How to Seamlessly Transition to Remote Work
By: Saige Driver
Long before the word COVID-19 was in the news, Aptera started hiring remote developers and implemented a remote-first mentality. Because of this change, our teams were uniquely qualified for the complete shift to remote work – including our in-office staff.
While we’ve made the transition to remote work as seamless as possible, we understand this isn’t the case for every team. It can be tough to completely change your work routine overnight. To help teams and businesses who may be struggling, we outlined how we’ve made the transition, tips we’ve learned along the way, and how you can help your team navigate these strange times.
Implement a Remote-First Mentality
Project Manager Andrew McNair has managed a variety of software development projects throughout his six years at Aptera. He’s currently working with a team that’s scattered across time zones.
“When we first started with the project team I’m mostly working with now, we had a Product Owner in Nashville and a developer in Michigan,” he explained. “At first, we did normal conference calls, and we often had everyone local come into my office.”
When they had those meetings, everyone was in one room except for the developer who was looking at a screen with a bunch of people who were all chatting – sometimes at the screen, but other times to each other.
During a Sprint Retrospective, it came up that the remote developer sometimes had trouble following the conversation during the conference calls. They decided to start doing “remote-first” meetings. Meaning that if one person was remote, the entire team was remote and would call in from their own laptops. This mentality creates an even playing field for everyone on the call.
Since then, the majority of Aptera tries to adhere to this approach. And, because the teams have experience tuning into meetings remotely, logging in from their home offices hasn’t been much of a change.
Even when COVID-19 has cleared up and you’re back in your office, consider still working with a remote-first mentality. Not only does it prepare your team for disruptions, but it helps remote workers better parse out conversations and keeps all employees on the same page.
Chat About Remote Problems
While the idea of remote-first meetings came out of a Retrospective more than a year ago, we’re still brainstorming ways to make remote work easier. One way we’ve found particularly helpful is a Slack channel dedicated for remote work. At first, the channel was set up for remote workers, but now that the entire company is remote, it’s seeing more use as the employees who were already remote are offering their tips.
Daily Standups and Retrospectives are also great times to brainstorm solutions to challenges that arise from remote work. Ask your team members how they’re doing, what problems they’re running into, and how you can help.
Use Communication Tools to Recreate In-Office Interactions
Aptera has been using communication tools like Zoom and Slack for internal and external communications for years. Since our teams have meetings with clients across the country, we use these tools to facilitate conversations and meetings.
Now that everyone is remote, we’ve relied on these tools more heavily. With Zoom, Aptera holds company-wide townhalls and Employee Recognition Meetings with more than 90 people present.
Before the outbreak, we had started instituting all-day Zoom rooms so teams with remote workers can mob and work together. Since the outbreak, Zoom rooms have become even more valuable because team members can just drop in and talk to their team at any time.
Along with using these tools for communicating with project teams, Andrew recommends using communication tools and implementing a remote-first mentality to your social life. He considers himself an “office rat” and misses watercooler chats. To combat that, he created similar experiences over Zoom.
“Take the same remote-first mentality to your social life,” he said. “Having a group of people try to get together every day and communicate in the same even playing field – you’re communicating with your social coworkers the same way you’re communicating with your project coworkers.”
We hope our experiences before COVID-19 and how it prepared us for remote work helps spark some ideas for you and your team, and you’re able to keep up productivity whether at home or in-office. Learn more about Aptera’s high-performing remote teams and consulting services on our website.
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About Saige Driver
Saige is a social media coordinator for Aptera. She received her Bachelor's degree in Journalism and Telecommunications from Ball State University. Since graduating, she has been writing and learning about social media. She loves reading and her beagle mix, Millie.