Entrepreneurship

What We Learned In Our First Weeks Working Remotely

what-we-learned-in-our-first-weeks-working-remotely

Like many of our customers, LoyaltyLion has had to change the way we operate in response to COVID-19. We made the decision to stop working from our physical offices before we were instructed to, so we’ve had some time to adjust to remote working. We thought it was time for us to share the key tips and learnings that might help our merchants and partners to adjust too.

Keep reading to hear from LoyaltyLion’s Talent Acquisition Manager, Shane Mayes as he tells us more about our journey so far.

The top five things to know as you switch to remote working

1. Never underestimate over-communication

Communication is your secret weapon as you adjust to having your whole team work remotely. If the leadership team is vocal and transparent about what changes are required, and what the impact of those changes will be, then that sentiment will cascade through the organization as other managers communicate effectively too. That means that nothing gets lost in translation, and everyone in the business is clear about why and how things are being done, putting you in the strongest possible position as you switch to a remote setup.

2. Put the well in wellbeing

Wellbeing is something that has increasingly been on the agenda for most organizations over the past few years, but now it takes on a whole new look and feel. It’s easy to come up with blanket policies around remote working and wellbeing, but the truth is that different people have different needs. You will need to have several initiatives on the go as a result, but they need to be opt-in so that people can find what works for them. Some people will thrive in solitude and others will miss the interaction. A blocker to wellbeing quickly becomes a blocker to productivity, so initiate a feedback loop and tap into how people are feeling from the outset.

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3. Accept that there will be an adjustment period

In a scenario where your workforce had months of prior warning to get used to the idea of fully remote working, there would be a period of adjustment once the change actually happened. For many of us, the time frame here was days or even hours. Therefore you need to accept that people will need time to acclimatize. This means that you also need time to decide whether problems are actually problems, or whether they are just teething issues. Don’t make changes rashly – save decisions until you’re sure that you have a longer-term problem on your hands.

4. As Bruce Lee says, “Be like water”

Having said you shouldn’t make changes rashly, you should be quick to ditch things that clearly do not work. There are things that you’ll dream up, thinking they will make a real difference to your team, which in fact quickly show themselves to do exactly the opposite. Be fluid – remain open to ideas and quick to try new things, but if you know something isn’t working, adapt it fast. A good example from LoyaltyLion is our weekly team meeting. We wanted to keep the format the same as it was in the office, but it became quickly clear that not all things translate online. We had to iterate quickly, changing tradition temporarily for a new approach that would have a positive impact on motivation.

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5. Output over input

This is a particularly important one for us at LoyaltyLion, because autonomy is a core value that our team rates extremely highly. When you’re not side by side with your team every day, it can be easy to get hung up on measuring input but in fact, it’s the output that really matters. As a manager or business owner, it’s a big change and an uncomfortable reality, but you have to trust your team and find ways for them to demonstrate their effectiveness without taking away their autonomy. A mistake many managers make here is doubling up on reporting – if you’re asking your team to track and report on productivity metrics that you can pull from a CRM or another system then consider if this is the best use of their time.

So, what are LoyaltyLion’s key learnings from our time remote working to date? 

Learning #1 – Facetime is not just an Apple thing

The first thing we learned is that daily face-to-face interaction with your team is invaluable. Even if it’s only via Zoom, Facetime or a Google Hangout, it’s important to ensure that team members are seeing each other in the flesh. From daily standups to regular sessions, we now actively encourage all meetings to be video meetings so that people can read reactions but more importantly have human interactions throughout the day.

Learning #2 – Beware of creeping hours

When people are living and working in one environment, it can become difficult to ensure they get away from their screens. This makes it harder to switch off, and return to work fresh the next day and increases the risk of burnout. We’re now encouraging all team members to maintain physical barriers between work and home spaces, to turn off notifications after a certain time, and to have beginning and end of the day rituals. You can’t fall into a routine, you have to form it but we’ve realized we have to take accountability for helping people to do that.

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Learning #3 – Stay connected as a company

One of the positive things to come out of this situation is that within LoyaltyLion, meetings are more efficient than ever and people feel very connected to their individual teams and functions. However one of the things we prize most – our connection as a wider business – has proved to be harder to maintain. Initially, we didn’t put enough emphasis on cross-team and cross-function collaboration, and the daily interactions that happen by default in the office. We are no longer taking this for granted, and we’ve put in place different initiatives that give people from different teams reasons to come together and interact with each other, both in terms of work and more generally.

And last but not least, what do we recommend reading around remote working? 

So there you have it – a little insight into how the team at LoyaltyLion has adapted to fully remote working. We’ll keep updating this post with new learnings that might be valuable to other businesses who are in the same boat. If you have any questions, then drop us a line at marketing@loyaltylion.com.

This article originally appeared in the LoyaltyLion blog and has been published here with permission.

About the author

Steve Hutt

Steve has entrepreneurship in his DNA. In the early days of online commerce, he achieved Power Seller status at eBay, which then propelled him to become a founding partner of VisionPros.com, a contact lens, and eyewear retailer. After a successful exit from his startup, he embarked on his next journey into agency work in e-commerce and digital strategy.

Currently, Steve is part of the Merchant Success Team at Shopify Plus, where he is a Strategic Advisor helping brands continue to grow and scale with the Shopify Commerce Platform.

To maintain a competitive edge and life of learning mantra, Steve also hosts and produces a top-rated weekly podcast show, eCommerce Fastlane, where he interviews Shopify partners and subject matter experts who share the latest marketing strategy, tactics, platforms, and must-have apps, to help Shopify brands build and scale lifetime customer loyalty.