We Went Remote Right Before COVID. Here's What We Learned.
This post was updated on Aug 7, 2023 with some new insights and changes to the technologies we recommend.
In December 2019, well before the global acknowledgment of the challenges of remote work due to the COVID-19 pandemic, our team at Suits & Sandals embraced a fully remote setup. The initial switch was a contingency plan — our office lease expired, and the hunt for a suitable space was still on. With an existing flexible work-from-home policy in place, we collectively decided on a remote work structure until a new office came into the picture. Fast forward three months, and the escalating novel coronavirus crisis has reshaped the corporate landscape. Companies, many of which thrived on in-office interactions, are now adapting to remote work challenges.
The shift to work from home during COVID-19 has inundated the digital space with tips and how-to guides on managing remote teams. However, our narrative is a tad different. Here's an inside look into the benefits of remote working we've discovered, sprinkled with some challenges and how we overcame them.
Technology Isn't Just a Tool; It's a Teammate
In our ongoing journey of refining workflows and strategies, we've leaned heavily on technological advancements. From automating tedious tasks to harnessing APIs for integrating tools, our tech-savvy approaches have notably amplified our efficiency. Our experience, enriched with apps like Asana, has equipped us to assist our clients in similar transitions. Amid the pandemic, our foundational tech practices proved invaluable. Even seemingly minor tweaks, like keyboard shortcuts, collectively contribute to productivity — a mantra we believe every team, remote or not, should adopt.
The Art of Digital Collaboration
Remote collaboration needs creative tech solutions. In our pre-pandemic setup, brainstorming sessions typically had us gathered around screens or whiteboards. Now, our reliance on platforms like Figma and Google Docs has grown. They aid in retaining the essence of hands-on, visual discussions, despite the physical distance. For instance, our fondness for dual monitors in the office evolved into a newfound appreciation for apps like Spectacle at home, ensuring optimal screen space management. In this reshaped world, organizational prowess isn't just valuable; it's crucial.
Beyond Tech: The Human Element
While we harness tools for better efficiency, we acknowledge that technology alone can't build bridges. Video conferencing, a staple in our current communication toolkit, has its limitations. For design discussions or detailed project planning, standard video quality often falls short. To counteract, we've adapted to more explicit, descriptive communication. The learning curve is steep, but with patience and dedication, we've managed to ensure clarity.
Being mindful and empathetic has never been more critical. Remote work has spotlighted work habits, making transparent communication paramount. We've realized that promoting a culture of understanding, appreciation, and levity is essential, perhaps even more so in a remote work setting.
Embracing remote work, especially during COVID-19, isn't just about changing the workplace. It's about leveraging tools, tactics, and strategies with amplified significance. It's about debunking myths surrounding remote work productivity and recognizing that tips for succeeding remotely are universally applicable for general productivity. High-quality communication, robust technology, and a structured workflow can amplify any team's efficiency.
As we navigate this uncertain terrain, our hearts go out to businesses grappling with the economic repercussions of the pandemic. We hope our story provides some solace and guidance.