How to start working remotely with 100+ employees in 5 countries
by GetAccept, on March 13, 2020
As of yesterday we closed down our offices and initiated a work from home policy, restricting all business travel and meetings. As a company with many employees that gather energy from social interactions, to some, this was a very drastic decision. With a strong office and team culture we knew that this wouldn't be possible without a clear implementation plan.
So why did we do it?
We own our decisions
With the turbulence going on in the world right now we knew that this decision probably would come sooner or later. We got questions from employees and some were really worried about the situation. A key belief was that if we could come up with clear directions and guidelines early on, we could also turn this into something positive, and control the situation rather than having it control us - and avoid taking unstructured decisions in panic later.
Employees and people first
Our employees are our top priority, and to protect them, and the wider society, we felt that we needed to do what we could to minimize the risk of spreading any virus further, and also minimize the strain on the public health care. Even if we probably won't be able to protect our employees fully, this decision will minimize the risk of many employees getting sick at the same time. This ensures that no critical functions of the company fail, so we can continue to deliver for our customers.
With clear goals and expectations already in place, we had no doubt that all our employees would continue to deliver excellence and bring us closer to our goals, no matter where they were located. With the removed distractions of office life, we might even be a bit more efficient.
We have always taken pride in that we are a fully digital and data driven company, and we have the right tools in place to enable that - everything from Slack for Chat/Video calls and Zoom for video conferencing, to Hubspot and Intercom for managing customer and to-dos. But we are well aware that some processes that we think will work, probably will fail, and that we quickly need to address them. We have built GetAccept with the belief that the world is becoming more digital, and this is a great way of accelerating our digital transformation.
How did we do it?
Take the decision together
Make a structured decision. Base it on facts and data, and make sure to have everyones acceptance from management level. In our case, everyone wasn’t on the same page when we started the discussion, but in the end we made the decision together, and now we can inform everyone as one team without any uncertainties.
Information is key
After the actual decision was made by an unanimous management team, we knew we needed to communicate this in a clear and timely manner. We put together an information package to all employees, which outlined the important parts of the change. We made sure to include the WHY, HOW and WHEN in a clear way. The package included both emails, slack messages and a video meeting, to catch any questions or worries - and to repeat information. We also made sure that all managers got a clear tool box that they could use with their team.
We knew that some teams were more prepared and had practiced working from home more frequently in the past, and some teams were newer to the concept. But we realized that it is a big difference in having some employees working from home some days, to having all employees working from home for a long time.
Some of the actions and tools we used were:
All teams needed to have their own workshop asap to figure out what works best for them and how they should set up the remote work for each individual person and as a team. Things that were to be discussed was how to communicate, which team meetings to have, what behaviour is now important to reach our goals etc.
We encourage all teams to have a short kick-off video meeting every morning. In the meeting everyone can check in and share their most important to-dos for the day and ask for any help, much like the development teams do in their daily stand ups. This way everyone commits to what to do that day (most importantly to themselves), while it brings the team together.
Live Video Lunch and "Fika"
To keep some of the strong GetAccept office vibe and socialization we are used to, we started a joint video meeting link where everyone can join while eating lunch at home. We also did a joint link for the very important Three-o'clock-fika (coffee)! To add to the excitement, we will also start with a Live Lunch Quiz every day, to choose the “Work-from-home Quiz Master of the day”.
It should be super clear for all employees how and where we communicate peer to peer, within the team and how information is spread throughout the company. Our communication strategy was therefore updated, re-launched and clearly stated over all channels, regarding what we can expect from each other.
Leadership from home
Even if we have clear goals on all employees we know that when starting to work fully remotely we need to take this to the next level. Expectations need to be even more clear, both long and short term. Each manager is encouraged to have more frequent 1-to-1 meetings with all team members, with clear agendas and follow up actions. We have also set up a weekly meeting with all managers, to gather feedback, share best practices and take the important decision if we are to continue the Work Remote policy yet another week!
It is still early days for this way of working but we strongly believe that this will be an opportunity to grow even more as a team and improve our way of working. And we know that no matter how this global crisis will end, we can look back and feel secure that we made a decision - and ran with it!