Numerous Engineering Department Heads Attended a Webinar on the Benefits of Working from Home

The Works webinar, “Best Practices for Remote Engineering Teams: How Teams Can Thrive Without the Office,” attracted more than 500 participants.

The current global climate has caused a reflective reaction, prompting engineering teams worldwide to work remotely for the first time. In order to provide support to these teams, it is requested that assistance be offered.

Sha Ma, Chief Technology Officer and Vice President of Engineering at GitHub, gave an insightful presentation about the importance of open communication and collaboration within teams. The discussion was recorded and is available for viewing on this page at any time.

The timely submission of the inquiries demonstrated the gravity of the situation. We believed that you would be keen to learn about the primary concerns of your colleagues. In essence, the primary issues are as follows.

Effectiveness and Confidence

At the recent meeting, the most frequent inquiries focused on how to best maintain accountability without fostering an atmosphere of fear. These discussions were spurred by Sha’s efforts to create a more reliable environment. To this end, it was suggested that daily stand-ups be held in order to allow team members and leaders to evaluate their own and each other’s work. Additionally, the Chief Technology Officer of The Works discussed the merits of evaluating productivity based on actual results as opposed to subjective estimations.

Sha emphasised the importance of communication and suggested that managers should create an environment in which developers are comfortable to showcase “their progress and challenges” if they have any concerns regarding the productivity of remote employees.

At the discussion, Sha highlighted the importance of establishing trust in a remote working environment, especially with the current circumstances of economic and psychological turmoil. She noted that it is essential for people to feel safe in their workplace, as fear of job loss or illness can have a detrimental effect on productivity. To foster a culture of trust, Sha’s team implements initiatives such as a weekly photo exchange of family snapshots during team meetings and a dedicated Slack channel for pet photos. These activities, she believes, are small yet meaningful acts of kindness that can help build a more trusting society.

The Chief Technology Officer of the company highlighted the importance of trust and advocated for taking an empathetic approach when dealing with a decrease in an employee’s performance. He stated that if an employee’s performance has been unsatisfactory, it is essential to take the time to consider any personal issues that may be contributing to the decline.

Instruments and Their Employment

At the event, there were several inquiries and observations regarding the usage of tools, with several suggestions from the attendees. One participant mentioned that, in the absence of any limitations, the use of Slack could easily become a disordered environment with many conversations happening simultaneously. They proposed that, if an issue requires more than one Slack message, the discussion should be moved to a Zoom meeting, as per Works’ recommendation. Additionally, some suggested that having permanent Zoom connections between sites would enable visitors to virtually “walk by and say hi”.

The Works team have found great success in utilizing Kudoboard to virtually “high-five” each other, an extra tool which was suggested by the speakers. Furthermore, they use Slack bots to notify each other when pull requests are created on GitHub, as well as a home-grown software which allows users to send compliments to one another in regards to professional and personal qualities. During the virtual audience, one member suggested Status Hero as a platform for virtual stand-ups.

Recruitment and Induction

The discussion of onboarding new employees was a highly relevant topic. In the past, GitHub had a practice of flying new employees to their San Francisco headquarters for onboarding. However, this is not possible at the moment. In response, Sha and the Chief Technology Officer of Works both recommended the creation of comprehensive wiki pages to provide new hires with the information and resources they need to learn independently. Additionally, Sha proposed the idea of having “buddies” – experienced workers who can be contacted via text or email – to aid new employees in addressing any questions or gaining clarification.

The current reality is that the world is continually adjusting to a changing social and professional landscape, meaning that there is no one-size-fits-all “new normal”. Businesses must find innovative approaches to collaboration and growth while adhering to the ever-changing regulations related to travel and in-person activities. Additionally, companies must become adept at hiring and onboarding in a remote-first environment. To explore these topics more thoroughly, join us for our upcoming webinar. Be sure to stay vigilant as the situation progresses.

Related Article: Are Future Workforces Prepared for the Revolution in Remote Work?

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