As the pandemic Covid-19 began to grip the world, at LottieFiles we wanted to be responsible and start putting in place contingency plans to protect our team, so before lockdowns were imposed we sent everyone to work from home.
While remote working has always been a big part of our culture, having every single individual on the team working remote had never happened before. With the spread of this virus inching ever closer to us, we knew that quarantining ourselves was the right thing to do not just for our own safety and for the safety of our loved ones but also to help prevent the spread of the virus around the globe. In circumstances like these, it’s very easy to think “how will I as one person staying home change anything?” but at the same time if we all thought like that no progress would get made. We all have a part to play in this, whether it’s working in healthcare on the front line, delivering necessities to others or simply staying at home and enduring this temporary inconvenience to stop the virus hopping from person to person.
The decision was pretty straightforward for all of us.
A week in and we were all missing the familiar comradery we were so accustomed to getting from being in a physical office together. So we came up with a virtual office space on Zoom where any of us could come and go as we pleased. If anyone was feeling like they wanted some silent company while they worked or maybe even a chat, they could pop into the office and see who was there or message someone to join them. It was like having another room in the house to pop into.
As I write this, I’m starting to think that maybe we are an overly attached team because even before we retreated to the safety of our own homes we have always greeted each other “good morning” in our Telegram group chat. Some of us are definitely more consistent than others but there is a certain comfort that comes from waking up each morning with a bunch of morning greetings from your team mates. However, I sometimes have a sneaky suspicion that it’s actually a way to tell who’s still asleep.
While a lot of places usually do daily stand ups with their teams even when working in a physical office, we had never needed to before. Having a daily touch point on Zoom has proved super helpful in not only providing a brief overview of what everyone was doing but also it helps keep everyone accountable. The benefits of having daily huddles sit within the realm of the obvious, these are undeniably beneficial when an entire team is working remote.
Zoom’s feature that allows you to add virtual backgrounds was the gateway drug to all kinds of mischief. We had team members on virtual safari, in the Maldives, in cafes, in the clubs, in the oval office, and even in our actual office (we have plenty of pictures of the office to choose from).
Snap Camera’s filters have given us so many laughs, we are eternally grateful for them. Our Zoom meetings are made exponentially more entertaining and it’s always a surprise to login not knowing what you might see. Our most favorite of all the filters is most definitely Phil Walton’s potato filter, we’ve had a whole meeting with potatoes.
After a busy week of work, being in lockdown didn’t offer many social prospects come Fridays so we had to recreate our out of work social sessions in a virtual setting. We came up with coffee sessions where we’d grab a coffee, tea, cola, juice, or even a mug of soup (yes we’ve actually had that one) and go to our virtual office and chill out together. Of course this is not obligatory, especially as some of our team have families of their own but even having the opportunity by providing the space has brought some welcome relief to the monotony of daily quarantine life.
It’s safe to say that humor is at the core of Team LottieFiles, and any moment any of us are together (either physically or virtually) there are always bad jokes and plenty of laughter. Mixed in among all our regular work bits and bobs, our Telegram group chat is simultaneously home to dad jokes, memes, and the sharing of hilarious Tweets.
Now over communication can mean totally different things to different people, but at LottieFiles essentially what it means is having no fear to ask questions (no matter how stupid we think they are), repeat ourselves, and state the obvious. We are from different cultures as well as various technical and non-technical backgrounds so we don’t waste any brain cells assuming or worrying about assuming. Some may argue that spelling things out can feel condescending but when there’s a whole bunch of people who interpret things in a variety of ways, the most effective approach is often the most straightforward. I think we as a team are able to achieve this comfortably as we have a lot of respect for each other and thankfully, even if there are egos about, individually we keep them in check. We’re all human at the end of the day.
It can be hard to stay focused on the goals of the company when the world around you is in turmoil and all you can hear is virus this and virus that; many of us have family members in different countries and our thoughts are very much with them. To ensure we continue to keep what we want for the company in sight, we’ve found ourselves consciously talking more about strategy but in more casual forms of conversation. This has been a great way to remind the team about things we want to work towards without being overly forceful and drab about it all.
How are you and your teams coping with working life with everyone working from home?