The Plexal Playbook: everything you never thought you needed to know about remote working (but suddenly do)

Welcome to your COVID-19 home working guide in a box

Remote working: essentials for managers

  1. Agree on what collaboration tools you’re using – you don’t want half the team on Slack and the other half communicating on Teams. GitLab, the world’s largest remote company, also suggests you streamline the tools you’re using.
  2. Review your cybersecurity policy, refresh your employee training and consider your response planning.
  3. Prioritise play. Schedule in regular socials to keep your culture going strong… remote working shouldn’t just be about maximising productivity. We like this guide to hosting a successful coffee morning – minus the awkward silences.
  4. Set the etiquette rules, from turning on video during meetings (this shows you’re engaged) to managing expectations when it comes to response times.
  5. Over-communicate. This could be in the form of daily meetings or a weekly update for the whole team on the business strategy.
  6. Include everyone. If some members of your team are on furlough leave, put measures in place to involve them (without breaking the terms of the scheme). You could make sure they’re invited to online team socials or assign them a buddy who they can talk to (who’s not a manager) to make sure they’re coping.
  7. Set expectations and priorities so everyone knows what they should be prioritising and achieving on a daily, weekly and monthly basis… and leave room for manoeuvre as things change.
  8. But set boundaries too. People shouldn’t feel pressured to be on call all of the time. Set an example by not sending colleagues instant messages outside of office hours. If you must send that 11pm email, schedule it so it arrives in people’s inboxes the next morning.
  9. Does everyone have their home office sorted? Make sure the team has what they need to work from home, from devices, software and internet connectivity to an ergonomic desk setup.

Remote working: essentials for everyone

 

  1. Create a routine and find your new normal. This could be having a lunchtime walk, getting regular calls in the diary and making sure you take a lunch hour.
  2. Don’t work from bed. Not only is it ergonomically unwise, but you’ll probably find it harder to distinguish between working and relaxing time.
  3. Brush up on your video, instant messaging (see below) and email etiquette.
  4. Set rules for your new colleagues. You never thought your partner, flatmates or family would be your colleagues, but here we are. We know some people have even set up a meeting room rota system so that everyone can take calls in private.
  5. Stick to working hours. The temptation is there to dip into work early or late, but you could end up suffering from burnout.Collaboration tools

Collaboration Tools

  1.  Zoom is the popular video conferencing platform of the moment, but Jamm bills itself as a more spontaneous video tool.
  2. Slack: move conversations away from email towards this messaging platform.
  3. Collaborate within a set time period using Cuckoo. Create a virtual room, set the timer and invite participants.Keep everyone informed and create wikis on Notion.
  4. Use MarkUp to gather feedback on a website page… without the email chains.Solutions like MURAL and miro can help you brainstorm ideas and share ideas collaboratively.
  5. Use Fellow to manage your team and set agendas for 1:1 meetings.
  6. The Otter app takes the pain out of transcribing meetings.
  7. Icebreaker can help the team get to know each other better. There are over 300 questions designed to build trust and connectedness.

Mental and physical health

  1. Enjoy a free trial and 50% off Fiit. We’re excited to reveal that Plexal’s teamed up with our member Fiit to bring all current Plexal members a 50% discount on virtual workout classes (they’re also offering a 14-day free trial). Click on this link to activate your code if you’re a current member. Fiit works hard to make its classes inclusive and varied, so you can choose from over 500 options, from HIIT sessions to pilates and yoga. If you want to join our members’ leaderboard, email us on thesquad@plexal.com
  2. POPSUGAR Fitness has a huge range of free workout videos.Use an online wellbeing programme like BioBase.Explore online therapy services like Spill.Use the Calmer app if stress is getting to you.
  3. Tune into a livestream meditation with Calm from Monday-Friday.Tune into ReefCam or watch a live feed from a dog sanctuary.

Stay connected: our pick of the best online events and programmes

Plexal events online

Join us for a virtual coffee morning, women in tech lunches and Zoom sessions. Check out the upcoming listings on our website.

Quarantine Question Time with Plexal member My Life My Say Bring your quarantine questions for the panel. RSVP here. 

Virtual finance and insurance consultations

Sign up for exclusive member-only sessions with our Professional Services partners Informed Funding and Hiscox.

Transport Tech London virtual meetup

Talk with leading sustainability thinkers and names in transport technology like what3words. RSVP on Eventbrite.

Virtual support programmes for tech startups and scaleups LORCA is accepting applications for an accelerator that can be delivered remotely. Elsewhere the FastForward Pre-Accelerator is for early-stage startups, the Accelerator Academy is for startups raising seed funding and The ScaleUp Accelerator is for scaleups raising Series A funding.

After hours: make the most of your lunch hour and evenings

  1.  From video editing to leadership, brush up on a skill on Skillshare.
  2. Head out for a walk and listen to this Tech Talks podcast featuring Sunny Dhami, RingCentral’s senior director of product marketing, who shares his working from home experiences.
  3. Register for BrewDog’s virtual bar. We’re not quite sure what to expect, but we like the sound of it!
  4. For the culture vultures, go on a virtual museum trip, enjoy a night at the opera, watch a boxset with a friend using Netflix Party or stream a just-released film on Curzon Home Cinema.
  5. Get your friends together on Houseparty to play a game.

Cybersecurity essentials

Plexal’s delivering the LORCA programme, which supports the brightest cybersecurity innovators with cutting-edge tools. If you have a cyber challenge, we can point you in the direction of a member who could help. Just email info@lorca.co.uk

You can also check out Deloitte’s remote working and cybersecurity guide.
These are some general pointers to consider when your team suddenly starts working remotely:

  1. Malicious attackers are already starting to take advantage of COVID-19 – make sure your employees are educated about phishing attacks, password best practice and malware.
  2. Have a reporting process in place in case they spot anything suspicious.Consider how resilient you’d be in the wake of an attack.
  3. Maintain an up-to-date backup of important data that’s segregated away from your core corporate network.
  4. Understand what devices your team members are using. Make sure they have the right security software and that they’re not using public computers or Wi-Fi.
  5. Enable multi-factor authentication.
  6. Don’t do personal tasks on work devices, and vice versa.

Lockdown lessons

These links will keep the kids learning and entertained… at least for a few
minutes.

  1. Audible has released hundreds of free audiobooks.Tune into Play Hooray live on Instagram every morning at 10am.
  2. Enrol them in the Cyber School, where they can learn about computer science and coding.
  3. Burn off their energy with a Joe Wicks exercise class and look out for virtual classes on Facebook from our member BADU Sports.
  4. Use a home learning kit from Scholastic.
  5. Support a Plexal member by trying out the Fonetti app, which helps children learn to read in an interactive way.

Video conferencing and instant messaging etiquette

All of a sudden, the office as we know it has changed. Freelancers are already pros at working from home, but for many of us this is a brave new world that we’re suddenly having to adjust to.

And one of the biggest shifts has been in the way we communicate. Video conferencing and instant messaging is the new norm, but how do we avoid the pitfalls and gaffes waiting to happen?

We’ve crowdsourced some do’s and don’ts to help you come out of the other side with your reputation – and working relationships – intact.

Turn on your video

Or people will assume the worst – that you’re not engaged, haven’t bothered to get dressed or are doing something else other than attentively listening. The imagination can be a powerful thing…

Seeing people’s reactions and facial expressions is crucial for maintaining relationships and making the conversation flow naturally too. Take the plunge (and remember to look into the camera).

Consider your backdrop

The background in your video call says a lot about you.

Tastefully curated gallery walls or world map = cultured, well-travelled with a healthy work-life balance.

Healthy-looking plants = this person is reliable and has their life together.

The headboard of your bed = questionable sense of boundaries.

If you’d rather not let your colleagues peer into your personal life that’s fair enough, but a word of caution about one particular video function that’s being used in some circles. Blurring or changing your background might be tempting if you’re feeling shy about your laundry pile, but people will just wonder what you’re hiding.

Friday drinks can live on

Video calls aren’t just for serious meetings: why not get everyone on a group video call to have a drink together at the same time? Keeping morale high right now is important, and it can be great fun – albeit chaotic.

If that doesn’t appeal, having an instant messaging channel dedicated to something fun can work just as well and give meme addicts an outlet for expression.

Try to keep your home life separate… but don’t sweat it when that’s not possible

Let your family or housemates know when you’re jumping on a video call so you don’t get any gatecrashers.

But at the same time, everyone’s in the same boat and juggling home and work life just as you are. Maybe it’s time we relaxed a bit more and started thinking differently about what “being professional” means, and allowed ourselves to be a bit more human at work? We are all Robert Kelly.

Pay attention to instant messaging etiquette
Avoid sending people instant messages outside of office hours and keep messages short. Anything that doesn’t require an immediate response or is just an FYI is an email.

And never start an instant message with “hey” and wait for a response. Get your point across from the start so they know what they’re getting into.

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