News

Digiterre – like the rest of the world – has been embarking on a giant remote working experiment

Virtual working is actually improving productivity and we expect the current events to drive lasting innovation in the workplace which will benefit everyone in the future. We’ve had a full online company update, with all participants on video, and we’re turning our full interview process, including the technical assessment stages, completely virtual.

By Ian Murrin and Rajesh Jethwa

31/03/2020

Virtual working is actually improving productivity and we expect the current events to drive lasting innovation in the workplace which will benefit everyone in the future. We’ve had a full online company update, with all participants on video, and we’re turning our full interview process, including the technical assessment stages, completely virtual.

This is working well for both planned meetings as well as ad-hoc discussions for brainstorming, problem solving and collaborative team working across a shared outcome.

Productivity has improved by effectively time-boxing peoples’ attention, in concert with the appropriate audience, in order to move a particular task forward. Our anecdotal experience chimes with the research that shows remote working in most cases is more productive than working in open-plan offices.

However, to get things done in the office you can muddle through with paper, spreadsheets and chats but in a virtual world you need a single view of work activities, so this is where an investment in collaborative technologies comes into its own. Just as you need a balanced diet, and shouldn’t eat just one kind of food, it’s crucial to use the full range of collaborative technologies available to us – whether that’s Slack, MS Teams, WhatsApp, JIRA – as they all have their pros and cons. Use these tools to improve productivity rather than just be virtually present in the room together – that’s no different to presenteeism in the office.

It’s not only about using the tools to see and hear each other, it’s about using them to collaborate better. For example, employees from different teams and functions, and even various combinations of customers and vendors, can all work together to get things done efficiently.

Other things we’ve learned?

  • For large meetings, be careful to ensure everyone participates. A roll call can help ensure each person plays a role and gets airtime.
  • Be mindful of interruptions, but expect them and roll with them. Cats walking past screens is no big deal!
  • Resist the temptation to just cram your calendar full of back-to-back calls and meetings. It can be quite easy to live and die by your calendar, which is a double-edged sword. It’s great for productive use of a professional working day, however, it’s easy to forget the importance of scheduling in breaks for reflection after frequent context-switching.
  • And don’t think in terms of everyone being isolated. Remember we’re more connected than ever, and we’re even inviting each other, virtually, into our homes – cats and all.

Ian Murrin is CEO and Rajesh Jethwa Delivery Director of Digiterre