During this global epidemic, the debate on working remotely has ended. It’s no longer a conversation on should you offer it or does it increase or decrease productivity. It is now a requirement for the majority of the world. I see many companies struggling to figure out what that means and too many posts talking about how to “transition” to remote work. But to be honest, in 2020 this shouldn’t really be so hard.
At XDS, we have three offices (Philly, Atlanta, and Charleston) and last week we made the decision to close our offices and move to be completely remote until things return to normal. Quite frankly, it’s been pretty easy. Not much has really changed. We’ve really had an unfair advantage because my partner (Shai Reichert) and I set our company up to be “remote work ready” and digitally native from day one. Why? Because we wanted our two office locations to feel like one. We wanted to give us and our employees the freedom to live our lives. We wanted to hire the right talent without worry about where they live.
For our company, the transition to working fully remote has been pretty seamless, and that’s because we’ve essentially had a number of platforms and processes in place from day one. Below is a list of what has made our transition pretty easy.
• Communication – We run our business off of Slack. Every project/brand has a channel. People assigned to project/brand are invited to each channel. All conversations/questions are in the slack channel. No one sends internal emails. When conversations warrant it, we click the call button on Slack and have a quick phone call.
• Storage – We started with Google Drive, then moved use Dropbox in late 2018 for full HIPPA compliance, always relying on a cloud storage solution. All files are stored virtually and automatically backed up. We need to send a file, we send a Dropbox link. When we need to share project assets, we share a directory and set appropriate permissions. Everyone has access to everything at all times. No archaic shared servers. It’s that simple.
• Project tracking – We use Asana. Every project/task has a ticket that contains the project details, notes, deliverables, assignments, status. dropbox links, etc. It’s all documented, all online. Everyone can access anywhere, anytime, and our process aligns with our project management style.
• Time tracking – As a company our mindset has never been about how long people from our team have been in their chairs. We care about folks having enough work to keep them busy. So having a simple tracking system that allows managers and producers to see project hours in real-time is vital. I’ve used a lot of systems in the past. We use Harvest and it has proven to be really simple and effective.
With the above systems already in place, our transition has been seamless. We’ve learned a slew of other lessons along the way as well.
The next phase of this national emergency is coming next week with most schools closing, so for us parents (I have 4 boys under 12) it creates a new challenge – working at home with crazy kids running around. We know the whole country is going through this together so I’m pretty sure everyone will understand if my 5-year-old joins a conference call or two, or if my 7-year-old designs a few websites. He’s young but his color theory is pretty well developed.
Douglas Rockhill – Co-Founder @ The Experience Design Studio (XDS)
Douglas is a digital native who has been creating digital experiences since 1998. When he’s not doing his first job as a soccer dad and surf instructor to his four sons, he can be found leading a great team at The Experience Design Studio.