Many tech companies have sent their employees home to work remotely for the next couple of weeks or months because of the rapid spread of COVID-19. Some are experienced Work-from-Homers and others are doing it for the first time. We all have to figure out how to stay productive and get stuff done without constant facetime with our colleagues, which is why we would like to share some of our suggestions through this post.
Working remotely with your engineering team
Clear communication is key to a successful team, and even more so when working remotely. A few of our team members work remotely, so we know it’s a challenge. From our experience, it’s better to over-communicate, repeating things one time too much, than not communicating at all. Make sure that you set up good communication channels like Slack and a video conferencing room. At Valispace we have always had a “synchronous remote” policy, meaning that we always have our virtual meeting room with cameras running for anyone who works remotely to join.
Remember that small things, like telling people when you start working in the morning and wishing everyone a good evening when you sign off, makes a difference for your colleagues, and it also helps you structure your day and feel less isolated.
Set up a home office
Working from home can often be distracting and the boundaries between work and leisure time can get blurred. If you can, set up a dedicated space in your home and make it your home office, preferably away from any distractions. Having a dedicated desk with a screen and keyboard can help you feel more structured and create boundaries for you and your family. Also, make sure to schedule breaks to get up from your chair during the day, maybe even do some exercise. Here are some great exercises to strengthen your neck and shoulders!
Create a routine
If you struggle with keeping track of your tasks and workload, it might help to set up a routine for the day, week or month. Establish an hour to start and stop working to avoid procrastinating. Knowing that you’ll be working on a (more or less) fixed schedule will help you stay motivated and be more productive. Plan your day at the end of the previous day or as soon as you start working. Prioritize your tasks and set up a realistic time range for how long you think you’ll spend on each task. Also, never underestimate the fulfilment that comes with a ✅!
Ps: schedule your meal times, otherwise, you’ll be doing a lot of trips to the kitchen without even noticing.
Feeling isolated, disconnected and lonely when working from home is one of the biggest challenges to overcome. To avoid this, make sure that you create channels to keep socializing with your colleagues. It can be setting up a dedicated chat channel for random conversation, or you can go all the way and make a virtual pizza party or yoga class with your team. One thing we started doing, for example, is playing Virtual Bingo with the team (by now whoever runs out of toilet paper gets Bingo!).
Organizing your work in Valispace
When working remotely, the tools we use to work and communicate with become much more important. In times like these, we hope that Valispace can help you connect with your team and enable you to work in new and efficient ways. Now is a good time to think about how you store information to capture knowledge and make sure that everyone gets timely updates on the progress of your project.
Successful collaboration with core Valispace features
We all know that too many meetings with lengthy status updates can waste more than a few people’s time. Instead of constant video meetings to get the latest updates from the whole team, let Valispace notify you of any changes made in your project. Make sure to subscribe to the parameters and requirements that you want to get updated about and you will get a notification anytime these are changed.
Did you know that you can also get a daily or weekly email with all your unread notification from Valispace?
How to set it up:
- Subscribe to all properties that are important to you by clicking on the bell on the right.
- Assign owners to components and specifications. The owner will get notifications about all changes to the component or specification.
- Subscribe to get email notifications with all the recent changes to not miss anything.
Check your dashboard to have a clear and quick overview of your project’s developments. You can create public and private dashboards that will show you the current status of your project on your start page. On dashboards, you can add blocks with text, tables, charts or counters that are created from your data. Read more on our documentation on how you can personalize your own dashboard.
How to set it up:
- Create a company dashboard with “Public” access. “Public” means that anyone in your team can see the dashboard
- Fill your dashboard with the most important information for your project, e.g. a mass budget, a table of your unverified requirements, a count of your tasks in “To Do” status etc.
- By creating a sharing link for your dashboard, you can share this link with your whole team (and even with those without access to Valispace) so everyone involved can always see the latest status. Make sure to share this link with your team or use it as a discussion basis in your team meetings.
Discussions and comments
Emails might start piling up when people rely more on written communication. To mitigate this problem, you can start having written discussions on your design data directly in Valispace. It’s valuable to be able to have discussions directly in the context that matters, rather than in other places that are disconnected from the actual models and calculations. It’s also easier to find the conversation back and see what was discussed at a certain point in time.
How to set it up:
- If you have a comment or question about a design parameter or requirement, comment directly in Valispace to keep the discussion where it belongs.
- Subscribe to important discussions to get notifications every time someone makes a comment or updates the status.
- Make design reviews directly in Valispace by setting the status of your comments to “Review” and filter for the status in the table on your Project page
Tasks and timeline
When you’re not able to knock on the office next door and ask your colleague about their progress, it’s crucial to document what everyone is doing and what tasks are ongoing or still need to be done. With the tasks module in Valispace, you can make sure that everything gets done at the right time. In your timeline, you can connect tasks to milestones and chain the dependent tasks together to get an overview of your schedule. Did you know that you can also have discussions and leave comments on tasks?
How to set it up:
- Create tasks for yourself and for your colleagues. If possible, set duration and the due date for the tasks.
- Make sure that you always update the status of your tasks, when you start it, set the status to “Started” and when finished to “Completed”.
- Keep track of the statuses of the tasks in the board view:
Tips and tricks
Before you go, here are a few more tips and tricks:
- If you have time to take a step back and assess your workflow, take the opportunity to work on improving documentation and knowledge transfer. It’s something that we usually forget or postpone, but nevertheless it’s highly important for any organization. Now is a good moment to dedicate some extra time to documentation to be able to work even more efficiently remotely.
- Throughout this process, look closely at which tools you use and what value they bring to your team. Try to avoid redundancies and to keep your team’s communication and data as connected as possible.
- Talk in-depth about your processes and workflows in the team. If you decide to use more collaboration features in Valispace to keep your team up to date, make sure that your team knows about it and that everyone commits to making the effort to put their data into the software.
We would be happy to know more about how your team manages the remote work, feel free to contact us and tell us more or ask us any questions about how Valispace can help your team.