At Notch, we started our remote journey a bit before COVID-19, but the scale was much smaller. The abrupt closure of office operations in many parts of Europe made us think fast and work hard on eliminating any obstacles in a week. This means we had to focus on the important and immediate things and leave some things for the 2nd stage.
As we are already working all-remote towards our clients in USA and Europe so some things were solved before:
- Everybody has laptops with cameras
- Our employees use video conferencing every day in their work
- We had part-time remote options in place and the culture around it
- All of our tools are cloud-based and accessible from home
- Most of our clients are already remote to us
Things we will leave for Stage #2
There are a lot of things to consider when going all-remote and a lot of transition is required in most areas of business operations. Some things we decided to touch upon in stage #2 and here is the rationale for postponing work on them for 4 weeks:
#1 Building safety nets for corporate culture
Most of our employees are integrated at this point and understand our culture. We have a buddy system in place, a lot of internal docs for onboarding and most people join established teams. We trust them to have our culture in mind during Stage #1.
#2 Onboarding process for new hires
We expect to hire people in the next 4–8 weeks, but not that many. This means that it is more efficient now to take extra care in onboarding these few, then building a new system with extensive documentation and FAQs
The five critical things
Which leaves us with the things that we focused on.
#1 We made sure that ALL our employees get ALL of the equipment at home
Within days, we delivered everything to everybody. Our Chief Operating Officer and Head Of Engineering have personally been delivering desks, chairs, displays and keyboards, along with others. Miha and Drago, you rock! Being agile in logistics was important, because we do not know when a full lockdown of our streets might start.
#2 A dedicated transition team is working in daily sprints
Chief Customer Officer, Chief Operating Officer, Human Resource Manager, an existing remote employee and two other subject matter experts are video conferencing at 9AM and again at 4PM and solving impediments in between. This is an extreme version of an iterative process or PDCA.
We also hired a brilliant consultant for remote work even before the COVID-19 outbreak and she is running the process for us. This made a huge difference.
#3 Talking more to our clients
This is a time of need for us and for them. We have to ensure they understand that we are 100% efficient. We also have to hear what they need in this situation.
And this is not only important on the Project or Account management perspective. We will ensure everybody at Agency04 talks more to their peers at the client side teams.
#4 Talking more internally
Staying together is important and we will focus on this the most. An all-hands meeting will be held on Monday and we will repeat them frequently. We will introduce new touch points for reporting. All our calls will be with video-on. Our (virtual) office hours will see some updates.
The engineering process works mostly within the Scrum framework and we count on it to keep people engaged. Non-engineering processes will get more deliberate communication protocols.
#5 Making sure that everybody feels safe and understands its role
This is a difficult process. It is not only a change in the work environment, but also a health crisis and a possible economic crisis. Moving to a remote office means that our employees stay healthy and do not feel threatened from COVID-19. But, that is only one side of the coin.
We need to make sure that our employees do not feel that their job is threatened. To do that, we will be open and honest about everybody’s role in keeping the engine running. This is the critical part and this will make us more resilient, connected and a stronger team long after this is over.