7 mins read time
A decade ago “Home Office” was still something for the hipsters, the geeks, even bad tongues would say, for the “socially awkward” developers and freelancers. Most tasks were done by a single person interacting with a computer. Although the core meaning has remained the same, remote work in remote locations today is increasingly team-oriented, involving intensive teamwork in a virtual environment and often direct interaction with customers.
Do you have an acute challenge in your team and your processes right now?
Please feel free to talk to us personally about your situation!
Virtual working is a concept known to many digital agencies – and an already established success system here at our company! But in times of crisis, as we are now experiencing – the global coronavirus pandemic that is turning into panic – the initial challenges of home office & Co. are transformed into real advantages: A visible business advantage for companies.
Even if you’re not one of the first users of Remote Work, if you know where to look, every crisis is an opportunity, we promise 😉
Table of contents
1. Home game Home Office: When social distance is an advantage
Working from home is the daily work paradigm during the coronavirus crisis. For many, it is a difficult idea to digest: managers who are reluctant to embrace the concept think that setting up a home office only means that employees get “out of control” and neglect their duties in their pyjamas instead of working hard, as if they were keeping an eye on them.
But that’s exactly what happens in times of crisis: Established processes and systems get out of control, and teams, authorities and organizations have to adapt in order to survive. This is how we have to look at Remote Work: As a novel concept of work that facilitates “survival of the fittest” and the growth of the most adaptable. Relying on government financial injections is one way to overcome the crisis, but for many it will be far from enough.
The term “crisis” itself has a root in the Greek word κρίσις, “krisis”, which originally means a turning point in an illness or a time when a quick solution to a problem or conflict is imperative. The Chinese crisis symbol also represents two different drawings that mean “danger” or “opportunity”. The global significance of the concept of crisis is undeniable.
And although at a global level we are forced to practice social distancing and fight the virus by following “the five”, local managers have the chance to breathe a sigh of relief and save companies by embracing the concept of New Work. Remote work can now become part of your daily practice, connecting them through virtual teamwork and establishing imaginative business practices that encourage you to look further beyond your own nose.
How to keep motivation and productivity high – or even increase it – despite social distancing and unfamiliar remote work! – our team reveals in the article “Julia’s tips for keeping motivation high in the home office”.
2. New Work: Are you stuck in the past?
Whether we like it or not, work is changing and we are heading for a new work future where old concepts no longer work. Read also the unsparing practical article by our Founder Manuel Pistner. The coronavirus is a great example of such a stirring slap in the face for companies stuck in static, hierarchical structures.
Just a while ago, Tim Ferris’ 4-hour week was incomprehensible: it was considered impossible to work ten times less than the 40-hour average and achieve the same result.
In comparison, the 8-hour workday was probably unimaginable for factory owners a century and a half ago, when manual labourers still slaved 10 to 12 hours a day, paying much of their physical strength.
Was Henry Ford the first to introduce the 8-hour day concept, the first to break through the idea of “working smarter, not harder”? Perhaps, but he solved the current challenge, which was to make workers a little less burdened by shorter working hours.
Today, a large proportion of freelance employees choose their working hours every day, regardless of location or area of expertise.
2. New Work: Are you stuck in the past?
Thanks to globalisation, outsourcing and digitalisation, remote or virtual work is not just about working shorter hours. Virtual work in globally distributed teams has a number of advantages in a changing work climate.
Intelligent time management is just one of them.
Time, people, systems and processes in a virtual team are quickly adaptable concepts and represent resources that must be handled flexibly in order to be able to interact successfully. Always with an end goal in mind: the successful project completion of the ever more demanding customer, who has become accustomed globally to increased quality and accessibility of digital products and services.
By the way, these tips also apply to all non-HO activities ☺
3. Time management in the home office: Time recording done right
For an expectant mother, an important lesson from the pregnancy seminar is that the focus is shifting from personal time slots to a comprehensive 24/7 service for the newborn baby. Her entire schedule suffers from a complete shift in priorities. She is virtually in crisis mode.
Likewise, successful work in the home office in a remote team requires careful scheduling,
with one small difference: the baby will be the customer this time.
We dare to say that many of the home office manager’s habits require him or her to adopt the mindset of a new mother. Timeboxing is a method borrowed from agile project management. Put simply, it means that you create to-do lists in calendar entries so that you know how urgent a task is within the time available to you.
To help concerned and helpless people who now have to work from home to adapt and stay on schedule, time should be “wrapped up” in the right way. Successful Timeboxing usually involves working towards a common goal in strictly limited Scrum Sprints until a first usable product is ready. Scrum is not only for software development teams – it can be applied to any project that can be performed remotely by a globally distributed team with all members.
4. Talented people: The most valuable resource of the agency of the future
Almost every digital agency, whether large or small, local or globally dispersed, today strives to respond to each and every specific customer requirement. They require a wide range of skills. The quality of delivery depends on the people: The agency is their people.
“But will people be responsible for doing their best work when no one is there to oversee every step they take?” you may ask. It is a question that is a remnant of the old concept of work, which definitely does not promote success in a crisis.
Instead of adding to the coronavirus panic by distrusting the people you work with, an agency of the future must first adopt a flexible way of thinking and then carry out digital projects accordingly.
Traditional “employment programmes”, local recruitment & outsourcing
restrict the agencies by dividing them into complex nodes of long-term budgets
and contracts & demand money sacrifices that they cannot afford.
This virus is also an economic pandemic. If your company is also affected by the corona virus, you must therefore be prepared to find the best talent with a combination of hard and soft skills in the short term.
On-demand teams, such as the ones we use in our company, which are able to build and establish fast working structures will help you to cope with the economic impact.
We call this on-demand flexibility ‘Virtual Team-as-a-Service’ (VTaaS), a model that has saved our company during the crisis (not of the pandemic type, but just as devastating for our survival as a company, more on this in our TEDx Talk).
5. Hybrid teams that enable “customer first” delivery
In panic mode you can easily lose track of what is happening. You can only manage the lack of resources such as time constraints and shortage of skilled workers within local comfort – if you are not innovative. One opportunity lies in expanding your own team with talent from a larger global pool of experts.
Setting up virtual teams meets many of these requirements, but is often too much of a risk for managers, at least felt to consider working with them in full remote mode.
At Bright Solutions, Flash Hub teams are used as a “hybrid solution” where we assemble and manage teams of local talent and remote freelance experts in a structured way. You can also use these advantages with Flash Hub Teams in your company (=> How to successfully scale your company with hybrid teams or pure freelance teams).
This way we can serve customers who are now worried about meeting project deadlines, because people now have to stay at home. And yes, some of them will certainly NOT sit in a suit in front of the laptop 😉
6. Why virtual teams survive in times of crisis
A major advantage of our virtual teams is their scalability: they adapt quickly to changing circumstances. We call the remote work teams used by Bright Solutions “Flash Teams”.
Flash Teams are agile, scalable when needed and equipped with expert knowledge. The new hybrid team works according to the principles of testable skills, radical transparency and personal responsibility.
Virtual Remote Teams are teams
that are led by a principle, a mission, not by exclusive people.
We are creating a new quality of life, where people choose what is best for them and have a greater say in work-life balance, which is something we urgently need now that the corona virus has invaded everyday life. You can do that too.
People need and get more freedom in organizing their working hours: By using freelance or remotely working agile teams, you can also develop a backup solution for any unforeseen event. This is less risky than the cumbersome on-site personnel work, because the digital platforms are already set up. All you have to do is apply the right processes for your case and learn how to manage and measure your success.
You can let the panic overwhelm you – or use it to seize new opportunities. It’s up to you; and we’re here to help you make this transition as smooth as possible and guide your business through the bottlenecks.
What we care about: Clear communication remains one of the key elements – use all the tools like Slack, Zoom, WhatsApp, Teams etc. to stay connected to your team and discuss expectations openly and transparently. Especially now you underestimate the effect of dailies and short meetings. Of course they should always have a goal-oriented agenda. But we know from experience that you can also spend the coffee break virtually with each other in a team 😉
We hope that we have already helped you with this post – please feel free to talk to us personally about further questions!