Most of the world has been forced to transition to work-from-home over the last few weeks.

I recently caught up with my friend Morten. He runs Plytix, a B2B SaaS company in the retail industry.

We often chat about remote work and I try to convince him that he could take his team 100% remote, however he never seems to agree with me completely. Gotta love a good debate!

He sees many of the benefits and believes that in order to foster a good working culture, you need to be working with your team on-site. At least, most of the time.

Enter the outbreak of Covid-19… He was forced to take his team fully remote. Two weeks in, I asked for his feedback on the transition.

Here’s what he had to say, enters Morten:

As many other B2B SaaS companies, we suddenly went from physically working together in a shared space, to everyone needing to immediately transfer to a home office situation. Separately. No coffee shop trips, no bringing in last night’s banana bread experiment for everyone to try, no getting together at lunchtime to listen to our Head of Customer Success tell us his fact of the day. All these small things that added up to make a solid work environment were swiftly cut off.

It’s easy to spiral into panic and feel overwhelmed, but we did a few concrete things as a company to proactively deal with a sudden self-quarantine and enhance the way we work from home. Instead of all freaking out, we came together, and logically laid out a plan to come out of this even stronger. We know what you may be thinking - no we didn’t join hands, burn palo santo and start singing Kumbaya. You know full well joining hands is a no-go now. Kumbaya was sung at least 6 feet apart from each other.

Just an average work day

As we prepared for the transition of our entire team working from home, I (having come from a military background and experienced a quarantine before) gathered the management to align ourselves to communicate the importance of doing things as normal. That means getting up each day, having a shower and getting dressed as if we are coming into work. If you wear makeup to work for instance, put it on as you normally would. Would we usually stroll into the office in our pyjamas? Sounds great, but no. We advised our team to set up their routine like any other day, in order to keep our motivation and our sanity.

Holding on to our culture

A lot of what makes a good culture, is all the chatter in between meetings, and hanging out in the micro-kitchens. In our management team we discussed how we could foster such behaviour now that we can’t physically meet by the water-cooler no more. Our Product Manager came up with a simple proposal that we could set up and slack-channel with a permanent video link she aptly named “Watercooler” that we can all jump in and out of whenever we feel the need to casually see and speak to each other. Small talk in the kitchen may not be possible right now, but having a common place to come together, even if just virtually, does wonders for our sanity. Another rule we put in place was that we’d start each internal meeting with at least 5-10 minutes small talk before we launch into the topic of the meeting.  

Having two people from Ireland on the team meant that we were going to have to celebrate St Patrick’s Day one way or another. We all jumped on a group video call with beers after lunch, and we got to kick back and enjoy a catch up and virtual cheers with the whole team. We even had a few curious smaller faces popping into view and got to meet some of the Developers’ kids!

To end off our week, we have a Stretch and Sip session every Friday afternoon run by our Social Media Specialist (and spare time yogi) where we all get on a call with a drink in hand (have you noticed a pattern here?) and do some much-needed stretching.

Order in the chaos

We make full use of our cloud calendar app. Slotting in blocks of tasks is super useful, if not for our team to see what we’re working on and when, then more just for ourselves. It’s a productivity game-changer, and quite satisfying to be able to look back at what we’ve achieved from one day to the next. In times of crisis, we turn to the little OCD monster inside of us all, to give us some sense of structure.

Sticking together separately

We can imagine some of these ideas aren’t new for a lot of you out there who might be fully accustomed to remote life, however, it’s safe to say that being completely bound to your home is something new for all of us. We’d like to hear who else had to make this transition as lightning fast as we did, and like us, weren’t completely ready for it. Do you have any wacky ideas for keeping the morale up and the culture strong?

Thanks for sharing, Morten!

They had a swift transition, it feels likes their strong culture helped with the transition to all-remote. We would love to hear your thoughts:

How are you as an individual or team finding the transition to this new normal? We’d love to hear some other ideas and perspectives!

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