A few weeks ago, I was having a virtual book club meeting with a few local women whose careers span a wide spectrum within the technology industry. They all have jobs that easily became remote, but aside from the occasional snow day, the last few weeks have been their first real experience with working from home for a significant stretch. We shared a few good laughs over the common temptations to work in pajamas and the constant lure of the quarantine snacks, then we talked about some real fears: worrying about whether peers would realize they were still working, coordinating complex processes virtually across teams, shuffling the way they communicate with clients and colleagues to new online channels they were still feeling out, and missing the connections that office life provided them.
As the resident, regular work-from-homer, my friends were curious about what some of these aspects look like day-to-day. I told them about recently completing a deploy that was spread among three of us Goodies asynchronously, each in different time zones over the course of two days, as an example of how a deep foundation of trust underlines everything we do at Cloud for Good. After chatting through some specifics of how deeply trust is ingrained in our culture, we landed on a few takeaways that they’re going to try to spread to their own virtual teams.
Err on the Side of Over-Communicating
We depend on a lot of nuances and body language when communicating in person, so pivoting to a completely virtual work environment means those finer points can be lost in the shuffle. Take the time to check in with colleagues casually over chat outside of project work, and be extra clear about roles, responsibilities, and deadlines when talking about project work.
Assume Good Intent
People are switching communication styles and getting accustomed to completely new (for them) communication channels, as well as dealing with an unprecedented lifestyle shift. It’s easy to get upset about what may appear to be a curt email sign-off or a colleague not getting back to your chat message right away. When in doubt, assume everyone is doing the best they can.
Make Your Working Space One You Like
Take the time to invest in your home office setup, put up a few decorations, and make sure your working space is one that is comfortable, as distraction-free as possible, and will give you the space necessary to focus. Shout out to the Cloud for Good Marketing team for having a great blog post I could point to with recommendations!
Create Your Own Brand of Virtual Office Culture
Trust is not just built during project work, it’s grown by being able to feel vulnerable with your coworkers, being invested in each other’s success, and knowing that you can lean on each other in times of volatility. Virtual coffees, Zoom parties, playing games as a team or company, and opening other venues to get to know each other are just a few ways we exemplify this.
The best outcome of this discussion was that several women from my book club decided to “be the change” at their companies since our chat. They have reached out to share that they’ve started setting up and normalizing virtual coffees at their own workplace, have been working on communicating more openly and frequently over chat, and one even coordinated a recurring online game night for their team after seeing what a big happiness-booster their first game night was.
The special thing about being at a company like Cloud for Good is that not only do we get to enjoy the kind of resilient company culture that we’ve cultivated over time, but also that we have the opportunity to create a positive ripple effect on other company cultures by demonstrating that even in times when the unknown seems more prevalent than the known, there are so many creative ways to engage, trust, and support each other.