Many businesses are in the fortunate position of being able to continue whilst working from home. At Gibe we have flexi-time and will often have the odd person working from home in normal times but we had never prepared for everyone to be working from home. Now we’re all staying home and staying safe we’ve had to learn quickly, and I have to say it’s going rather well.

With the right tools and attitude there is no reason that working from home be any less productive than in the office. In fact you might find you’re more productive.

Rule 1 – communicate. The term one of our clients has introduced is “over communicate”. There are plenty of tools we use to help us do so.

Slack

We’ve been using Slack for years. Slack is great for instant messaging chat plus the sharing of files, images, gifs, code etc between colleagues. We have client channels, some of which we share with our clients allowing us to talk and share information easily. Video and phone conferencing exists but it isn’t always the best. Generally, it’s a brilliant tool that is core to how we work.

Sococo

This little gem is a new discovery. Sococo has virtual rooms on a cute little map. This allows the team to login each day and say when they are in Sprint 1 or Sprint 2, Meeting room 1, out to lunch, etc. Anyone in a room can turn on their headphones, mic, video and screenshare at the click of a few buttons – so impromptu video/voice chats are dead easy. In fact we’re finding them easier to arrange than when we’re all physically together in the office and far less disruptive. Try it yourself, there is something great about this application. I think it’s the fact that you can see where people are (not in a big brother way) and converse so easily that helps you feel more connected than just seeing on/offline statuses on a list as happens on Slack.

Oh and you can also invite external people to join you in a meeting as guests. So it’s super easy to start an impromptu meeting with your clients with your team. We love Sococo.

Zoom

Whilst Sococo is great, Zoom is pure video and so slightly better for video and voice conferencing. One feature is the ability to add virtual backgrounds, pictures or video… Ok this isn’t the most important feature by far but when you’re during a pandemic talking to your colleagues on the bridge of the Enterprise, or underwater, on a tropical island, in the middle of a penguin colony etc brings much welcome joy. Zoom is great for video conferences. I’m not just using it with work, I’m using it with friends and also with a group of people from my Gym to do regular group work outs safely from our living rooms.

Others worth mentioning: Skype, Microsoft Teams, Email, picking up the phone, WhatApp, send a text – depending on the situation we use them all.

You’ve probably all had terrible conference calls in the past, and I don’t mean poor audio or video quality. When you’re working from home it’s always good to remember good etiquette. The obvious things include:

  • Let people speak
  • Set an agenda
  • Have a chair person
  • Limit your meeting – no longer than 1.5 hours before having a break
  • Consider muting your mic to avoid background noise

There are new things to watch out for:

  • Dress for work – get out of your pyjamas
  • Don’t take your laptop to the bathroom with you – or at least TURN OFF THE VIDEO AND MIC FIRST! (Or risk ending up on YouTube)

Silliness will happen – pets and children will cause mayhem, enjoy those moments!

I think by cutting out the daily commute a lot of us are getting more sleep. At the time of writing it’s only been two weeks, and as time passes we may find things become more challenging. We are lucky that we have so many smart tools available to let us work from home seamlessly without everyone having to have expensive kit!

If you are working from home, embrace new tech, enjoy yourself and keep safe! And thank you to all those who are still going to work everyday providing essential services!

About the Author

Hugh Parr-Burman, Head of Production

Hugh is our Head of Production with over 15 years of experience in the digital and marketing sector. He's passionate about great project delivery and loves the "big picture" view as well as getting stuck into the fine detail.