Not aiming to advertise Fluix at all right now, I do want to mention that Fluix is all about helping teams to work more productively on the go, bridging gaps between those in the field and at the office. So no wonder we as a team are trying to live up to the principles of our own product and have practiced working with each other from various locations for quite a while now.
I have to be honest here and admit that we have not yet mastered it, no fooling ourselves. There’s lots of room for improvement. However, over the years I’ve personally experimented with what it means for the Fluix team to achieve our goals despite not sharing one workplace and the good thing is – I definitely see progress. So, how is that progress achieved? A couple of principles need to be put in place, from my point of view:
1. Practice remote work more often than just during force major
We have a number of teammates living and working from all across the globe. Hire talented people and don’t be scared of re-organizing some of your processes to accommodate those who are not right next to you at the office. Learn how to work remotely yourself to understand what it takes to do it and how you’re perceived by colleagues and what needs to be in place for you to stay productive and in the loop.
2. Have routine regular events on your team’s calendar. Don’t break the pulse.
The more predictable the routine, the better. Yes, at first it’ll be important to remind the team when and where (tool) some events take place, but after a while a habit gets created and everyone knows what’s happening, where to go and whom to ask. But try to stick to the routine for at least some major team events without re-scheduling and/or changing tools on the fly.
3. Communicate and ask. Don’t assume others understand and know.
Lately I’ve just not heard the end of it. Everyone is writing, urging and asking teams to over-communicate not to lose track of what’s going on. But does everyone understand what it really means? My suggestion here is: choose just 2 or 3 team communication apps max to use for regular communication and stay on top of those. Make sure everyone on the team uses those same tools throughout the workday.
4. Document pretty much any decision made. Try to stick to just a few sources of truth.
From personal experience, it’s really easy to miss important decisions made by your team in some channel / offline / on a call in which you did not participate. In a good case scenario, sometimes it doesn’t even matter. Let’s be honest here, you can’t and don’t want to know and be involved in everything. When things go astray though…then it gets real bad. Keep decisions, ideas and suggestions organised. But again – see principle #1 – it cannot be achieved overnight. It takes time and lots of diligent practice.
Below I’ll try to illustrate how we organize our Fluix remote (and not only) collaboration on a daily basis and hopefully, some of these would be helpful to others:
- each Fluix micro team has own standups. They are usually daily and allow all team members to stay on track and keep the pulse. Each team chooses their own means of communication and documenting their targets and progress, but everyone must have access to those and know what they are.
- monthly product roadmap sync up. The pulse here is: stick to having one each month to track progress on the roadmap and sync up to see if there are any blockers or questions for each other. Or even a change of plans and updates we need to pencil in our roadmap. Usually product team leads participate in these as there’s quite a lot of inter-dependencies between teams at Fluix.
- weekly sales/marketing standup. For Fluix it’s an extremely important focus area right now. Hence, our sales and marketing teams share numbers, stories, plans, and issues they are having on a weekly basis.
- weekly or bi-weekly 1:1s – never underestimate these. It’s one conclusion I’ve made since I started to have them regularly half a year ago. Continuous feedback (to both sides of the conversation) not only keeps up the spirits and makes us closer as a team, but also helps identify blind spots, hurdles and emotional ups and downs that lead to progress or lack of such.we start every Fluix week (regardless of where we all are) with a Monday all-hands standup.
For over 6 years now the 10 AM slot is on the calendar and it’s a tradition that’s become a habit. Our internal team’s conferencing tool of choice, for now, is Google Hangouts (quick note – due to the situation in the world Google allows everyone to upgrade to all premium features for free till July 2020 and one thing we’re already making use of is recording meetings for future reference). The main goal of the standup is to share updates from last week, sync up on cross-team matters, and share plans for next week. However, prior to the in-person all-hands meeting, on Friday and over the weekend each micro-team adds notes for all to review in the Slack channel (our corporate messenger of choice) with the respective name: #fluix-monday-standup. Clear cut and extremely effective for keeping everyone on the same page.
Our sources of truth are:
- Confluence by Atlassian for everything Fluix-Knowledge-base related
- Jira by Atlassian for everything product development related – from design to development to feature requests and user stories to promoting features and marketing
- Github – everything Fluix code-related
- Abstract – everything Fluix design-related
- Dropbox Paper and Google Drive folders and documents / slides for all our creative narratives, collaboration on unfinished projects and final versions of those
- Hubspot – everything related to customers and prospects.
Other team communication apps we use:
- Google Hangouts is getting more and more popular for internal online video meetings and workshops
- Zoom.us for most of the external calls and online sessions/demos with customers
- Slack for our messaging purposes
- Spark – kudos to the Readdle team as it’s a great email app that allows us to actually collaborate on emails, comment off, and share them with those who need to participate.
And if your team needs to somehow capture customer signatures remotely and can’t do it now due to limited visitation OR you still need to perform those inspections in the field and fill out lots of paperwork OR you’d like contactless patient information added to your medical database, just take a look at Fluix. Play with mobile forms, put together a couple of simple yet powerful workflows and help your team be as productive as always.
I tried to put together some useful tips for working remotely, but I guess one thing I’d like to conclude this with is: do not despair! Not in today’s uncertain times and not ever. We’re all in this together worldwide and as King Solomon once said: “This too shall pass”. I’m sure we’ll all come out of this situation stronger as people and will definitely learn a lot of new ways to work, cooperate and lead.