03/04/2020

Proekspert remote work diary: week 3

The third week of our company-wide remote work is complete. Every week presents its challenges and takeaways.

Our employees were asked to answer a few questions about their third week’s experience of company-wide remote work. This week we are focusing on the idea of physical isolation from colleagues and its effects. Find out how our company keeps a sense of community during company-wide remote work.

Set up calls for chit-chat unrelated to work

Self-isolation and remote work, especially the company-wide variety, leaves no room for “water cooler” talk in the kitchen and corridors. Regular chit-chat with your colleagues is an important part of every work environment. However, while working remotely, conversations often go straight to the point. To preserve the company culture we’ve worked so hard for, we are actually encouraging chit-chat!

There are many ways to establish communication with your team while working remotely. However, teams must think of a strategy that best suits them and allows them to connect. Every team dynamic is different, and finding a way to connect on matters unrelated to work is important.

In Proekspert, we have a separate channel for online coffee breaks. Some teams are doing it themselves, as well, though in smaller groups. I admit, at first it might be awkward, and perhaps a bit forced, but by the end of the meeting the team always wants to do it again.

We have also set up a remote work channel where people can discuss their issues, share tips, and ask for advice. We share pictures, too, because it helps boost the sense of community. We share pictures of our work setups, animals, kids, and food. It always lifts our mood.

Tiina, Chief Culture Officer

We have morning coffee with our teams each morning for random ramblings, like we used to have in the office kitchen. And we have a Friday evening chillout 🙂

Urmas, Business Development

We have coffee via MS Teams once a week and chat about life.

Marko, Parent, Teacher, Cook, Cleaner, and Software Developer

We begin our weekly meetings by measuring everyone’s temperature to see how each and every one of us is doing — seriously! We take part in our company’s organized coffee-corner talks, and challenge each other in our physical activity competition. Outside of work, I have so many projects: building a chicken coop, getting my hands dirty in the garden, playing spy games with my kids, shopping online… oh, so much to do :). I also go on dates with my husband by attending online live concerts. We also plan to go to the Louvre this Saturday.

Liis, HR Lead

Set up company-wide strategies that allow employees to connect

Sharing daily experiences online may be less natural for some than others. Thus, such practices need to be promoted and encouraged on a company level. People need to be given a direction to move.

At Proekspert, we’ve set up special channels focusing on remote work activities. HR is keeping up the engagement with a weekly questionnaire to see how everyone is doing. Further actions are taken based on information gathered from these questionnaires. 

We encourage employees to have cameras on during group calls. It really does make a difference and allows us to better connect when you can see a person’s movements, facial expressions, and reactions. 

Also, we have a weekly all-hands meeting where important updates are shared. 

In-house, our employees have taken the initiative to organize events themselves. We have a book club and game nights that are a great success and help us stay connected.

Tiina, Chief Culture Officer

I feel that we are even more efficient and organized during meetings now. I’ve noticed much more discipline lately.

Urmas, Business Development

We try to use cameras whenever possible. For me, personally, it makes a huge difference whether you see a face or not.

Kadri, Agile and People Coach

From a work-related point of view, everything proceeds as usual, no activities are canceled or changed, we have stand-ups, demos, sprint plannings, refinings, and discussions. The work goes as planned.

Denis, Software Developer

Join online forums, discussions, communities, etc.

Having a sense of community united by a single idea is paramount to one’s mental health. Many miss social gatherings and public events while being in self-isolation.

In Proekspert, we are surfing the web and searching for interesting opportunities for leisure time for our employees. We have set up a special page where employees can share websites they are using in their free time: platforms with online courses, some interesting hackathons, workouts, etc. 

A great idea is to start your own interest group. Some are organizing coding challenges and problem-solving sessions.

In my yoga community, we created a Facebook page. On a daily basis, we share what we’re doing and how we’re doing. We have a nice group of people who support each other, people who have a similar system of values. A group united by a common purpose is very comforting. You see great examples of others and get motivation and inspiration.

Tiina, Chief Culture Officer

Self-isolation doesn’t mean you can’t gather with friends. We have some virtual wine dates and even virtually celebrated a birthday.

The more video, the better 🙂 I’ve found the Zoom gallery view works ideally for larger crowds, as you can see everyone’s face on the same screen.

Liis, HR Lead

I am using a lot of Instagram Live classes to work out. Some gyms have pages with their live classes, and there are chat groups where people push each other to move!

Helen, Accountant

Work-related events are mostly happening in teams. I’m really happy that social/private life routines are slowly coming back (yoga in Zoom, exercising in the My Fitness netfit channel, jogging with a friend over Skype).

Kadri, Agile and People Coach
The third week of our company-wide remote work is complete.

I don’t mind isolation, if only it were in quiet conditions – and with kids, that’s hard to get. I’ve turned one room into a playground for the kids so that they stay there most of the day. Since playgrounds are closed, I’ve even turned a lot of furniture upside down so that the kids can climb and jump off the furniture (onto a bed). Be creative and improvise!

Marko, Parent, Teacher, Cook, Cleaner, Software Developer

I have a 3D printer, experience using it, and can share my knowledge. In my free time, I follow 3D printing on Reddit. Also,  I’m into photography and like learning more from others and sharing my own experience. I follow Reddit photography-related communities and the TalTech photography club.

Denis, Software Developer

About Proekspert remote work diaries

Since many people around the world are bringing their work home to slow the spread of COVID-19, to keep our spirits up this diary aims to share and gain insight from each other’s experiences. Every week is new and different. 

Here, you can explore our company-wide remote work experience by weeks.

Also, check out the Spotify playlist of songs that help our employees stay productive!


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