We wrapped up our #30DaysRemote experiment last week Friday. We officially started our remote working experience on Wednesday, 18th March 2020, beating most businesses to it before the official lockdown forced them into it.
It’s been an interesting experience which we have shared with you along the way. We spoke about the transition here. We also highlighted how to work productively, achieve effective work, what a remote business means and had our CEO, HR & Admin also share their lessons with you. Fortunately for us, we got some good press during this sharing period.
We got the opportunity to join the discussion on remote work on Joy Fm’s Super Morning Show, joined a Twitter Chat with Mobile Web Ghana, had some of our articles featured on Business & Financial Times and Citi News Room. All in all, it’s been an amazing journey!
Today, we’re rounding up our #30DaysRemote experience by sharing the team’s experiences working remotely for the past thirty days.
Let’s start with the pluses the team experienced experimenting with remote work.
Saved a lot of money
For most of the team, food and transportation are the biggest expenses. Remote work completely stripped that expense because there was no need commuting to the office, neither did they have to buy lunch since they were home with family due to the movement restrictions accompanying the lockdown.
Learned a lot of fresh things
A core part of our culture is learning. This remote experience challenged us to learn fresh things ranging from efficiency at work, to discipline, productivity, and new skills like graphic design, motion graphic design, cross-platform app development with Flutter and a host of others. The essential thing that we all relearned was effective communication and time management.
Got time to eat healthily
Working remotely gave us the gift of being more present with family and for lone rangers who live alone, time to do other things that otherwise would have waited till the weekend. Working remotely and from home means one thing — you eat home-cooked meals! No more half-cooked and tasteless roadside food. And you could include more fruits and vegetables too.
Got in some great exercises
Exercising was one of the big things that kept almost everyone on the team sane and going. Be it a brief walk, a brief run, few pushups, you name it. We had to exercise to stay alert because we were no longer in the office with our height-adjustable desks & comfortable chairs. The moment you slack on exercising, you feel the consequences in all the back pain and sluggishness that takes over.
Commute time is zero, and it’s freeing!
In this city of Accra where the mantra is ‘Stay By Plan’, working remotely worked lots of wonders for us. Not having to step out into the blistering sun, battle for Trotro (public transport), and stay in traffic for hours un-end has been nothing short of a blessing. We spent more time figuring out our work, how to improve it and how to grow as a professional. As opposed to strategising on how to make it early to the station, get a Trotro, dodge traffic & get to work on time.
Now to the challenges. Every impressive feat always comes challenges.enges
Overworking can kill
Our remote work experience came with a psychological battle. For most of us, it was easy to think you had to always be behind your laptop to prove that you were being productive. And this we did with constant commitment. To the extent of working late into the night and having to wake up early in order not to miss standups. It was a genuine struggle. Not everyone has figured out the balance yet, but we are still pressing forward. Until we get it right.
It’s no joke staying focused on work when you’re in the comfort of home
Remote work allows you to work from anywhere, but in the Covid-19 circumstances, it means you’re working from home. Need I remind you that home for most of us is comfort, peace and, relaxation? Now try getting work done in that peaceful, comfortable, “my bed is calling me now” environment. It’s not easy at all. On top of that is the need to interact with family and attend to their needs. At least the office offered you a fixed time working and you could go home to relax. But now, you try to be productive and relax, all in the place you know as a relaxation zone. It’s not easy at all.
Distractions are real folks, they are real!
It only takes a minor distraction to upset your focus. Working from home presented so many distractions. From family interruptions, social media, going down the YouTube wormhole, or just enjoying a song too much, distractions were real. All they needed was a bit of our attention, and they robbed us of productivity for a few hours. In the office, it was much easier to minimize distractions because a colleague could see your screen or your supervisor could just walk by. And no one wants to be caught watching YouTube from 8 to 5. The fresh challenge is maintaining your focus, not away from the distractions, but in the presence of the distractions.
Discipline without supervision is tough
Our work culture is flexible. We believe every team member can pull their weight and deliver results. You think you’re disciplined until you’re left all alone and you have so many deadlines looming, but all you’ve been doing is playing games and watching YouTube because you wanted to de-stress.
Communication is important
Communication is such an important thing. We communicate every day with people, but it takes on a new nature when you have to communicate about work electronically. Sure, we were doing this whilst in the office, but now there are no quick face-to-face meetings in the conference room to prevent issues from dragging. You have to juggle constant notifications from others, quick Zoom meetings here and there, managing Slack messages and keeping up with projects on Basecamp. All these aren’t very easy for one person. But we don’t have an option, do we?
Ghana Dumsor & Internet Fluctuations
Not even the President of Ghana’s kind gesture of bearing the cost of our electricity bills for 3 months during this COVID — 19 period had the power to stop dumsor. You’ll think the internet connection will get better because obviously that’s how all of us are surviving — businesses, churches, etc. But no, we still had slow connections and stuff. The challenge was that unlike the office where we had a standby generator, most of the team didn’t have that luxury of backup electricity at home. It was mentally frustrating especially when the team has high stake meetings and upcoming deadlines.
Learning is one of the pillars of our culture, so as you would expect we learned a lot from this #30DaysRemote experiment. Some of the lessons are:
Plan & Prioritise your work
Failing to plan means planning to fail. To successfully work remotely, you need to have a path/plan that directs your activities and efforts. What has helped most of us is having a list of goals and tasks, then arranging them according to the priority for the business and for us as individuals. We either used the conventional paper & pen or tools like Todoist and Trello. Remote work is fun, but only if you plan.
It is said that discipline is the bridge between goals and accomplishments. You need an ability to control yourself amidst distractions and in the absence of supervision. With remote work, your deliverables speak for you. If you don’t get yourself together, you will surely produce nothing when your deadline comes around. Without discipline, you miss deadlines and become inconsistent which are signs of bad work ethic. To the best of our knowledge, no one likes an employee with bad work ethic. So you do the math.
Celebrate your small wins
Working remotely especially in a time of crisis puts a lot of pressure on you. You want to deliver results on your job, but at the same time need to attend to and keep your family and friendships going. Celebrating the little victories are key to keep you going. Finished your work 2 hours before the deadline, buy yourself a drink or some fruits. It doesn’t have to be a big celebration, you just have to notice that you did well and give yourself a pat on the back. That’s how you keep moving.
Don’t forget your mental health
Trying to stay productive whilst working from home and around family or friends who may be scared or anxious can no doubt affect your psychological and mental health. Make sure you stay positive, rest when you feel stressed, ward off as much negative energy as you can and control your consumption of news and other things that can increase your anxiety or worry. Put exercising also at the forefront of your personal care. As the saying goes, a sound mind dwells in a healthy body. Treat others with grace and check up on as many as you can to keep the positivity going round.
What the boss has to add
Our CEO, Sena Amevor, also shared his thoughts with us on the whole experience. This is what he had to say:
On what it meant for QodeHub transitioning to remote work
‘’Working remotely was the best decision. Every one of us contributed to its success with some amount of work. Employees needed a couple of days to help them transition and I’m glad this period wasn’t confusing for our people. I have been satisfied with our results, as employees have been very cooperative during this period and most importantly, they have been productive. This is the same period in which other organizations have become handicapped and still trying to figure out the way forward. That could’ve been us.”
Words of advice to other CEOs and leaders of organisations or businesses
“The end game should be the focus. The focus should be on the production line in terms of achieving the objective, efficient collaboration and communication. Leverage what is readily available to you to make you productive. I urge people and other organizations to be proactive and adventurous, to always focus on what they want to achieve and find the best means to get there. You have to be willing to take risks. If you don’t face the challenge now, you are only postponing your suffering.”
What’s next for QodeHub
“Our next step is to review the 30-days experiment and make adjustments to our remote work guidelines. For the team, the period has enlightened each individual to know which aspect of their lives they can start investing in to stay healthy, comfortable, and productive whilst working from home. Even though the lockdown has been lifted, we’re still working remotely and might just stay remote since it opens us up to get talents from all across Africa & the world.”
Our appreciation to you
Thank you for sticking around and following our #30DaysRemote campaign on our socials, interacting with the content, sharing your opinions & experiences and ultimately, sharing them with people in your circles. We believe the content shared is perpetually useful, so if you missed out on any of our articles during the period, you can check them out and share with us how they impacted you!
#30DaysRemote: Lessons learned, overworking & underworking whilst remote & the way forward — Our CEO, HR & Admin Share Their Experiences (Part 2)
We don’t know how long this pandemic will last, and we aren’t sure society will successfully structure itself to adapt to the current situation but we can at least try to do things differently. Because, doing things differently often leads to something exceptional, and necessity is the mother of all inventions.
And in the spirit of doing things differently, we want to challenge you to share your remote work experience with us on our social media channels. A short video telling the world what remote work has meant to you, what you loved, what you hated and whether you’d rather stay remote or return to the office. Tag us on Twitter, Instagram or LinkedIn with your video #IAndRemote. We’ll look forward to interacting with you on social media. Stay safe!