Three Ways 100% Remote Work is Making Our Operations Better

Written By: Eric Olson
March 18, 2020
5 min read

One week ago, we went from working in bustling offices of hundreds to a 100% remote team in just hours. It was a proactive move. It was the right move. As we carried monitors down stairwells and said our goodbyes, we were surrounded by others doing the same.

We’re grateful that we have the capability to work remotely, but we’re also conscious that’s it’s not easy for anyone. Fast growth software businesses are built on agile, highly collaborative operational models. On a normal day, we’re brainstorming in the hallway, drawing ideas on whiteboards, helping each other solve problems constantly.

Now, we’re scattered across home offices and doing happy hours on Zoom.

Just a few days in, though, I’ve come to the realization that our adaptation to remote work is leading to material improvements in our operations that will make us a better business for our employees and our customers.

Here are a few things we’re doing that will have long-lasting positive impacts on our business performance.

Improving the consistency, transparency and quality of communication

We’ve long held up transparency as a core principle for everything we do, with our CEO often reminding us that every employee should know what we know within hours if it’s possible and responsible. We took that approach to COVID-19, sharing frequent updates and holding live Q&A sessions with our teams daily in the early going.

As we shifted from the initial communications on COVID-19 to our new normal, we realized there was a real opportunity to do even better.

We’ve created a hub on Confluence to share a wide range of information: from work-from-home best practices, to relevant updates on the impact of COVID-19 in our communities. And, we’ve standardized our weekly communications cadence for updates from the CEO on what we’re hearing from customers, how we’re performing and what we’re doing to improve remote work.

We’ve also embraced a multi-channel approach to communication to drive conversations on the key topics, including the heavy use of open slack channels, frequent two-way Zoom meetings to share information and address questions in real-time, and the creation of standard confluence spaces so people know exactly how to get the information they’re looking for when they need it.

As we ramp up our level of communication, we’re seeing a shift from a typical, one-way communication pattern to an ongoing conversation. I’ve been inspired to see communication shift quickly and naturally into collaboration, which is helping us rapidly adapt to remote work, improve our processes and better serve our customers.

Turning all our unique process into a connected ecosystem of digital workflows

As a modern go-to-market team, we have a complex set of processes that we use to run our business. For example, managing the assets for a campaign program requires inputs, approvals, feedback and measurement across at least five unique groups.

The challenge is, these are unique processes that are very specific to how we run our business. So, the most common approach is to handle them in emails, spreadsheets, SharePoint, Google Sheets – or even in Word and PowerPoint documents.

(Who here has spent a whole meeting arguing over the right PowerPoint template for documenting a program? Ack!)

When groups are co-located, it might be tolerable to get up and ask where to find an asset to use on a customer call. When remote, it all breaks down.

Luckily, we’ve been building a connected ecosystem of workflows on Quickbase and in integrated applications like HighSpot, to help our teams work together better. Now, that effort is on hyper drive. Our team is working actively to make sure every unique process is not only digitized, but integrated across all our source systems and all our teams.

As we work together to digitize everything, we keep three goals in mind…

  1. Give every person access to the actionable data and assets they need, when they need them, across any process or any system
  2. Enable people to work together quickly and safely, eliminating the complexity of dozens of disconnected documents and applications, and shifting toward a single, well-governed set of connected workflows.
  3. Improve our processes every day, making us better prepared for our new reality and for the future demands of our business

Making digital collaboration a way of life

I’ll admit, I don’t take naturally to work-from-home life. I love a good hallway conversation. I enjoy walking around our offices and asking employees what’s on their mind. I look forward to our highly interactive weekly team meetings.

With improved, two-way communication and more standardized processes, we’re figuring out how to make digital collaboration our life blood.

Most notably, I’m seeing three things take shape in real time:

Everything (and everyone) lives in Confluence: From program plans to our functional operational cadence. That allows our teams to work together in real time to define things – and gives us a record of everything we did, including templates we can quickly flip to new initiatives.

We gather on Slack, and stay away from email: Since we left the office, I’ve seen email traffic drop off and Slack activity skyrocket. With people working at home, juggling kids and walking dogs, asynchronous communication is key, and the team has taken naturally to using Slack channels to drive the conversations that would normally happen naturally.

Frequent video chats keep us aligned(and keep us sane): Throughout my career I’ve seen people assume every conversation needs a meeting. That clogs up calendars and hurts our productivity. It can be worse when remote, but we’ve started to get comfortable with quick, five-minute video chats to connect, align and go. It’s also nice to see people’s faces and have a laugh or two.

Written By: Eric Olson

Never miss a post — subscribe to the Quickbase Blog.

Sign up to receive the latest posts on everything from Operational Excellence to Digital Transformation.