Like many others, Email Meter has switched to full remote this week in an effort to preserve the health and safety of our team. Even though most of the team usually work from our main headquarters in Madrid, this is nothing new for us; we believe in remote work and give people the opportunity to work wherever they want.
With the correct discipline and collaboration tools, it can be indistinguishable if someone is working remotely or in an office. Here, we've compiled a few habits, tools and tips to help you and your team transition to remote work.
🏡 Make your home workspace cool
Setting up a specific workspace at home helps your mind shift into focus: when you're there, you're working; when you're not, your mind can be elsewhere. Try to make this space comfortable and ergonomic, you don't want to end up with back strain from unhealthy positions!
It's important to get a proper desk, an ergonomic chair and an external monitor (some of us even prefer two or three). We find the main benefit of having your own workspace is that you have complete control over how it looks, so you can make it as cool as you'd like. 😎
At Email Meter, we want our employees to be as comfortable as possible. Not everybody has a great home office setup, so we help them upgrade it at the company's expense. They can buy anything they'd like as long as it makes them happier and more productive. Need new noise cancelling headphones? Cool. Do you want an aroma diffuser? Not a problem.
⏰ Find your daily ritual
Another benefit of working remotely is that you can distribute your time more flexibly, allowing you to focus on deep work while keeping a healthy work-life balance.
As you don't have people around you, it's easy to lose track of time and work beyond hours. That's why it's important to create a routine that works for you. Don't forget to have a few breaks, not only for your mind but also to move your body a little bit. At Email Meter we have weekly fitness challengers, and we're still doing them while working remote.
Once you find a schedule that works for you, communicate it to your team so everyone knows when you're available. We use shared Google Calendars on top of a #working-remotely channel on Slack. That way, everyone can announce when they start working, leave for lunch or take a break.
📣 Communicate a lot
The modern workplace is filled with instant communication tools like Slack, Zoom or WhatsApp, which can lead to spending more time talking than working. Every red notification bubble is a temptation to break away from real work.
Email is built with an implicit rule that you don't have to get back to people immediately. It frees both parties to be synced up, and forces everyone to give context on what they're writing about.
Important issues need time, context and accountability: if it's important, it shouldn't happen in the chat room. Our philosophy is that important and effective communications should always happen asynchronously over email. That way you can easily refer back to any issue and be sure you have the whole conversation in one place.
We still love chat! Like most companies, we use Slack as our real-time communication hub. It's a great tool to mimic the conversations you would have in an office environment. It can help people feel more connected to other parts of the company they might not normally talk to, even when they're together in an office. We have work related channels, but also affinity groups for music discovery, board games or fitness. We try to build a space to just hang out and talk about things unrelated to work, as you would do when you grab a coffee with a colleague.
🤟🏻 Was that meeting really necessary?
Not all meetings are intrinsically bad, but they can be a major distraction. It's important to define which meetings really need to happen and which could be avoided with a simple email. At Email Meter, we encourage our team not to consider meetings the norm, and strive to replace most of them with asynchronous communication.
Despite that, every morning each of our teams get together for a short meeting where everyones shares what they did yesterday, what they're doing today and discuss any problems they're facing. It improves communication, highlights progress and actually eliminates the need for other meetings.
We use Google Hangouts Meet for all our video calls (we love G Suite!). The access to every meeting is always included in each Google Calendar event, and its Slack connection updates your status automatically to show you as busy while you're in a meeting.
📓 Document everything you do!
As we work asynchronously, we sometimes need to have questions answered at times when co-workers aren't available. For this purpose, we use built on You Need A Wiki. We love it because it let us manage the content in Google Docs while still displaying the content in a beautiful and accessible way. It works as a searchable collective brain for everything work-related: processes, culture, policies... Instead of having someone on the team answering one question multiple times a day, it's answered once and made accessible to everyone in the company.
Anything that is repeated should be documented, and being able to just write it in Google Docs makes it really easy. We encourage everyone in the company to write down almost everything they do, so anyone can step in and take charge of a task in case the person responsible is not available.
There are a lot of resources about working remotely, from tips to books to company policies. Here are some that we love and recommend reading:
- Remote: Office Not Required from Jason Fried and David Hainemeier Hannson
- Resources for companies embracing remote work from GitLab
- 180 Tips for Remote Working from FYI
- How to build a remote work policy from G2
How is your company transitioning to remote work? Have something we should look at?
Feel free to send it to firstname.lastname@example.org or tweet us @EmailMeter 📩