We have seen a lot of great work from home (WFH) tips from various coworkers on LinkedIn, but I wanted to hear from a few members of our leadership team, especially since some of them helped create our work from home plan during the Covid-19 crisis. I virtually met with Nicole Gode, Director of Customer Success, and Chase Edwards, Director of Sales-Enterprise, to hear their thoughts.

Thanks for joining me today! First, with all the adjustments in our world and work environment, how quickly were you able to set up full time WFH and how is the transition going for your teams?

Nicole Gode: "From a systems access standpoint, the team was able to adjust to the new life at home fluidly.  We were fortunate in the fact that our teams here at Siteimprove had the flexibility to work from home previously. The difficulty in the adjustment comes more from the consistency of working from home every day. Many of us miss interacting with each other and the energy that came from being all together. We have heard a lot of people over the years say “There is an energy here” when they come onsite.  Through this transition, we’ve had to pivot to be more intentional with our communication and collaboration. Our goal is to create that same energy while we are working from home."

Chase Edwards: "WFH requires us to be more purposeful and transparent when we need help and comfortable invite others to join strategy sessions, so we continue to win as a team. One of the many special things about our team is that they have a strong desire to collaborate and succeed together. With the adjustment, our team does not have the convenience factor of being in an office to quickly bounce ideas and collaborate. During this transition, we are focused on how to continue our culture of teamwork and learning while working remote."

What advice do you have for other leaders during this time?

Nicole:

  • "Listen to your teams and the needs they have. Everyone adjusts at a different pace. Leveraging effective listening skills will be vital in understanding the different needs along the way."
  • "Be there and be present. Even with the most detailed plans, there are bound to be stress points that arise that were not thought of. Being there and available to chat things through, while maintaining a level of transparency with your teams, will help ease their minds in a time of constant change."
  • "Try and mirror as much of the day-to-day as possible to keep the structure and cultural feel."

Chase: "Working remotely does not mean you’re in your front hall closet typing all day. While you may still be working from a closet, create as many personalized interactions as possible. If time permits, use video chat for questions, updates or idea sharing and encourage your teams to do the same. This is new for everyone and each week we will likely see a new wave of short-term stress sweep over ourselves and our team. Three traits we need to embrace and refine are:

  • Showcase empathy
  • A willingness to listen w/o solving a problem
  • Ability to remain levelheaded amid constant change."

What advice do you have for Siteimprovers to stay productive?

Nicole:

  • "I think it’s important to remember to take brain breaks during the day in the office. That also translates to the office at home, reminding everyone it’s ok to take a quick break, play with the children, or take the dog for a walk. These are not tasks someone should feel guilty for at home. Similar to how one shouldn’t feel guilty if their dog is barking, or you can hear the children playing in the background on a conference call. Knowing that these things happen, and are a part of working from home, makes it more of a non-event than a distraction."
  • "Have a dedicated work space with predefined working hours. The hours don’t have to be the same every day, but one should know going into the day what their schedule will look like. It’s important to stay productive during working hours, but just as important to shut it down and not work during home time."

Chase:

  • "Start every morning with the 3 most important things you want to accomplish that day. Eliminate excess distractions in your work space and set timers for mental and physical breaks."
  • "Post your work schedule on the door/wall of your workspace. If there are times where you will be on a conference call and truly unavailable, emphasize those blocks."
  • "If your day is going to be more chaotic than normal, simply communicate early and set proper expectations. Let others know what times you won’t be available and how to reach you if something is urgent during that time."
  • "Mute yourself on calls if you aren’t speaking. I personally had no idea how threatened my dog feels when he sees the mailman come to the door each day."
  • "Most important, take care of yourself. There are so many free trials right now to help in this area, here are a few of my favorites:

What advice do you have for Siteimprovers to stay connected with colleagues?

Nicole:

  • "When you want to get someone’s opinion just dial them into the call and bounce ideas off real time."
  • "Schedule huddles and team events that are not work related."
  • "Leverage technology. Don’t be hesitant to turn a webcam to a white board or flip chart and conduct a brainstorming session, just as if you were in the office together."
  • "If you are feeling a challenge with something in the day-to-day, create a dialog with the team to discuss it. Most likely someone else on the team is feeling the same pain point. By leveraging everyone’s unique skill sets we can solve it as a team. Our job as leaders is to help our teams be successful. We can’t remove the noise if we don’t know where it exists."

Chase:

  • "Invite others to your meetings."
  • "Create virtual planning sessions before and after each meeting to compare ideas."
  • "Turn your webcam on for each call. You might be surprised to see your outfit matches someone else on the team. This happened to me last week with Tiffany Segreti."

What advice do you have for Siteimprovers to stay connected with their manager?

Nicole:

  • "Don’t wait for 1-to-1s. Open dialog in the moment with questions and comments, preferably in video chat."
  • "Over-communicate. No one wants to feel like they are on an island. Celebrate the wins, discuss the losses. Share what’s hindering your day and causing stress. It may not be as easy for a leader to pick up on these things remotely so it’s key to be vocal. We want to hear from you."

Chase:

  • "Create a daily video chat instead of waiting for your 1-to-1."
  • "Reach out when something exciting happens. We need to celebrate wins now more than ever so please share good news no matter how big or small."
  • "Reach out when you are feeling stressed. If you need to vent, we’re all ears."
  • "Most important, come prepared to meetings. Not only with problems, but with ideas for solving those problems. Your entire team is likely working through a similar situation and you may have the best solution. Share it."

Great advice. I know I can take some points from this. Thanks for sharing with us. Finally, I would be remiss if I didn’t ask about any funny stories that you have experienced or heard during WFH…

Nicole: "Many of our team members and customers have pets. During a video conference with several parties attending, a dog barked in the background. Many other dogs at home with the attendees heard this bark and started barking back. Before you knew it, we had a doggy acapella."

Chase: "There have been many shared stories over the past few days including a brother knocking out his brother's tooth to having pets choose to join team meetings. Last week I woke up a few hours earlier to get through some emails from the day before. I was feeling great and at 7am I heard my 3-year-old yelling from upstairs, "Daddy I peed on the floor and there is poo on my butt". No matter how well-rested you are or how prepared you are to attack the day, life will humble you just like any other day. I was able to get a long laugh when I finally laid to sleep that night and I imagine tomorrow will bring a new surprise."

Nicole Gode, who is currently working as Director of Customer Success, has been with Siteimprove since January 2019. Nicole is based in Minneapolis.

Chase Edwards, who is currently working as Director of Sales-Enterprise, has been with Siteimprove since December 2013. Chase is based in Minneapolis.