During the lockdown, many companies faced the daunting question of how to shift from working on-site to working from home while still keeping teams engaged, connected and collaborating productively. When the pandemic hit, hiyield - a UK digital agency - was confronted with this exact dilemma. Despite being a tech company, hiyield found itself unprepared for remote work. Both their working processes and culture suffered.
With a growing team and client base, hiyield didn’t furlough and wanted to offer support to clients as tech has been a huge aid throughout the pandemic. As a young agency, they were able to be agile - quickly adapting to change. However, the team became fragmented, low on energy, and less collaborative and things had to change.
Going from office-based working to being solely remote throughout the lockdowns, hiyield revolutionised the way their team worked. Putting structure in place, they created an exciting team culture and continued with their growth plans sculpting their future. They are now a thriving hybrid team where remote working is welcome!
Luckily it isn’t rocket science. Your company can thrive too when shifting to remote working. The key is preparation. To start you off, drawing on hiyield’s experience, we have distilled the fundamentals of a successful transition into a hybrid, remote-friendly, team.
Putting infrastructure in place
Slack - internal comms
In order to be effective at working remotely, there has to be a solid infrastructure. If you're in the tech world you will be accustomed to the software remote teams need. Communication tools such as Slack are a core element of how best to quickly and efficiently adapt to home working.
Slack is an instant messaging service. It has the ability to create channels for your team to chat in or message colleagues directly. You can communicate in seconds, video call, share your screen, and much more. For instance, slack has some great add-ons. Donut arranges virtual coffees between team members to make sure informal chats are a priority even in a remote setting. Sent It Later allows you to schedule messages enabling teams to work asynchronously and flexibly.
What’s next is creating structure and routine for the team. Hiyield did this through weekly standups. A half-hour high-level rundown of their main tasks. This gave all team members an opportunity to keep themselves accountable to their workload, transparency to what others are doing, and a place to share jolly jokes as if you were in the office (continuing them throughout the day on Slack).
Forming solid micro teams
In order to be effective on project work, micro teams are needed to make sure that projects stay on track and that the right employees are collaborating collectively. This may be obvious, but it’s a core piece of the puzzle to hybrid working.
A micro team, as hiyield calls it, is a team that works on the same project or team. Each micro team will have its very own Slack channel with appropriate employees. Whether this is management, developers, designers, or whoever it is. It’s down to the company itself and the team that is needed to act on a defined objective. These micro teams with their own Slack channel make for quick collaboration, keeping everyone in the loop whether at home, in the office, at home, or in another country.
Keeping team culture as a hybrid agency
Keeping company culture with remote employees may seem like a hard task. But all it takes is a few small steps to create a thriving work culture!
Using emojis and gifs
Starting with the simplest of all. Using emojis and gifs.
When you write a sentence it’s hard to gauge emotion. A simple emoji can tell your teammate how you’re feeling. Whether you are finding things hard 😩 or you’re smashing through your tasks 😅. A gif on the other hand can create you to laugh out loud when used appropriately.
Employee of the week
Employee recognition goes considerably further than some companies understand. Hiyield incorporated a weekly ‘hiyielder of the week’.
Every employee nominates a colleague and writes a very brief sentence about why they chose that person. At the end of the week, at the stand-up, the winner is announced along with a selection of comments. Not only do the winners get credit, but the runners-up have their comments read too. This creates laughter, something to chat about, and of course, encourages a positive work culture for all employees, remote or office-based.
Strava running club
Creating a Strava running club for your team is a superb way to encourage the benefits of exercise. Hiyield uses it as a hub for commenting and encouraging employees. Not to mention there is an aspect of gamifying activities by seeing who is topping the leaderboards, creating a company-wide monthly distance target, or even creating a virtual event for your team to take part in together.
Chit chat hour
A member of the hiyield team put in a place an hour once a week where anyone can join a video chat. It was a place to chat about whatever you wanted. It was a hit with the team as it allowed all employees the opportunity to get to know each other on a personal level. This was simple, but effective.
Encouraging videos to be turned on in meetings is more important than ever in hybrid teams. Talking to a face rather than a speaker icon opens the opportunity to react to real expressions. Whether that’s laughing, a simple nod, or even a show of help.
Many can quickly slip into turning off their video. But simply acknowledging the benefits of why it would help a team has worked wonders for hiyield.
This is much easier to start sooner rather than later when transitioning to become a hybrid or remote-first team. Don’t leave it too late.
A whole new world of possibilities as a hybrid agency
Before the pandemic, remote working was already on the rise. It accelerated remote working to be the now rather than the future.
To deny the change means not accepting the vast amount of opportunities that remote work brings. From hiring top talent, increased employee satisfaction, and enabling high-quality work with no distraction. But yes, working remotely can take a toll if not addressed appropriately. With small fast implementations, the possibilities are so much greater. Hiyield is now fully hybrid taking on remote employees, growing a client base, and most importantly, keeping an awesome work culture.
Be open to change, implement ideas and adapt
No one agency will be the same. Your company is different. But, your team comes first. Be open to change. Implement new ideas. If they don’t work. Change them.
Hiyield recently teamed-up with Omnipresent to interview their Tech Lead, Chris Mason. On tech, remote working, and scaling watch the interview below!
This post is brought to you by hiyield.