This lessons learned series is part of our live SaaS resource list we're building while launching a new product.
See the live SaaS resource list here.
What one thing lesson was most important to our remote working setup?
We're still amateurs at this but having someone manage remote working events and think about the cultural side of it has been great. We all have ideas but many of them are implemented badly or half-heartedly. It needs real dedicated time.
What dumb assumptions did we make about remote working before we went remote?
We assumed that some functions cannot really be remote and would need to be in the office e.g. designers would need to be in the office because it takes a lot of random feedback. We took on a design agency and we've never met them in person once.
We assumed overall that it's less productive. We assumed that if people are not in the office then maybe we won't get as much done because somehow our productivity depends on each other being there and working together. It turns out that the journey to the office can be exhausting and expensive and people can simply go to the gym or workout at home and get back to work when they want to. Of course, they do occasionally go crazy and need to get out.
What would we advise someone to do if they were building a remote team from scratch?
Try these a few of these ideas:
We've set up random Monday, Wednesday and Friday 10 or 15 minute chats where each team member can join if they wish wish. People are motivated to join because at the end of the month they can win a prize as the prize is given randomly to an attendee. We've noticed that people are only slightly motivated by the prize but it helps and mainly motivated by wanting to talk to other people if it's been that kinda day.
Our remote working culture manager (not an actual title but one of the hats she wears) is now doing a small 30 minute event every Thursday which is different each time. Right now it involves selecting a team member to walk through their neighbourhood with their camera on so we can see and hear a little of what their life might be like away from that computer.
If we had a magic wand how would we use it to improve our remote working now?
Probably conjure up a VR system where by we can interact in the same room occasionally, preferably after a meeting we can break off into small groups and discuss actions from the meeting. Oh, and also we need to do that before the meeting too.
Our current system is actually partly remote. While more than half the team are away, the two co-founders come to the office each day. The casual chats can be essential because there are so many subjects to chat about and the new product being built needs constant feedback loops and ideas. The casual chats can't really be implemented that well remotely so maybe a VR system pre and post structured meetings or during virtual coffee breaks will help.
Gather town for fun remote working
This is a very quirky but potentially great pre-VR service where you move around in a Habbo Hotel style virtual world as tiny characters. As you move closer to someone you can hear them, as you move away they become silent. It includes whiteboards, conference rooms, speaking podiums, actual mini-offices you can sit in near each other and more.
Check out Gather Town here.