Home office is a communication topic

March 13, 2020

Home office is in our DNA. We have done this from the beginning. This is why we want to share some experiences with you that might help you in the current situation.

Of course, home office is only possible if you are not dependent on your clients visiting you. And there are some hardware and software requirements. Apart from this it is mainly about learning a new way of communication.

At the beginning and whenever somebody starts working at SnipClip communication is too much focused on informing the manager. It’s way more important that the team somebody is working in knows if somebody is sick for example than informing the manager about it. If you are in a leadership position encourage your employees to communicate within their team rather than letting you know. It makes your live easier also.

Communication tools are essential, but it doesn’t matter which ones you choose. We use Slack, we could also use Teams. It is important that all means to communicate are available – chat, audio, video, screen sharing. I read a lot about video conferences at the moment. For us they are not essential. Screen sharing is the most important aspect for us. But of course, it depends on your business and on your culture. You can use one tool that fits all or have different ones. Either way the tools will not decide on successful communication.

What’s more important are rules and processes. We are a rather small company. We are very agile, changing the way we work and on what we work pretty often. But this does not mean that we do not have rules and processes. They help us focus on our work. If rules and processes don’t work as we expect we change them. We try out something new until we get the results we want. Why is this important? You also need rules and processes for your communication. It’s not an easy job to define them when you are not familiar with everybody or part of the team doing home office. We encourage you to think about processes and make rules. You can change them if they do not work. It’s better to have them, otherwise there will be a lot of misunderstandings and some might complain about home office in general though the issues are not about home office but about a lack of communication.

Examples

  • When you get to the office and you are not a rude person you probably say good morning to everybody you see. You might even open a door and say good morning to somebody. Do the same when you start working from home. You do not have to say good morning to every single person but to the team. Ask your team to do so. If everybody says good morning everybody else knows she or he is available now.
  • If you use Slack or Teams you can talk to one colleague, to a group of colleagues, inside a channel or to everybody. Try to use channels as much as possible. Often, a conversation starts between you and a colleague. Then you realize that the topic is relevant to more people. You can add them to a group. But the topic might belong to a project. If you started the conversation in a project channel from the beginning, you would not have to inform everybody belonging to this channel what has been discussed already. And colleagues who are not online at the moment can read the conversation later on and do not miss out any information. So, encourage communication in channels rather than one on ones.
  • When it’s clear what has to be done use special tools, so that tasks are assigned and teams know who is working on what, what the dependencies are and so on. Again, it’s not important which tool you choose, it’s important to have a transparent process when you are not sharing an office where everybody can have a look what’s going on. Even, if you are not familiar with how to organize tasks for a distributed team, make some rules, try them out and adjust them instead of just “gaining experience”.

We hope that you will succeed with switching to home office. It gives us freedom to stay with our families when we want to, we do not have to take a day off if we have to stay home for some reason and we can choose where to work depending on our tasks and the environment we think is best. At the moment we know that we will be able to serve its clients even if nobody will be at the office.

If you want to discuss any questions you are having at the moment, feel free to ask. We are happy to share our knowledge and our experience.