At Lexoo, we’ve long been a “remote friendly” company, with full-time team members around the globe, but for a lot of businesses we’re entering unchartered territory.
As COVID-19 spreads and workers leave their offices and head for home, keeping your team running smoothly may be challenging.
Many businesses have processes in place to allow flexible working, but when everyone tries to work at home at once, there are likely to be hiccups. For those who haven’t implemented any home working yet, trying to get a system in place quickly can be daunting.
Take it one step at a time. Most people will have a phone and internet access. The other essential is a laptop with adequate security and secure access to in-house documents and case management.
With these, everyone should have the tools that they need to work remotely but your team’s culture also needs some attention to ensure working from home is successful. Here’s some tips to help your legal team successfully adapt to working from home...
Make sure there’s accountability
There are plenty of distractions at home, which can make being productive more challenging than normal. This can be frustrating for employees so it’s important to provide some structure and accountability to your team to help them focus.
Startups have long adopted the daily “stand-up” where each team member answers three quick questions:
- What did you work on yesterday?
- What are you working on today?
- What is blocking you?
Being able to communicate this clearly will help focus the team on their main goals and enforce accountability for what they’ve set out to achieve that day. It’s also an opportunity to be open about what is blocking their work which may otherwise be hard to notice when working remotely.
Leverage simple tools to support your regular workflow
It is crucial that everyone knows what colleagues are working on and what stage they have reached. Find a system that can be easily accessed and that is simple to understand; now is not the time to introduce a complicated procedure.
There are some great tech tools available for teams that enable different parties to join different conversations and keep up to date with the workflow. Check out our review of 5 of the best tech tools around to see what will work well for your team.
You could also put an intake system in place so that colleagues have their requests to the legal department dealt with in order of urgency and so that they can see where in the queue they are. This should reduce the number of calls to check on progress and also manage expectations from the start.
Things like monday.com are a great way to lay out these activities in a really clear format. You can view all tasks along with their priority, status, deadlines, ownership, related documents and comments at a glance! It’s a tool we use at Lexoo and has quickly become one of our favourites.
Make sure communication channels are clear both within your team and between other departments to save time spent ringing around. It’s key that everyone knows who they should contact in HR, IT etc. when they run into issues as they may be more frequent as people get to grips with working outside the office.
Make sure your alternative contact information, such as phone/whatsapp are circulated to external contacts so that everyone feels that you are still easily contactable if need be.
Beyond making sure everyone has the right contact details, keep communication channels open by making time for more team catch-ups to make up for the fact you’re not sitting next to each other and encouraging team members to call each other rather than sending an email where it makes sense.
Ensuring your team’s welfare
Working alone, particularly for people who are not used to it, can be difficult. Make a point of speaking to team members, by phone or video-chat rather than email, every day - and not just about work! Schedule coffee breaks with your colleagues to check-in and catch-up on daily life, preferably using Zoom, Skype, GoogleHangouts etc. so as you can really speak face-to-face.
Managers should make extra effort to speak with their team members one-to-one to try and gauge how they are coping and whether they need any help in maintaining motivation and productivity.
If you feel they are struggling, suggest that they schedule their day to include breaks and some outside time. It is important to treat home working in a similar way to office working, including dressing properly, focusing, setting goals and having conversations with colleagues. A proper workspace will help, along with a schedule that should include getting going early in the day.
Remind them that if remote working is not for them, it won’t be forever.
Lessons for the future
Enforced home working means that problems with the system are likely to be ironed out and those who have been wary of tackling remote technology may be forced to become familiar and comfortable with it.
Take the opportunity to evaluate the system and see what went right and where improvements could be made.
It might even mean a permanent change for some organisations, who want to avoid the commute from time to time or save money by holding meetings online instead of travelling for them.
If you’re working remotely, what problems have you encountered and how have you dealt with them? Let us know in the comments below or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.