According to a global survey conducted by Gartner in March 2020,
“88% of organizations have encouraged their employees to work from home due to the Coronavirus crises.” This was irrespective of whether employees showed symptoms or not.
And so starting 16th March, Fyle went remote as well.
COVID-19 has reshaped our personal as well as our professional life. We are all sailing through uncharted territory and unprecedented times. Over the past few weeks, we’ve been talking with colleagues from different departments and teams to understand the impact of working remotely.
Here, we will talk about the new challenges and how our work culture is helping us to keep the engine running. Let’s get started
Facing new challenges
At Fyle, we always had a flexible work policy, and so, we knew the drill of working remotely and away from each other. We would choose remote working when we were sick, had to be home for personal work, or was just in a mood to work from home. We also had the right tools to bridge communication and collaboration when any of us work remotely.
Therefore, we experienced no shock or hiccups while transitioning for a full-time WFH. But most of us weren’t used to working from home for x number of weeks or even had a WFH schedule, to begin with. That’s where some of us had to face new challenges.
Week one of working from home was looking like a catastrophe for some of us already. We were hardly taking breaks and didn’t know when to start or end the day. We were putting in more working hours but didn’t seem to be getting much done.
Switching to a full-time WFH-mode was a learning curve for all of us, and we had identified what wasn’t working for us. Going forward, we had to learn how to:
- Create a hard line between home and work-life
- Deal with a different type of interruptions
- Get rid of loneliness and isolation
- Solve technology hiccups
- Plan and schedule breaks
- Get creative with our breaks
The role of a work culture
“Why is culture so important to a business? Here is a simple way to frame it. The stronger the culture, the less corporate process a company needs. When the culture is strong, you can trust everyone to do the right thing.” - Brian Chesky, Co-founder, and CEO, Airbnb
At Fyle, there is no concept of clocking hours. Everyone can work with their own choice of working hours.
We weigh more on “how we contribute” over the number of working hours. With the given flexibility in our working hours, we make sure we communicate our availability on Slack. For example, we send a simple text on Slack #wfh channel if we are going to be away from our desk for lunch or if we are logging off for the day.
Despite having our personal work schedule, we make sure work is done in due time, and we’re not a roadblock to another. All work-related discussions happen on public communication channels as well.
For instance, upcoming internal sessions, questions, or doubts are posted in public channels. By doing so, whoever is interested can join in the sessions. Posting questions and doubts in public channels can also help other colleagues. They may find information that can be useful for them as well.
We also ensure we have our weekly sync-ups with teammates and colleagues. Having weekly meetings with each other helps us to be in sync with the work that’s going on. Even if a teammate is unable to join physically, he/she joins virtually or sends out notes about his/her week’s update.
To sum it up, even before the onset of the mandatory WFH policy, we practice:
- Being responsible while working independently
- Giving importance to communication
- Fostering transparency
- Taking ownership of our work
The preset traditions helped us to keep the ball rolling as a team. Here are some examples:
- Pre-COVID, the Engineering team had their daily review meeting at 10:30 am in a large room with a huge monitor. The team still continues with their review meeting at the same time. The difference now is that the review meetings are now being held on video calls, and ongoing projects and new features are reviewed by sharing screens.
- The Marketing team still has weekly sync-ups on Friday evening to discuss work done over the week. In the office, we go around the table with each teammate giving out their progress. But since sync-up is now being done in Zoom, after someone is done with their update, it is followed by “Can I go next?” by another.
- Our customers are scattered globally, and the Customer Success team has always maintained clear and transparent communication. The Customer Success team continues to have a good relationship with the customers and ensures the shift had little to no impact.
How Fyle work culture is molding our WFHs
The shift from working in an office to working at home full-time has brought new challenges as individuals. Some of us dressed for work to get into the work-mode, some reworked on our work schedule while some replaced water-cooler conversations with online games with colleagues.
The culture and traditions we had developed also helped us to cope with the change. As part of our culture, we value the traits in the image and strive towards it. For example, with the working hour flexibility given to us, we learned how to be respectful with each others' time. With the tradition of weekly sync-ups, we learned to be accountable for our own work. And being responsible for our own work helped us to stay self-motivated, curious, and trustworthy.
While it may be a difficult time for all of us, this is how we’re handling working from home:
- By communicating more than ever before
After switching to working remotely, we had to ramp up our communication with each other even more. Since now, we are all working remotely, corresponding with one another came in all forms- Slack messages, Zoom calls, emails, ClickUp updates, Calendar invites, etc.
We Calendar-stalk each other to set time for meetings or even to have short catch-ups with each other. After every sync-up or work discussion, we also made sure to put out notes in public channels to ensure we don’t miss out on anything, and everyone is on the same page. For tasks and project updates, commenting on ClickUp tasks is also a part of communication to ensure progress.
- By finding an alternative to office breaks
Working out of an office means a constant gush of people. This translates into random water cooler conversations, walks after lunch, and multiple breaks away from the desk.
With the lockdown looming on us, we had to get creative to stay sane, motivated, and productive. What did we do for that?
We took our chai breaks, game breaks, and chat breaks online too!
- By sharing silly content that makes you smile
There’s no doubt WFH during pre-COVID and COVID times are two different things. The latter can get stressful and monotonous. Most of our calls start with either “Can you hear me?” or “How are you doing?”. But both are genuine questions, and at a stressful time such as this, it can be remedial.
Working from home for days can sometimes get demotivating. As a group, folks at Fyle have genuinely always been very generous. (This applies to everything but food.) Be it sharing of book collections, movies, music, courses, or even just quirky YouTube videos. Folks at Fyle love sharing.
And our means? Slack groups.
We have a Slack group for almost everything under the sun, where like-minded people share their thoughts, experiences, or even resources. Another common sight to see is loads of hacks and tips (sometimes garbed as memes) that continuously float around.
Here are some noteworthy mentions
Across lands and seas, we are in this together
“We have each other. We are our own best hope.” - Simon Sinek
Remote working has its own set of unique challenges, even if it seems to be fun and easy, at first glance. It comes down to each employee’s responsiveness and self-discipline to function smoothly. When your culture focuses on practicing authenticity and honesty, you may be impressed with how much employees choose to contribute.
At Fyle, chai UNITES us all. So many times, we simply catch up on virtual chai breaks. Most meetings also end up concluding with chai breaks. At times like these where everyone is working remotely, it becomes essential to communicate and understand what others are going through.
In these breaks, we discuss our pets, our partners, laundry that's pending, and almost anything under the sun. We have found that these breaks help us let out some steam. They also become healthy coping grounds for us to realize we are all in this together, no matter how far apart.
Despite our challenges, our remote work culture has prepared us to keep moving as a team. With our folks up and running, it is business as usual for us at Fyle. But we understand this can be a tough time for small businesses. And that is why Fyle is making the first 10 active users free in our standard plan. Visit our Business Continuity Plan to learn more.