April 21, 2020
Office life, to WFH (work from home), to EFH (everything from home), and back again?
No doubt over the last few weeks your inbox became full of articles with ‘WFH tips.’ What was previously associated as a perk in certain industries and progressive businesses quickly became a necessity for the workforce of many organizations around the world.
However, remote working and even officeless businesses aren’t really a new thing.
Almost half the American workforce have worked remotely at some point (Gallup). And whilst formalized, contractual WFH arrangements are more of a modern concept, most business owners would acknowledge clocking innumerable hours working from home. Those periods on weekends spent with an open laptop on the kitchen table can be as, if not more, productive than a day in the office.
And what good startup story doesn’t involve a garage set-up, a spare room at mom’s house, or a farting dog called Chester (this is actually our co-founder’s Chris’ story and is well worth the read).
What is unique about the current situation is that we’ve also entered a new social arrangement with ourselves - EFH or Everything From Home. Whilst some would consider their current situation a form of Government-mandated purgatory, others are embracing it as an inevitable evolution. As one friend recently quipped “between FB, UberEats, Netflix, and MyFitnessPal, it appears I’ve been preparing for this moment for nearly a decade.”
So, in looking forward, what becomes the ‘new normal’ post EFH?
It seems unlikely that all businesses will revert back to the former operational status quo. In order to make the current EFH scenario work, most organizations have participated in a significant workplace transformation. Conversations about office real estate, budget line items for those assorted cream biscuits that appear at morning tea, and memo’s about booking appropriately sized meeting rooms in advance, have made way for the testing and adoption of tech stacks that address communication, collaboration and productivity needs. And after effectively implementing an efficient operational setup and deploying a productive workforce remotely, why would a business revert to what is typically a more administratively complicated, more expensive way of operating?
In a recent interview with FastCompany, the CEO of Cloudflare Matthew Prince commented:
“The pandemic has resulted in what is effectively the largest “work from home” experiment ever conducted in human history . . . We’re seeing the effect on the internet, in terms of traffic patterns that are shifting. People are accessing more educational resources online for their kids; finding unconventional ways to connect with coworkers, friends, and family; and employers are being more flexible in how they respond to employee needs through more dynamic, cloud-based technology. I think we’ll see these shifts last well beyond the immediate fallout of the COVID-19 outbreak.”
In the same article, Jared Spataro, corporate vice president of Microsoft 365 added:
“This time will go down as a turning point for the way people work and learn... People are carrying what they learned and experienced from remote work back to their “new normal.” We’re learning so much about sustained remote work during this time.”
To assist those businesses that are continuing to adapt to the EFH economy, we’ve collected 3 examples of how our customers have used technology to approach the key aspects of their day-to-day operations and stay connected with their remote workforces.
How 3 businesses help their remote workforce thrive and stay connected
1. Promoly, and the importance of choosing the right communication technologies for your business
Remote work technology has evolved over the past decade to match the technology of a physical office. These tools not only enable ease of communication but also help teams and organizations to work more effectively regardless of where they’re located. Solutions range from project management tools like Trello to instant messaging platforms like Slack.
When it comes to selecting the right remote work technology for your business, it’s easy to simply go with what every other business is using. However, it’s important to choose the combination of solutions that will work for your particular business operation. For example, an all-in-one solution that requires a long onboarding program may not be suitable for a small business owner keen to be up and running immediately.
For Promoly co-founder and CEO Pete Callaghan, it was all about keeping things simple for their growing business. “We are a remote workforce and we have found Slack to be the best way to keep in touch with one another. It’s easy to set up and use. Plus, it’s inexpensive,” he explains. “We also deliver all our internal notifications to Slack to avoid getting bombarded anywhere else.”
2. Chargify, and the ability to leverage online collaboration tools
Online collaboration tools are a significant part of day-to-day life for many workers. But when you’re dealing with teams across the globe, they become much more critical. When chosen carefully, the right collaboration tool will help your business save time, enhance the seamless flow of information, and increase efficiency. Whether your business opts for a standalone collaboration tool such as Basecamp or a customized stack using Zapier to connect apps together, it’s important to ensure it’s easy for everyone to use.
For subscription billing service provider Chargify, a tech stack that allowed their marketing and sales teams to work closely together was crucial to their success. Even before recent events, remote working was encouraged, having already proven itself (with the right setup) to be just as effective as working in an office (if not moreso).
“Marketing works very closely with the sales team and Autopilot is a tool that has allowed us to really take advantage of this,” Automation and Martech Specialist Mia Chaszeyka explains. “We have taken full advantage of Autopilot integration, such as Forms to capture website leads and Salesforce to assign these leads to sales. Autopilot’s Annotate and Collaborate feature has also helped facilitate seamless communications between sales and marketing. I like how you can add comments to the canvas and explain to others what you’re trying to do in the journey.”
3. Effin Amazing, and ensuring that all commitments are clarified and tracked
For remote teams, it’s inherently difficult to track task progress because there is no easy way to observe engagement and productivity. While this can be addressed by having regular stand-up meetings and check-ins, your business should encourage employees to define intermediate milestones and track their progress. For example, at Autopilot teams hold daily stand-ups no matter where they are scattered across the globe. During these meetings, each person describes the tasks they’ve shipped and what projects they’re currently working on.
For marketing and analytics agency Effin Amazing, it was all about developing a holistic marketing strategy that aligned each team member, regardless of whether they were based in their Orlando office or working remotely, to a core goal and a metric that directly contributed to the business’ success. They also apply this very same principle to their clients, helping them grow by teaching them how to measure the success of their marketing activities and implementing purpose-built tech stacks catered to their business.
A smarter way to work remotely
WFH comes in many forms, and inevitably presents a new set of challenges and distractions, for both businesses and employees. Achieving that efficient operational setup will take time, some trial and error, and organizational buy-in. However, that transformation could be critical.
As you continue to adapt and optimize how your business addresses WFH challenges, consider the tips outlined in this article. To recap, they are:
1. Choose the right communication technologies for your business
2. Leverage online collaboration tools
3. Clarify and track commitments
Because effective WFH arrangements are more than just where employees place their laptop.
If you’re a business that has undergone a transformation and intends to continue operating with WFH arrangements moving forward, we’d love to hear from you. Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org