Fooxes Consulting

How Remote Companies Are Affected by COVID-19

Artikel - Hannes Kleist - 16.03.2020

How Remote Companies Are Affected by COVID-19

Companies around the world are sending employees into home office these days as a reaction to the current COVID-19 outbreak, among them tech giants like Microsoft, IBM, Google and Twitter. Even in traditional, presence-oriented working cultures like Germany, large corporations like Bosch, Adidas, Beiersdorf or Deutsche Bank follow their lead and promote home office among their employees wherever possible. While COVID-19 is adding momentum to the public debate around remote work, how are companies affected that already operate remotely?

Companies around the world are sending employees into home office these days as a reaction to the current COVID-19 outbreak, among them tech giants like Microsoft, IBM, Google and Twitter. Even in traditional, presence-oriented working cultures like Germany, large corporations like Bosch, Adidas, Beiersdorf or Deutsche Bank follow their lead and promote home office among their employees wherever possible. While COVID-19 is adding momentum to the public debate around remote work, how are companies affected that already operate remotely?

What Changes for Remote-First Companies: Not So Much

At our digital agency Stanwood, there are around 20+ people working fully distributed from all over Europe — most of us from home. We started to work remotely 6 years ago and since then, we developed our remote culture, communication, processes, tech stack and shared values and beliefs continuously further. Because we already have this remote setup that works for us, only little has changed since COVID-19 has turned the business world upside down.

Most of our team having children, we need to organise childcare as schools and kindergartens are closed in many countries for the next 3 to 5 weeks. To handle likely decreases in velocity, we do active expectation management with our clients and review important deadlines for the upcoming weeks.

Some of us living in more rural parts of Europe already start noticing reduced internet speed as more people are home streaming stuff (hands off our bandwidth, people ;-).

Closed borders and cancelled flights prevent us from having our regular face to face meetings with the team. Cancelled events slow down lead generation in our sales pipeline.

But not everything is bad, there are a few upsides as well we notice: Many of our clients are working from home now and are better to get a hold on for us because they aren’t stuck in meetings. Video calls are shorter and often more productive than face to face meetings as we focus on the most important stuff. And we all regroup ourselves and focus on the really important tasks at hand.

Finally, we also look forward to a higher acceptance of remote agencies by our clients.

After COVID-19: Remote Work for Everyone?

COVID-19 has given the public debate around remote work a whole new momentum. Remote work enthusiasts already paint pictures of employees staying home and not wanting to come back into the pits once COVID-19 is over. Don’t get us wrong: We are among the true believers in remote work and its benefits for human mankind ;-). But we also have our share of experience in working remotely for over 6 years now.

If you’d asked us a few years ago what the future of work would look like, we would have said without a doubt: People are gonna work a 100% remote. Who needs offices and human interactions anyways (we are programmers and nerds at heart, so human interaction for us is optional ;-).

Now, a couple of years later and all the richer in experience, we say: Remote work: absolutely. But not exclusively. The benefits of remote work are huge if companies get their communication, processes, tech stack and most and for all their remote working culture right. But besides all that, humans are still humans and need contact to real people from time to time to feel motivated, inspired and part of the team.

Although we work 90% remotely and communicate via video calls, slack chats, github, jira and trello, we still meet regularly with the whole company and in our teams to discuss important company topics and strengthen our relationships.

I regularly invite team members over to my house to cook and chat with them — we call it “Grill the Boss”. That way, we have a common goal (cook dinner that doesn’t suck ;-), we work along with each other and we talk about personal stuff or things that are bugging us right now in a project.

It’s those missing face to face meetings that will challenge our remote company the most in the long run. Even in established remote companies like Stanwood, missing real human interaction will put a strain on our culture. Now it will show if our shared values and beliefs are strong enough to keep the team spirit and motivation high in times of isolation and quarantine.

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