Over the years Clock have (very nearly) always had at least one remote worker and it is something that we have always prided ourselves on offering. Why let a silly thing like a potential employee living in Spain stop you from hiring someone who is right for the job?
However, do we find ourselves forgetting about our remote staff? Does the lack of a physical presence in the office leave them feeling left out? Well, our CTO Paul Serby wanted to find out. After all, you never know when your office might fall down or you can't leave your house due to a sudden zombie invasion (that's right, we carry on working even if that happens).
So began the plans to kick everyone out for the day and see how we got on (Clock have over 30 staff so this is a tall order). This involved making sure everyone would be able to have all the same access from home that they would have in the office, from the basics such a decent internet connection up to the slightly more complicated VPN set-up ensuring everyone was able to access the correct servers. We chose a Friday as our office hours are 9-2 which meant if it was a total disaster the pain would be short lived.
So, for one day only, on the 23 November the entire company got up to take their long commutes to their spare rooms, living rooms or kitchens (!) and joined a rather large Skype text chat at 9am.
This was the first hurdle that we had to overcome, whilst we had wanted to run a quick staff meeting using Google Hangouts or Skype's voice call, neither of these products supported the numbers of people we needed to involve. However, the text chat went ahead and with everyone being told to keep it efficient by only saying what they had to, it actually worked pretty well and we got through it. After this we had planned to break into smaller team chats to cover the daily scrums and any other meetings that we had to get through which enabled people to be a lot more chatty without boring the wrong people.
Prior to the day we had also spotted an important Skype configuration change that we asked all staff to make.
Within Skype’s preferences is the option to set how long it takes to automatically update a Users status from on-line to away. We asked that all staff to set it to 3 minutes as there is nothing more annoying that trying to chat to someone that looks like they are on-line but are in fact off making a cup of tea. (please note, it also important that this setting is applied to tablet and mobile phones).
So, after all of these chats had we succeeded in making sure everyone knew what they were supposed to be working on and that no poor soul was left out in the cold, confused and crying? Well I certainly hope so....... although there is a but! If this is something we tried to do more often or even (heaven forbid) full time, would we be this efficient everyday?
For me the short answer is no. Even our full time remote workers come into the office once in a while for meetings, social gatherings and for general catch ups. Having the option to work remotely is fantastic and while I can confirm that our remote working day was a success, trying to do that everyday has the potential to get very difficult and perhaps very lonely.
During the day we asked everyone to take a picture of their remote set-up. The results can be seen below:
*oh and you'll be pleased to know that no zombies attacked us :)
Thanks to Rob Arnold for helping with this blog entry and to Dan Wells for editing the photos.
(The above photo belongs to Vince who took working remotely too far and flew to Ireland for the day)
I saved the best for last....
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