You have to work hard to develop the right skills

If you want to be remembered and actually get people engaged, you need to make your presentation fun and enjoyable, without coming off as corny or desperate to please. I know, it doesn’t sound that easy at all! A good presentation during a promotional event or given to an important client can be a game changer for your business, so it is easy to get stressed out and fail to perform all that well. Luckily, giving an interesting lecture is something that can be practiced and perfected. There is plenty of advice out there on the topic, but let’s look at the most important aspects of giving a memorable and fun presentation.

1. Make your presentation short and sweet

With very long, meandering speeches you tend to lose the audience pretty early on, and from then on out it’s just a test of endurance for the few bravest listeners. Not only will people’s attention start to drop rapidly after sitting and listening to you talk for 30 minutes, but you also risk watering down your core ideas and leaving your audience with little in the way of key phrases and important bits of information to take away from the whole ordeal. Famous speakers throughout history have known the importance of condensing the information by using well thought out sentences and short phrases loaded with meaning.

JFK’s famous: ”It’s not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country,” expresses so much in very few words and gets the audience thinking. Ancient Spartans, for example were famous for their quick, dry wit, often demolishing their opponent’s argument with a single word or phrase. You’ll want to channel that ancient spirit and be as concise as possible when preparing your presentation.

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2. Open up with a good ice breaker

At the beginning, you are new to the audience. There is no rapport, no trust and the atmosphere is fairly neutral. Even if some of the people there know you personally, the concept of you as an authority on a particular matter giving a speech will be foreign to them. The best way to encourage a warm and friendly atmosphere is to get some kind of emotional response out of the audience right at the beginning. It doesn’t matter what emotion it is, you just need to connect with them on a more personal level. It can be shock, curiosity, laughter, knowing smirks, nervousness – whatever gets them out of that initial feeling of indifference. There are different kinds of effective ice-breakers, but generally speaking, the most successful ones utilize one of these tactics:

  • Joking
  • Tugging on their heart strings
  • Dropping a bombastic statement
  • Telling an interesting and relevant anecdote
  • Using a metaphor or drawing comparisons

You can make a small, self-deprecating comment, stir the presentation one way and then suddenly surprise the audience, use sarcasm, open up with a short childhood story that taught you a lesson, quote a famous person and elaborate on it from personal experience, use an inspirational anecdote or hit them with a bit of nostalgia. Just remember to keep it short and move on once you’ve gotten a reaction.

3. Keep things simple and to the point

Once you’re done warming up the crowd you can ease them into the core concepts and important ideas that you will be presenting. Keep the same presentation style thoughout. If you’ve started off a bit ironic, using dry wit, you can’t just jump into a boring monologue. If you’ve started off with a bang, telling a couple of great little jokes and getting the crowd riled up, you have to keep them happy by throwing in little jokes here and there and being generally positive and energetic during the presentation. You need a certain structure that you won’t deviate too far from at any point. A good game plan consists of several important points that need to be addressed efficiently. This means moving on from one point to another in a logical manner, coming to a sound conclusion and making sure to accentuate the key information.

4. Use a healthy dose of humor

Some of the best speeches and presentations in the world, which have been heard and viewed by millions, all feature plenty of humor. No matter the subject, a great speaker will use natural charisma, humor and beautiful language to convey their points and get the crowd excited about what they are saying. A great example of building rapport with the audience through the use of humor is Barrack Obama talking about the government building Iron Man.

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It is silly and fun, and absolutely not something that you would expect from a man in a position of power speaking in such a serious setting – and it’s exactly why it works. The more serious the situation and the bigger the accent on proper social behavior, the harder your jokes will hit.

5. Try to tell a story instead of ranting

Some people can do all of the above things right and still manage to turn their short and fun little presentation into a chaotic mess of information. You don’t want your speech to look like you just threw a bunch of information in a blender in no particular order. To avoid rambling, create a strong structure. Start with the ice breaker, introduce the core concepts and your goals briefly, elaborate on the various points in a bit more detail, draw logical conclusions and leave your audience with a clear takeaway message. You want to flow naturally from one part to the next like you are telling a big story chapter by chapter.

6. Practice your delivery

Standing in front of the mirror and practicing a speech or presentation is a technique as old as mirrors – well, come to think of it, as old as human speech, since you can see yourself reflected in any clear and calm body of water – and that means that it is tried and true. The theory is incredibly simple, yet the real problem is actually putting in the effort day in and day out. Work on your posture, your tone of voice, accent, pauses between sentences and facial expressions. The most important thing is to talk slowly and loudly enough to be heard and understood clearly. Many famous speakers, such as Demosthenes and King George VI, overcame speech impediments through hard work.

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7. Move around and use your hands

Although you won’t instill confidence in your project if you are very jittery, moving around erratically, not knowing what to do with your hands and making fast movements, standing dead still can be just as bad. You shouldn’t be afraid to use your arms and hands when talking as it makes you seem more passionate and confident. The same goes for moving around and taking up some space. However, try to make slower, calculated and deliberate movements. You want your movements to seem powerful, yet effortless. You can achieve this through practice.

8. Engage the audience by making them relate

Sometimes you will lose the audience somewhat in techno-babble, numbers, graphs and abstract ideas. At that point it is important to reel them back in using some good, old-fashioned storytelling. Make comparisons to events from everyday life that most people are more than familiar with. By making things look simple, not only will you help your audience get a better understanding of the subject by enabling them to visualize the information more clearly, you will also draw a connection between you. After all, you are all just regular people with similar experience, you just happen to be performing different roles at the moment.

9. Use funny images in your slides

Although slides are not really necessary at all times, if you do need them to make your point and present your information more effectively, it’s best to liven them up. They say that facts aren’t always black and white, and your presentation should reflect this. Add a bit of color, make the information stand out and use an interesting animation to switch from slide to slide. You can use the slides to add some more humor, both in terms of the text and the images. An image that is used to elicit a positive response needs to be funny within the context of what you are discussing. For example, if you are discussing the topic of authority, an image of Eric Cartman from South Park in a police uniform, demanding that you respect his “authoritah,” is a nice way to have a bit of fun and lighten things up.

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10. End on a more serious note

When all is said and done you will want the audience to remember the core concepts and keep thinking about what you have said after the presentation is over. This is why you should let things naturally calm down and end with an important idea, quote or even a question. Plant a seed in their mind and make them think. Let us turn to Patrick Henry for a great way to end a speech: “Is life so dear or peace so sweet as to be purchased at the price of chains and slavery? Forbid it, Almighty God! I know not what course others may take; but as for me, give me liberty or give me death.”

As you can see, there is quite a bit to learn when it comes to giving a good presentation, one that is both memorable and fun. Be sure to work on your skills tirelessly and follow in the footsteps of great orators.

Featured photo credit: Austin Distel via unsplash.com

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