Our Journey with Remote Work at Firstbird
On Monday March 16th, we started mandatory home office for our entire team. Compared to other companies, we felt fairly prepared. We have a culture of home office and frequently have 40-50% of our team working from home on any given day of the week. We are well set up in terms of communication channels, tech systems and working style – still, it has been an adjustment. We are sharing what we have learned from our first weeks of home office in hopes it might help you and your company adjust to our new “normal” in terms of our work life. You can catch up on what happened in the second week here.
Week 3 onwards: We are at home in a crisis trying to work.
By week three, we all adjusted our mindset. The adrenaline rush of the first few weeks had dissipated and we started to establish a new way forward. Where the first few weeks saw little disruption to our work, by week three patience of parents was waning and sharing your home with your work was quickly getting old. We had to tackle new challenges which included our team’s changing personal well-being and translating our performance management methods to prepare for the next quarter.
Personal well-being: caring for our team
One of the biggest challenges in supporting a team during remote work is understanding what their mindset and mentality are when you are not able to interact face-to-face. In the office, you usually pick up the team’s emotions when you walk into their workspace or participate in one of their meetings. One of the biggest challenges we experienced so far is that this was not possible anymore. In this very stressful and insecure time, we couldn’t get a feeling for people’s emotions as a whole. What we could do was individual check-ins with each team member by our HR team and their team leaders.
Through individual check-ins, we learned that our team members were facing increasing stress levels. The crisis and the challenges that come with it create a lot of stress and urgency for a lot of teams and individuals. Preventing stress in a remote work setting is vital but challenging when so many factors over which we had no control (workspace, family life, etc.) contribute to stress. We decided to focus on what we could control which was to provide as much stability and clarity as possible in our team’s work-life. We continued to check in with our team members one-to-one, spending significant time asking them about their stress and personal well-being. We also decided to try to continue to amp up the fun by launching new social activities and events.
We also learned that a root cause of some team members’ stress was pain! People started getting sore backs and necks from working at their kitchen table, couches, or wherever they had space. We decided to prepare for being in home office for months not weeks and facilitated the delivery of office equipment to everyone in need – be it a proper office chair or larger screen. This helped our team members feel both cared for and more productive at home.
Lastly, we tried to pay special attention to our newer team members – those who had only been with us a few months or weeks. It can get especially challenging for people who are new to the company and don’t have too many personal connections who they can share personal issues and challenges with. We had more frequent check-ins with them and spent time chatting about their well-being.
Performance management from home
Although we had already achieved a high quality in OKR based target setting, planning and collaborating, we still experienced challenges to keep our pace and quality during remote work. In order to adapt to our new reality, we made the following changes:
- Introducing stricter project management and goal tracking to make progress transparent across the organization regardless of department.
- Working closely with our Facilitators, who are responsible for running and moderating meetings in every team, to improve collaboration and adapt to remote work. Some teams introduced digital retrospective tools like retro.tools to improve this vital instrument for team collaboration.
- Launching a company-wide KPI dashboard that will provide every member in our organisation with daily updated data from all our teams including our cash flow, the account balance or the number of generated leads.
All these initiatives have helped us adapt to work at home in this crisis and we hope have set us up to continue over the coming weeks and months.