It’s hard to believe that it’s officially been a year since our team here at rideOS started working from home due to coronavirus! While we hope to be back in the office soon, we’ve learned a lot about how to successfully work from home this past year, and plan to continue these best practices even after we return to our regional offices.
Our first blog post on working from home was published just a few weeks into the pandemic and while most of those principles hold up we thought it would make sense to reflect on what we’ve done since then to make distributed work more sustainable over the past year.
Our team enjoying a virtual magic show by the talented Gary Ferrar!
Weekly All-Hands Meetings
When we transitioned to mandatory work from home, we noticed a need to increase both communication and efficiency. We therefore decided to change the frequency of our all-hands meetings to weekly, and condense a few other meetings into our all-hands so we didn’t have an excessive amount of company-wide meetings. Cutting back on meetings has allowed folks to have more focus time, which we know can be hard to come by when working from home.
How do weekly all-hands meetings work for us? Each week, we focus in-depth on one department of the company and the other departments just do a quick update. This allows for regular visibility for a good mix of quick and in-depth content across the entire company. This format also spreads out the workload for prepping all-hands across teams.
We also recognize that Zoom fatigue is very real so we welcome folks to turn off cameras if they aren’t presenting during this meeting. This has been helpful to encourage folks to listen to the all-hands while walking, stretching, enjoying a coffee, etc. so they can enjoy some time off camera while still keeping up to date with everything happening at the company
Virtual Working Sessions
Working remotely can be isolating and we’ve learned that working sessions can make certain projects feel more collaborative, social, and empowers more effective communication. We’ve started a few ongoing virtual working sessions where folks can get together for common tasks such as outreach on LinkedIn or collaboration on a design project.
We try to keep these sessions as informal as possible so folks can choose to have cameras on or off, and mute as needed. Even if folks end up all off video and sound at times, it’s still proven very useful to answer quick questions and feel like you’re not working alone!
Folks are working differently in many ways while at home and often end up working more hours due to lack of commute time. When your home and work worlds collide, it can be taxing to spend so much time in one location for a number of reasons, so we’ve encouraged the team to add flexibility to their days/schedules as needed.
From making 1:1s walking meetings over the phone to doing a grocery run during the day when the stores are less crowded, small tweaks can make a huge impact in overall well-being. We trust our team to get their work done and deadlines met, and we don’t believe in micromanaging schedules in order to command virtual ‘facetime’. The pandemic and working from home has been especially difficult for some of the parents on our team so we’ve welcomed folks to adjust their standard schedule as needed in order to balance family needs with that of work. In order to maintain transparency, we heavily encourage the use of Slack status updates and setting working times in calendars so it’s clear when you can reach someone.
In addition to flexibility during the workday, we realized most folks on the team were simply not taking enough vacation. In order to ensure that folks would still prioritize their own well-being and not get burned out during an especially challenging time in the world, we experimented with our first company-wide week off over Thanksgiving, and we adjusted our vacation calendar to ensure that every month would have at least one three day weekend. We’ve found these tweaks in our schedules were really beneficial to sort of ‘force’ time off even if folks are still just at home. Most of the team was surprised how they could still feel refreshed even with just an additional day off over the weekend.
A scene from one our colleague's hiking trips during some well deserved time off!
Without seeing each other in person, it can be more difficult to ensure we’re giving recognition where due. In order to encourage more frequent kudos in the team, we started making it part of a few regularly scheduled meetings such as our staff meeting and all-hands. We also started a kudos channel on Slack so folks can give ad-hoc kudos. On a few occasions where certain folks or an entire team really went above and beyond on a project, we’ve awarded them ‘appreciation time off’ where they could take a few extra days to refuel after a tough sprint.
Variety of Virtual Events
From virtual scavenger hunts to magic shows, we’ve really gotten creative with Zoom events this year! We’re also continuing our ‘Random Rides’ where folks can opt-in to be paired with 1-3 other folks on the team to enjoy an activity of their choice and expense $25 per person. Folks have used these random rides to bond in all sorts of ways from playing Amoung Us to making bagels!
One of our favorite virtual events to date was a virtual trivia event organized by two teammates. The entire company was divided into teams and competed against each other categories such as pop culture, rideOS history and even an estimathon!
These are just a few ways we’ve been making work from home go smoothly this past year. We can’t wait to see each other in person again, and take all the learnings we’ve had from a crazy year into the future!