Author: Anubhav Saxena
Working from home provides many benefits to remote workers that can, and should, be embraced effectively to create a truly productive environment. There’s increased flexibility, financial savings - goodbye transport costs - and a whole lot of intangible efficiencies in terms of time.
While there are definitely challenges inherent in communicating online rather than in person, there’s no reason you can’t overcome these with a few key strategies in place. You may feel a bit awkward on video-conferences (normal!) or feel like you’ve lost the ability to read the room (are you realising how crucial body language can be?) but if you adapt your communication processes appropriately, you’ll maintain effective communication with co-workers and clients and manage to do your job just as well as you’ve ever done it before!
Connect with your colleagues every day
Connecting with your co-workers on a daily basis while working from home is a must. Humans are social entities and in order to maintain that delicate balance between isolation and connectivity whilst in isolation, one should schedule in daily catch-ups with their team. In my own case, we have both a broader team meeting where everyone discusses their day-to-day tasks, and individual project team meetings, where I speak to each specific group in more detail. We speak either by phone or via messaging, and these daily check-ins ensure continuity of our commitment of deliverables to our clients.
I also find it essential to have a single source of truth for information, like a daily email, or an email with a link to a dashboard page relevant to our team, with key information. It helps to minimise that feeling of drowning in multiple emails from multiple sources. I think it’s far preferable to receive a cohesive block of information about our overall strategy all in one place, to bits and pieces filtering in from everywhere.
Leaders can bolster team bonding in a remote working situation
Leaders can facilitate numerous initiatives to keep team spirits high. Firstly, by having a daily morning wellbeing catch up, our leaders can help to create an upbeat tempo and keep up overall team morale. In the same vein, it’s also a good move to continue holding the end of the week meetings with different themes. The leaders should always try to have a positive message associated with their meetings because this builds hope and strengthens team cohesion.
Why not have ‘virtual drinks’ to cap off the week as well! It will cheer everyone up and fulfil at least some of their need for social interaction.
How we are managing to execute a business implementation completely online, due to COVID-19
Currently, our business implementation for one of our key clients is being completely handled via online means of communication. The key challenge here, and in other similar scenarios, is having to run the associated workshops with the multiple end-users, online. Technical glitches often put off the attendees, which in turn negatively impacts the overall delivery of a project. In order to overcome this big hurdle, we have one-on-one sessions with each business user prior to the joint meeting. Even though this is a time-consuming process, it ensures that everyone is on the same page by the time they all enter the virtual workshop and the workshops end up with a fruitful and positive outcome.
CGI is ensuring that our work-from-home teams stay well connected
CGI utilises several online video, messaging and audio tools to ensure that every single member feels completely connected. With the help of MS Teams, MS Skype and Cisco WebEx, CGI gives all of their members the means to contact their peers and leaders. We have daily 15-minute stand-ups that help each and every person stay connected virtually to the team. If someone is unable to join, a quick follow up by our leaders assures that we remain connected as a team, regardless of physical presence.We also have the CGI STEMfromHome initiative for kids, which is brilliant for keeping all of its members connected at a global level.
Working from home is like creating an ecosystem which incorporates one’s day-to-day activities and professional life into one sphere. If you make sure that you’re communicating with your colleagues regularly and effectively, as suggested above, and ensuring that your goals and tasks remain aligned with theirs despite the lack of physical proximity, working remotely can be a highly productive experience.
Respond. Rebound. Reinvent.
CGI is committed to supporting not only its employees, but its clients, and the communities where we live and work. Throughout the pandemic crisis, we have combined our global resources and local expertise in over 400 locations to help businesses respond to unprecedented challenges, rebound at the right pace, and reinvent new ways of working. I’m really happy to be part of a company who is assisting so many through the Covid-19 crisis, and you can learn more about how we’re helping here.