Over the past two months, many companies have switched to 100% remote work environments. We gave some insight into how we stay connected with our fellow Aviturians in a virtual setting with some helpful tips from our full-time remote employees.
While we do consider ourselves pros at working remotely, we still humbly continue to learn about working in a global, remote-first environment. Specifically, what it’s like to be a 100% remote meeting attendee and how we can improve our remote Aviturian’s experiences.
1: Being Heard is Important
Prior to switching to a remote-first environment, our meetings took place in conference rooms at our HQ. Depending on the team, there would be anywhere from 2-3 remotes dialing in. Some have quickly learned the challenges remotes face when meeting virtually despite the latest and greatest tech enhancements available. One of our Project Managers, Ashleigh Reeker, talked about the importance of acknowledging the remote attendees in any given meeting.
“There’s a general read on body language that happens, and if it looks like someone was going to speak up, we want to make sure to ask if they had anything to add.”
In addition to making a conscious effort to give remote attendees the chance to chime in, ensuring that all voices in the room are not causing distraction is also a necessary component, Reeker said.
“Being remote forces you to stop and really hear people. It is very difficult to talk over one another or have sidebar conversations. We've been quick to call people out for having those sidebar conversations and apologizing to the person speaking.”
2: All Visual Aids Are Not Equal
Aviturians are big fans of “whiteboarding” things. In fact, there are often Slack messages circulating asking where the whiteboards were wheeled off to. But what’s not always taken into consideration during typical meeting settings is how well remotes can view the whiteboard.
To combat the visual limitations that physical whiteboards present, some teams have had to reconsider the tools they’re used to using. In retros, for example, utilizing a virtual whiteboard and sticky note allows for every person online to have an equal view of topics being discussed.
3: Looking After Each Other
While working from home is not completely new for some of our Aviturians, it has been an eye-opening experience for others. It is becoming increasingly important to check in and engage with one another in meaningful ways. As Reeker said,
“Sure, we all love the idea of being remote, but when you do it, you realize (after a while) how lonely it really can be.”
It can be hard to stay connected at times like this, and everyone’s situation is different. But we have worked to engage our teams in many ways.
Our bi-weekly, “all hands” meetings were moved to every week to allow everyone to meet as a company, voice their concerns, and get updates on the other projects more frequently. We have different plugins managed through Slack, such as Donut, that encourages Aviturians who may not usually work with each other to meet and talk one on one. There is also a new Discord server set up for our teams to chat and exchange “water cooler talk” to blow off some steam and chat with one another about anything on their minds.
Even though we have made changes to our daily process, there is always room for improvement. The more time we spend working in a remote environment at this scale the more we learn. All of this is still very new for a lot of companies, but the most important focus for us is making sure all our Aviturians are doing ok. By focusing on the well-being of our employees we can continue to serve our clients at the highest level of work.