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Maintain A Strong Culture with a Remote Team

✅ Get dressed 

✅ Coffee, coffee, coffee 

✅ Get out of house

✅ Morning chat with office mate

✅ More morning elixir: Coffee, yerba mate or chai? ¯\(ツ)

= Let’s get this day started! 

Not that long ago, this was most of us, a daily morning routine that brought teams together. And then it quickly went away. Lockdown - kids at home, toilet paper sold out, us asking ourselves, “How are we going to do this?”

Like most of you, we had to make changes in our way of living and working due to COVID-19. Recently, the second wave has hit us here in Canada.

With teams located in Europe and North America, we are used to seeing and meeting each other on screens at ungodly hours. Fortune on our side, transitioning into a fully-remote workforce turned out to be not as big of a challenge for us as it was for others. You'll even hear some of our teammates say that our communication is better than usual as a result of working remotely.

We’ve collected some observations of our transition and wanted to share a few with you. Here are some tips that helped us maintain our culture and help drive our customers to succeed.

We hope you find it helpful.

Tips to drive collaboration and productivity

Creating a remote-work friendly environment

A prerequisite for success is to have the right tools in place for remote work. As a global agency, it's not uncommon for us to work at our customer's premises, or even have clients located in a different country. Remote work is not new to us. We all have laptops, and we are accustomed to attending virtual meetings. Slack is a tool that we use daily to communicate with each other; therefore, everyone gets the same information independent of where they are.

Another way of making remote work functional is by sharing tips and best practices. We have established guidelines to maintain productivity and keep things running smoothly at home. For example, we encourage everyone to:

  • Pick anything they need from the office, like monitors, chairs, headsets, electric standup desks etc.
  • Get up in time, get dressed, and start working as you would if you would come to the office
  • Maybe take a walk in the morning to simulate the commute
  • Remember to take breaks as you do at the office
  • Keep having casual, work-unrelated chats with your teammates to maintain the bonds you’ve built

With strict health and safety protocols in place, parents are likely keeping their children home much more often than before, and consequently, we extended our flexi-time. In doing so, people can divide their working hours between 6 am and 10 pm, creating a schedule that works best for them. The goal is to empower people to do the work they love safely and flexibly.

Nurturing the company culture and teamwork

Vancouver Team’s Friday Happy Hour

Making the environment as friendly as possible for remote work is one thing, but how do you keep spirits up and nurture the workplace culture when everyone is physically separated? Luckily, many tools allow you to keep in touch through chats or video calls. These tools have now become our virtual office, the new space where we communicate and socialize.

Embracing Rituals

Usually, we enjoy breakfast together at the office every Monday. It's our way to hear the latest news and share updates. To maintain this and nurture the fellowship, we have set up a virtual Monday morning breakfast. In addition to this, we have a virtual coffee break on Friday afternoons.

We see value in being able to socialize with one another. We encourage all teams to have regular video meetings. It allows everyone to keep the group updated with what's going on, find out if someone needs help, and make sure that no one feels left alone at their home office. In all video calls, we ask people to have their cameras on to see each other and get a semblance of being together.

Stay Transparent

When physically working together in the same office, we take many things for granted, such as knowing what colleagues are working on. Another excellent way to maintain communication is by setting up a slackbot for daily standups. These online standups allow our teams to synchronize and provide a quick status update regularly. Each morning everyone shortly writes what's on their schedule for the day. It's made the work that we do much more transparent, and I think it promotes collaboration. Everyone knows what the other is doing. We avoid people working on the same thing, and we get timely, helpful input from colleagues, and we can offer or ask for support where it’s needed. This practice keeps the team aligned and communication vital.

We are social beings. Usually, we participated in coffee break activities, like jigsaw puzzles, foosball, ping pong and billiard. In the new normal, we have virtual Happy Hours with goodie bags delivered to us, and we’ve released a weekly Slack challenge - Let's see who can build the best toilet paper fort!

Digitalist 2020 Quarantine Olympics: ‘Athletes’ put their skills to the test to win 1st place and bragging rights. ’Book Balancing Race: 4 attempts and one scared cat later, Puja’s  clocks in at 8seconds

Teamwork for the win!

Even though we are facing circumstances beyond our control and have to implement safety and health protocols that require us to physically distance, teamwork is possible.

At Digitalist, we describe our culture with the following terms: Empowered people, improving by learning, power of collaboration, and customer success. With the right tools and reimagined socialization practices, remote work can help businesses meet their goals and reinforce company culture.

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