To save lives from COVID-19, governments around the globe had to issue lockdown orders. The toll on human relationships has been debilitating, with people forbidden from visiting family in hospitals, and people forced to isolate themselves. As we open up, complex social distancing measures will continue to force us apart, and new waves of the coronavirus will likely keep us at home again.
This sociocultural and technological shifts have pushed us into the Digital Age. This “digital everything” trend will define our post-virus world. With more than a quarter of global professionals working remotely, work from home has become the norm during the pandemic, and now companies like Google, Netflix, and Twitter are stating that employees will not be heading back to offices until 2021.
Zapier’s Roadmap for Work From Home
Analysts predict that the post-COVID-19 future will not only isolate us from our peers but also challenge in unprecedented ways. We must stay ahead of challenges using digital innovations and new technologies and techniques which do not decimate our progress. It will take action at the individual-, company-, and government- level to tackle everyday challenges and build a seamless virtual word.
As HR leaders figure out how we conduct business, it’s clear that there’s a whole new level of challenges and unpredictability we must take into account. This is especially true when it comes to determining which skills and talent will be needed to recover and grow in a post-COVID-19 world.
Many companies – Zapier included – have become successful as 100% remote teams. The interesting thing to note here is that Zapier has always run as a remote team. It started as a three founders team to over 300 workers working remotely in 28 countries. The HR Digest learned a few things from Zapier’s Remote Work playbook about building and managing remote teams. Their story proves that it’s not impossible to grow even when you’re 100% remote. Whether you’re a three-person team or a large one, if you want to grow in a post-COVID-19 world, consider this as your guide.
INGREDIENTS TO A SUCCESSFUL REMOTE WORK SETUP
Teams, tools, and process is what you need into order to build something truly amazing. Without the three it is highly unlikely to pick a random set of people, at any random moment, dispersed around the globe, put them together, and expect them to build an innovative product.
The most important ingredient to remote working success is the team. Not everyone can gel well in a virtual environment. It’s important to assemble a team that’s capable of executing in a remote work environment.
Hire doers who’ll not only get stuff done but not need you to micromanage every second of the day. You’ll need to provide guidance from time to time, but in the absence of a leader, a doer can still get amazing things happen. At the core of Zapier’s organizational values is ‘default to action’ teammates who embody that value get work done.
If you continually find yourself fretting over what someone is doing, then you are spending your time focusing on something other than the product or client.
It’s quite easier to share information in a physical office setting. The real challenge arises when you’re in a remote setting and everything has to be shared via written communication. One of the most important aspects of a remote team is communication. Clear communication is critical to a remote team’s success.
Hire people who are completely fine without a social workplace. People on remote teams need to be ok with having less than usual social interaction. The best remote teams thrive when they’re able to create a social support system even in a virtual setting. Zapier has several people in Austin and Portland who meet in person for co-working and other events in order to maintain the social support system.
Employees at Zapier rely on collaborative tools like Slack, Zoom, Messenger, RingCentral, etc. to make work processes easier. The introduction of virtual workplaces such as Async and Slack as a measure to maintain qualitative productivity allows the recruitment and retention of top talents irrespective of their geographic locations, balance work-life among employees, and promote cost-efficient means to expand or increase office workforce. A typical virtual workplace in Zapier has a full range of functionalities to support real-time brainstorming and synchronous applications for sharing of collaboratively editable documents.
The third and the most powerful ingredient in a remote team is process. Most people consider process to be the most rigid aspect of running a remote team. Contrary to popular belief, a well-defined process can prove to be the foundation of a structure that helps you get more work done. The process can evolve as you receive timely feedback and measure the progress of the teams.
Every Thursday morning or afternoon, remote workers at Zapier get together for talks, demos, and/or interviews. With more than 300 employees across seven major departments, it’s difficult to meet everyone on a weekly basis. Hangouts are a good chance to not just meet people you don’t normally see but also learn something new.
Each week at Zapier, someone does a lightning talk or demo on interesting subjects. People at Zapier have shared interesting projects, fun facts about themselves, and more.
It can be difficult to know all of your teammates. One way to work around this problem at Zapier to get paired up with one other teammate or two at random each week. Zapier uses Donut in Slack for this to chat about work, life, and whatever seems interesting. It’s another way of everyone getting to mingle with their teammates.
It’s difficult to keep track of who is doing what when everyone is working remotely. With Friday Updates, Zapier has been able to learn what employees are working on for the coming week. This also makes it easy to keep everyone in loop and everyone is held accountable for their efforts.
It’s not possible to automate everyone aspect of the job. At Zapier, employees don’t need people to perform repetitive, boring and mundane tasks. One can focus on high-impact work rather than fretting over less impactful things.
We hope Zapier’s remote working success gave insights into how one team manages a remote team. Not every organization is cut out for remote working. So before you begin considering a move towards virtual work, you’ll need to do an analysis of what might be the best fit for your company.