Working from Anywhere in a COVID-19 world

Working from Anywhere in a COVID-19 world

With the COVID-19 now listed as a pandemic and whole countries going into lockdown mode, almost all companies are looking at how they can adjust from an office based workforce to a work-from-home one and still remain productive.

Richard Banks will talk about Willow's recent experiences transitioning from office-based work to a flexible, work-from-anywhere approach. He'll walk through the challenges faced, the approaches used, and the lessons learned. If you find yourself needing to make the same transition (or have recently had to at short notice) then this will be a great session to attend.

And yes, there's a lot more to it than just saying using Teams or Slack as a chat channel.

A recording of this talk is available at


Richard Banks

March 24, 2020


  1. Working from Anywhere In a COVID-19 world

  2. 5 months ago…

  3. We’re already distributed Let’s embrace it! Plus I’d been regularly

    working outside “the office” for over a decade and wanted to avoid the commute at least once a week!! Shh… Don’t tell anyone!
  4. Lean on what others had learned Don’t clone someone

    else’s approach. Work from first principles. Remote Friendly is very different to Remote First Asynchronous communication is a must Synchronous comms is for more strategic needs Be intentional in how you work – there’s no water cooler anymore Hire carefully – look for autonomy, written comms, balance Make trust a core value Don’t ignore the downsides
  5. There’s great information out there Zapier’s remote work guide:

    Buffer’s State of Remote work: Remote Tool’s Corona Kit: work-kit GitLab’s All-Remote Guide: remote/
  6. How we did it Over-Communication of… • The Why: Growth

    & global talent pool • Values: Outcomes, not hours. Don’t go dark. Async comms. • Not so serious: Memes, gifs, reactions, etc • Have perspective: We’re all remote to someone else • How To…: Tactical tips and tricks • Location updates: Where are we; what are we doing today Provide Supporting Tools & Guidance • Content includes WFA agreement, wiki content, FAQs • Tooling includes Teams, Azure DevOps, Confluence, etc Lead & Learn • Lead by example • Be open to feedback and adjust practices & conventions as we go Experience Is The Best Teacher • The office regulars didn’t realise the shackles really were off • An early experience with coronavirus • Social connection challenges & “locked in” feelings are real • Coffee O-Clock & Wind Down
  7. But you don’t have that much time… Focus on stability

    and removing obstacles • With time you’ll establish the rest • Just keep communicating! Ensure people can work effectively from home • Security concerns are real • Desktops users need to be able to remotely connect • Create wiki content for supporting people remotely (how-to guides, contact methods, etc.) • Publish announcements in multiple channels • Broadcast information, rather than waiting to be asked Have mechanisms for people to ask for help • A chat channel will do as a starting point
  8. Be clear on how people should communicate Replicating the office

    over Teams/Zoom/etc. • Meetings restricts information to only those present • No “kitchen catchups” stops organic information spread Avoid Open, asynchronous communication channels • Chat & Wikis are your new best friends • Avoid knowledge silos, especially in times of change • Promote chats to ad-hoc video calls whenever it’s appropriate Prefer “Cameras on” in all calls & meetings • Body language is just as important to communication as tone • We don’t care how messy your hair or house is • Record video calls for others. You can always delete it if it’s low value Encourage
  9. Be considerate of personal situations Some people (strongly) prefer an

    office because… • Too many distractions/problems at home • Poor working environment • Separation of work & home • Avoidance of isolations and loneliness … and many more Be understanding of the challenges, and work through this individually remote/drawbacks/
  10. Culture Shock! Small changes are easy. Large, sudden changes are

    not. Reality is yet to sink in with most people. Reinforce and embody the values of trust, over-communication, and outputs over hours. Be patient with people & their challenges. Keep communication open!
  11. Which Channels for What Communication? Use Chat for informal, point

    in time, conversation & discussion Use Wikis for long lived, formal communication & documentation What’s email? ☺ Key idea: Have a searchable, single source of truth for how you operate. “If it’s not in the wiki, it’s not official”
  12. Let’s make it personal

  13. Making it work for you… Think about your environment •

    Focused work requires a focused space
  14. Home Office Equipment Checklist Table & Chair Monitor Laptop Keyboard

    and Mouse Webcam Headphones & Microphone Lighting
  15. Use what you have Play with different setups/locations to find

    what works for you
  16. Making it work for you… Think about your environment •

    Focused work requires a focused space • Experiment until it works for you Keep routines and create boundaries • Daily routine! Add a “commute” (go outside!!) • “Am I available?” indicators • Take breaks & have a proper lunch Stay connected • Broadcast daily plans and outcomes to your team • Use social chat channels • Video calls for that human connection
  17. It’s OK to…

  18. Less OK (i.e. stay healthy)

  19. The new normal?

  20. Q&A Time!