Where do I start?
2020 has been a year with a difference in so many ways with up’s, down’s and everything in between. If you had of asked me a year ago is it possible to turn Scaffold Digital into a business that functions day-to-day remotely, with no impact on our service offering or the solutions we provide (basically overnight), I honestly would have said: “No, absolutely not.” I vividly remember the announcement being made by the government on a Tuesday night in March that we will all have to work from home for the foreseeable future. This led to a short meeting on the Wednesday morning to put a very fast and loose plan in place with everyone packing up what they needed that afternoon to work from home indefinitely.
As a project manager I was filled with complete dread. I had never worked from home for any significant amount of time and I had never managed a fully remote team. Truthfully, I had no idea how the next few months would look like for Scaffold Digital, its clients or our team. But at no point did I feel alone, our team were committed to making this work together and so far it seems we have!
The first weeks… Then months
As I hadn’t ever really worked from home properly, I decided I needed a set up at home, a dedicated space that would allow me to focus during the day and not be distracted by the normal household things like putting a quick wash on or cleaning the living room. All be it my space ended up being at the end of my bed I was relatively happy with it. I had a sizeable desk, I had brought home an additional monitor and most importantly my chair! I quickly realised how important it is to have a good chair when you’re sitting at a desk for 8 hours every day. All things I very much took advantage of when going to the office day and daily. Having this space helped me to stay focused, with no distractions and it also separated me from downstairs, where at that time I was spending all of my time in the evenings.
Now, it was time to do some actual work! Every morning at 9:30 we had a quick team call to discuss the day ahead. I say quick, at the start of lockdown it was more like an hour plus every morning because we spent the first 30 minutes just casually chatting. We found this really helped with team moral and we were also able to keep a close eye on project progress. I found that this chat in the morning allowed me to focus for the rest of the day without speaking to the person beside me every 10 minutes, just because it was easy.
Alongside our daily call we stayed active on Slack all day (an instant messaging tool). It meant I could chat to anyone in the team at any point and we also had general channels that the team could use to chat throughout the day. At the start of my career I think I had a bad experience with Slack. I was part of a team that all sat in the same room, but only wanted to communicate over Slack. I felt it was cold and hard to develop a relationship with anyone you worked with. Now, my opinion of it has changed massively. It has been an invaluable tool for us throughout the pandemic. It has allowed us to stay connected as a team. We do mostly use it for project-based communications. However, we do use it as a social tool every day, ranting about life, sharing GIFs, memes and the odd picture of a Mc Donald’s breakfast!
For me, a team is at the heart of every good business and when the pandemic hit in March, we had just hired two new people. I was worried we would struggle to get to know each other properly and most importantly I thought it would be difficult for the guys to fully understand our core values and how we like to function day to day. But again, I was proven to be worrying over nothing. The guys have become part of the team, just like they have always been here. We have all got to know each other at both a professional and a personal level. This has ultimately given us the confidence we need to continue to expand our team over the course of 2020-2021 with no fears over how we will manage the process. We are currently looking for 2 additional software engineers.
I must admit in March of this year I had no idea what the future would look like. The prospect of even fast-forwarding to November 2020 didn’t seem possible. However, sitting here now I am happy to say that Scaffold Digital hasn’t had to radically change and hasn’t naturally changed as a result of a global pandemic. We have a really strong core team, who deliver class leading software solutions. We have the same core set of clients and even some new ones who we have picked up over the course of what has been a challenging year for a lot of people and businesses alike.
However, as a project manager I have most certainly changed. My outlook on both team and project management has changed massively. I definitely would have been of the opinion that the core team needed to be in the same room to guarantee a level of service and quality we could stand over. Looking back, it now seems like a naïve approach to think a technology company needed to be in the same room. Thankfully, adjusting to remote working has been much easier than I expected. I have realised it opens many opportunities for us as business to grow both our team and client base across the globe. If you were someone who previously feared change, 2020 will have pushed you much further than you could have ever thought possible. With this in mind my advice would be to embrace it, use it to grow personally and/or professionally, use it to expand your experience in an ever-changing environment.
As a business one big thing we will take away from working through a global pandemic is that technology and digital solutions are more important than ever. The solutions we provide have helped our clients to stay connected to their customer base, keep trading when traditional retail is in jeopardy and to allow essential services to continue during a lockdown. It doesn’t look like things will change in the near future, so here are a few top tips:
- Allow for flexibility in timelines and resources
- Use the technology already available
- Work together for a common purpose
- Have a dedicated workspace
Thinking about a digital solution that could help you through this pandemic? Get in touch!