Like many companies around the world at the moment, at Lexoo we’ve had to become a fully remote company overnight. Although this represents a change from how we’ve been working normally, at Lexoo we’re fortunate to have been experimenting with remote work in some form during the past six years of our operating. We’ve gained some valuable experience which is now proving vital to the continuation of our business.
A snap from one of our recent weekly All Hands meetings.
Lexoo’s Remote Work Journey
Ever since I joined Lexoo in 2016, we’ve had ‘work-from-home Wednesdays.’ Although we’ve also always had flexible working outside of this, we were mainly office-based for the rest of the week. Our WFH Wednesdays were a day when anyone could work from home if they wanted, no questions asked. This gave us our first taste of remote working, and using tools like Slack and G-suite allowed us to collaborate while working from home.
However, because we were a mostly co-located team, we didn’t put in place any more advanced remote work processes.
As we’ve grown to a team of now 23 over the past couple years, we’ve brought on new team members in other locations and we’ve had some of our team members who are usually based in our London HQ work remotely elsewhere for a few weeks or months at a time. For instance, while visiting family in the US last summer I spent a couple months working remotely from the East Coast and San Francisco.
Prior to the Covid-19 crisis, we had therefore become a hybrid team — partially co-located at our London HQ for the majority of our team, and partially spread out across the globe, with about a quarter of our team based in Canada, other parts of Europe, and Lagos, Nigeria.
As of two weeks ago we’ve now become a fully remote team.
How We Make It Work
Although we’ve had some processes in place and use a variety of tools that allow us to collaborate, going fully remote has also brought to the surface areas where we could streamline our communications and processes, and we’re adjusting how we work accordingly.
What We Were Already Doing
We were already running our weekly All-Hands meeting in a fully remote way, so even the co-located team were dialling in from their laptops (following the remote rule that ‘if one person is remote, everyone is remote.’)
In our London HQ, we invested in equipment for our meeting rooms and presentation room to provide team members dialling in remotely with good quality video and audio (cameras and microphones).
To stay connected across departments and HQ-based vs distributed team members, we’ve been using donutbot to match us with another team member every other week for a short catch up.
Of course, we were already using a variety of tools like Slack for everyday comms, Notion as our knowledge base, and Zoom for videoconferencing.
What We’re Doing Now
We’re still continuing with what we already had in place prior to going fully remote, but we’re bringing in additional elements to help us stay connected as a remote team.
Working Together More Efficiently
With more information being exchanged now online as opposed to the office, an important question with communication and information is to be continually asking whether a specific tool is the best forum for a specific type of communication. It is very easy to default to Slack for all types of communications, but consider whether an email, video call or internal document might be a better way to share or collaborate.
Our internal teams have increased their communications with processes like daily team stand-ups and sharing daily tasks in Slack as well as an end of day catch-up. This is important to ensuring teams are aligned on a daily basis and that any blockers are being removed.
Staying Connected Socially
We’ve created a new joint Google calendar which allows us to keep track of the various connection points throughout the week. At the moment, these include:
- a daily morning 15-min call that anyone can join to kick off their day,
- a new Slack channel for ‘watercooler’ type chat throughout the day (e.g. this week the team shared a Google Earth photo of the home where they grew up),
- at 5:30pm we’re doing ‘Lexoo Cribs’: every day a member of the team does a 10-min tour of their home
- we’ve increased our donutbot pairings to twice a week, to encourage shorter but more regular social catch-ups across the team
Plans for Future Changes
We’re checking in with the team to see how being fully remote has affected their work over the past couple weeks, and we’ll be investing in ensuring that all our team members are set up to work comfortably and effectively at home.
It’s only been two weeks, so we’re still learning, figuring out what works, and we’ll keep sharing as we do so!
If you’re looking for more: One of our developers, Esther Olatunde, has also written about how we work remotely at Lexoo and additional remote work tips — you can check out her post here.
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