For most of us at Forward Action, at least part of the week is spent working remotely. We took the decision to offer remote working when we set up shop in 2015, looking to give the team flexibility and a healthy work-life balance, while scouting talent from further afield – and we can’t really imagine it any other way.
But while remote working has plenty of benefits (lifestyle, quiet focus time, and a 30 second commute from sofa to desk being among our favourites) there can be some pitfalls too.
We’ve approached remote working like we approach everything else here at Forward Action – testing and innovating in search of best practice. Here are some of the things we’ve learned along the way.
1. Developing our relationship as a team is priceless
We place a lot of value on our team culture, and we didn’t want it to disappear with everyone working in different rooms. That’s why we kick off every day with a 15 minute video call to run through priorities (and answer a funny or interesting ice breaker!).
This daily contact is especially important since remote working has seen our team grow outside of London, and it’s not always easy to get together in person. Plus we get to know each other, bond and create those in-jokes that are a vital part of any workplace.
Remote working can also be a ‘feedback vacuum’, which is especially hard for new starters and colleagues with less professional experience – so we’ve made it a priority to praise and thank each other as much as we would in person. We’ve got a specific Slack channel the team uses just for this.
2. It’s easy to get glued to the spot
We all know how important it is to take breaks from the screen, but when you’re working from home it’s easier to lose sight of how long you’ve been sitting in one spot. Luckily there are lots of apps we can use to remember to take regular breaks. We make it a point to get up and stretch or walk around, even if it’s just to the fridge.
3. Social time is vital
Working from home sounds ideal, but we’ve found that isolation can creep in if you’re not careful. Heading to cafes and co-working spaces, or even just getting out at lunch can be enough to keep us feeling human. At Forward Action, we’d much rather someone take 30 minutes out of the day to get themselves to a cafe than spend the whole day feeling distracted at home or lonely. Our set-up also means everyone is free to come into the office as much as they like, with at least one regular office day each week for those who live close enough.
4. It’s important to optimise your workspace – even at home
In the office we’re all about stand-up desks and proper lumbar support, but on those work from home days it’s easy to find yourself hunched over a laptop on the sofa. We’ve found that even if you’re at home, ergonomic set-up and proper lighting is so important for health and comfort. It’s worth investing in a proper set-up for your team, even at home, with things like a monitor, and ergonomic mouse and keyboard.
5. Communication is everything
There are loads of unspoken rules about communication in an office, but behind a screen it somehow gets more complicated. We put some thought into the potential challenges of working from home – like trying to have difficult conversations online instead of face to face – and agreed some guidelines we all like to stick to.
For example, if there’s ever a mistake or problem, we’ve agreed we’ll hop on a call to talk it through, and when it comes to briefing the team on a new project, we always have a video call to encourage questions and ideas. Guidelines like this help keep communication flowing consistently, which helps build trust.
Got some remote working tips to share? We’d love to hear your thoughts.