By Hugo Tilmouth, ChargedUp
At Chargedup, we were clear that we needed to do everything possible to prevent our team and their families from getting ill once the coronavirus started. It is also the case that as a small start-up we have very little redundancy and often have one person per key task – losing any one of our team would be disruptive. In the weeks since we moved from actual office to virtual office we’ve learnt a lot. So here are my tips to help you and your team continue to work remotely and productively:
Don’t reinvent the wheel: There’s a wealth of online resources. I’d recommend https://www.notion.so and particularly Notion’s remote working guide as a source of excellent information for start-ups. Start-ups simply do not have the resources to produce extensive guidelines and policy documents so Notion has been a life saver. I also recommend the video Zapier’s Guide to Working Remotely. We also used https://seedlegals.com Free Coronavirus Workplace Policy.
Coach the team on how to work remotely. It’s not too late to do this so if you haven’t already, do it now – even if your team has been working remotely for a few weeks already. Team leaders should provide guidance on creating a quiet space, setting a schedule, limiting interruptions from social media and other members of the household, etc. We coached the team on good working practice, including maintaining regular working hours, scheduling breaks, etc. We don’t want them burning out by working 24/7.
One of the key lessons we learned is that it is often difficult for people to find room at home to work. I recently took the plunge and purchased a small second hand desk from eBay. Working from my coffee table proved impossible!
Establish the working day routine: To facilitate a structured approach, I suggest starting each day with a 15 minute team stand-up at 08:45. I would also encourage you to introduce a progress tracking tool such as https://clubhouse.io It allows you to create templates so that people can report what they did yesterday and what they intend to do today. We use the https://slack.com automation tool to prompt everyone at 8:30 each morning to complete this form. This is then visible to all team members. This is so important to keep our team focussed and to keep projects moving in the right direction.
Make the most of budget tools to help with remote working: Like most companies we already use collaboration software for audio conferencing, file sharing and communication. We chose Slack, from Slack Technologies Inc., although there are many offerings out there. Slack is a great option for small companies. When we want full video conferencing, we turn to Google Hangout. This enables us to share screens, presentations, etc. Check out the best apps to use with Slack here.
ChargedUp uses https://Loom.com from Loom Inc, to record processes, new code, etc., to then share with the team. For example, the operations team have recorded all of their policies and processes via Loom.
Manage online meetings: I strongly recommend implementing a robust meeting policy to ensure that meetings are effective and time limited, have a clear agenda and that outcomes, actions and owners are agreed. I found a great article on ‘How to run a more effective meeting’ from the New York Times Business section. https://www.nytimes.com/guides/business/how-to-run-an-effective-meeting
Keep everyone happy and motivated: Of huge importance to ChargedUp is the wellbeing and mental health of our team. We want them to stay well so we can hit the ground running when we get through these difficult times. Feeling isolated is a key issue raised by habitual remote workers and so we have made a particular effort to create opportunities for colleagues to socialise together online.
The team meets online for lunch at 13:00 each day, encouraging down time and an opportunity to chat and share ideas.
Reward and praise your colleagues: Although cash may be tight, go out of your way to praise and celebrate successes. For example, I arranged for a case of Jubel beer (https://jubelbeer.com/sales/) to be sent to each staff member. We meet online at 17:00 and celebrate our successes and have a laugh. Not only does this boost morale but also supports a local brewery.
Time to prepare: We anticipate a huge bounce in our business when the crisis is over, and we are using this time to plan for the next stage in ChargedUp’s expansion. While things are quieter than normal we’re developing our capabilities, honing our processes and improving our application. Our focus is on the future.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Hugo Tilmouth is CEO of ChargedUp, Europe’s largest phone charging network. Building on the British philosophy to promote sustainable innovations, ChargedUp gives customers power on-demand through its network of portable power banks. It also provides venues with a unique marketing tool that drives footfall and increases dwell time. 50 people work for the young company, which has expanded its charging network to over 3000 stations across the UK, Netherlands and Germany since 2017. The ChargedUp app now has around 210,000 users.