Sitting in New Zealand, planning our co-production workshops with a range of young people and workers, it seems apposite to share some of our experiences of working as a remote team.
Mind Of My Own has a head office in central London. The quirky Vestry House sits in the grounds of St Giles Church, right next to Tottenham Court Road Tube. This is where we have secure physical storage for the small amount of paper documents we generate and are obliged to keep, but also where Amanda works every Friday doing our book keeping and finance. Aside from that we use the Vestry for admin and management purposes, while everyone works from their home, also making use of hubs and free spaces to meet up with each other.
We’ve been reflecting on what makes our remote team work and we came up with these five points:
One of the core principles in Mind Of My Own’s mission is to be a good employer. Directors Jill and Yvonne have decades of public sector people management between them and Jill takes the lead on line managing every member of the team through regular individual supervision. We set high expectations, support the team to achieve and celebrate success.
Monthly team meeting
The whole team gets together at least once a month. The dates are set a year in advance and we expect full attendance, of course allowing for holidays and sickness. We make the team meetings productive by focusing on action; we make them inclusive by ensuring everyone is able to share what they are working on.
Weekly catch up
Every Friday morning we have a Skype call with Team Mind Of My Own and our development partners Neontribe. We have borrowed the format from Agile method, known as ‘stand-up’, whereby each person in turn says briefly what they have done that week, what they will be working on next week, and what help they need from whom. We try to keep this remote meeting to half an hour.
Our favoured communication channel for staying in touch is Skype messaging. From early morning to late evening any combination of team members are chatting to one another, sharing news, seeking help with issues, or just being sociable.
Good software selection
We use a selection of digital tools that enable us to collaborate and work smarter, including Skype, Webex, Trello, Pipedrive and Realtime Boards. Oh – and occasionally email.
Will we continue as a remote team? Developments for the next twelve months will necessitate a bigger central base than the Vestry, but remote working Mind Of My Own-style is one of the reasons for our high staff morale so we won’t be changing it any time soon.