At TTPSC, we know that physical presence in the office has no real impact on the efficiency or quality of our work. The remote cooperation model has been a popular solution for a long time. Therefore, it was easier for us to adapt to the new conditions when the coronavirus epidemic started. A few weeks ago, without hesitation, we decided to close the offices and delegate everyone to remote work. As a result, we already have a lot of experience and thoughts in this matter, and we will be happy to share.
Organizational culture in times of uncertainty- flexibility, trust, and agile operating
We work following the principles of the Agile Methodology, and evaluate the results in a task-based system. Therefore, it doesn’t really matter where we work. Of course, there are some departments where employees’ presence on the spot is sometimes necessary (administration, IT, accounting, or HR). Some of us spend a lot of time on business trips (client visits, foreign branches, or industry events) too. The majority, however, can choose whether they prefer to work in the office or at home. Our employees need flexibility and the ability to adjust their work schedules independently. Regardless of the reason (childcare, distance to the office, or passion for travel), we offer this opportunity to everyone. We are now used to this possibility of choice and a sense of freedom. More importantly, though, we have learned to be self- disciplined and responsible for the effects of our work.
In a team that is motivated and works efficiently, micro-management and strict control are not necessary anyway. From this perspective, the transfer of employees from the office to their homes does not make any difference. Of course, we have internal rules and regulations like any company, and they are still in place. They offer a lot of freedom, but under the condition that efficiency is maintained and all team members are staying in touch.
Tools that make our remote work easier
Our go-to set of tools consists of Jira and Confluence – for resource sharing, planning, managing tasks, and working time. We also use MS Teams for ongoing communication and virtual meetings. In the long-lasting digitization process of the company, we have decided to reduce the tools, while maximizing their functionality. We have implemented Linchpin extension for Confluence (intranet function with events and newsfeeds function) and Vacation Manager for Jira. Atlassian systems are the base that we adapt to our needs as we go.
New challenges- change means an opportunity
Although the “closing” of the offices was not a problem, there were several challenges that we had to face. In the situation of the global epidemic, it turned out that nobody was 100% ready for such a change. Office management was the most complicated aspect. We still receive many documents by traditional mail, and processing confidential information online is a sensitive matter. Unfortunately, administrative shifts are still a necessity, so we have introduced strict rules to maximize security. We report planned presence at the office, to avoid the situation of overcrowding the rooms. Everyone is obliged to use disinfectants and leave right after completing their critical tasks.
Further difficulties involved recruitment. Interviewing the candidate, defining mutual expectations, or even verification of technical skills and onboarding is quite easy to digitize. However, it is not as easy to establish a real relationship with a potential employee remotely. There is no universal solution for this. We have to rely on our experience and intuition and hope that the situation will stabilize soon. Then we will be able to welcome everyone who joined the team under these unusual circumstances in person.
We do everything to provide one hundred percent security for our candidates and employees. All our processes have been adapted to the remote version. For candidates from the IT market, remote meetings are a standard, so we engaging them online is not an issue. When we hire, our priority is to provide comfort, so we re-organized our onboarding to be done remotely. We reduced meetings to a legally required minimum – signing documents and collecting equipment. All other elements of the process take place from home. – Anna Wdowiak, HR Manager
The recipe for success – remotely, but normally
In the current situation, maintaining normality in everyday functioning is the biggest challenge. For years we have been building our organizational culture and creating a work environment that makes people want to spend time at the office – to meet, talk, cooperate. Our efforts were focused on building the team instead of organization, by involving employees in many initiatives. Now it became nearly impossible to do since we have lost our community space. Regardless, we still do everything not to lose contact with each other. We strive to create more internal content, encourage people to share thoughts or experiences, and talk to each other.
The key to effective communication is openness, combined with an awareness of possible fears and doubts. Formulating messages in a way that is simple and understandable for everyone, transparency, and respect is a basis. Thanks to this, every employee can be up to date. To reduce stress, people must get a complete set of information. This way, there is no room for gossip and guesses left. Furthermore, it is worth ensuring that the message comes with honesty, trust, and appreciation for commitment. It can strengthen the relationship not only during a crisis but in the long run too.
Many habits that have become a necessity can pay off and have a significant impact on our everyday communication in the future. Even now, we see that the current updates from the CEO and HR department, as well as internal content and experience exchange, are very well received. Those practices proved to be working, so we will probably incorporate them into our regular company schedule.
We perceive today’s experience as a lesson – challenging but valuable and try to see the maximum potential in it.