NEED TO WORK REMOTELY? HOW DO WE DO IT AT DACHS?

Hints and examples to help you with implementing a remote work environment.

DACHS has been supporting big pharma companies globally for over two decades, using remote working tools. We are accustomed to working from home offices, and are cognizant of its pros and cons.

To switch from working in offices to working from home is a daunting task for some industries and impossible for others, but consultancy, software development, and similar industries have been doing this for many years already. Of course, when the office is shut down suddenly and all staff must work from a home, it requires a rapid response. There is no time to evaluate, test, and experiment with tools. This is what this article aims to help with, to give you an example of how this can be achieved.

Since our services are predominantly consulting, software development, business analysis, support, etc., many of our staff have already been working from their homes. Even at the office, we mostly work remotely with our clients.

DACHS provides equipment and services to all employees to be able to work from home. In the past, most of our work was done at the office, perhaps a day or two from home. Currently we work exclusively from home.

Our standard home office equipment includes pretty much the same set that we use in the office (laptop, docking station, multiple monitors, IP phone, headset, etc.). A major difference is that everybody uses his or her own broadband internet connection at home that might not be as reliable as the leased line in the office. Therefore, we also provide corporate mobile subscriptions that can serve as a backup internet solution whenever it is needed.

We have tried many remote working tools throughout the years. Here is what we are using currently.

Collaboration:

We use Microsoft Teams for online teamwork, file sharing, concurrent file editing, chats, video calls, and meetings.

Management, task delegation and controlling:

Managers are facing the challenge of maintaining employee productivity when working from home. To log activities, we use Clockify, an online time tracking tool. It is simple to use, available on mobiles and provides useful management reports. Although, it cannot show if someone has really worked during the time tracked, we also use performance checks.

For managing performance, where it is applicable, we introduced Jira, which we use as a ticketing tool. In our projects we have tasks/tickets which are assigned to someone

who is responsible for completing/resolving them. When you create a task, you estimate the time it will take to complete it. The project leader is responsible for monitoring and controlling that each task is finished in good quality and in a timely manner.

Information security tools and measures:

Our customers’ fundamental concern is that access and handling of their information is secure. Keeping this in mind, DACHS has set up rules and documented procedures in regard to working from home. However, rules are meaningless, unless they are enforced (technically using e.g. complex passwords and secure communication channels). Therefore, it is also crucial to have an information security awareness program in place. We circulate weekly information security bulletins to our staff that cites some relevant news or interesting articles to inform and keep our staff abreast of the importance of security.

Tips how to maintain a social life:

The complete physical isolation from other colleagues is hard for all of us. Talking on the phone is different than meeting face to face.

We encourage using video calls to make the meetings and calls more personal. We created an online chatroom for coffee breaks where colleagues can discuss personal topics.

We also instituted the use of a personal employee recognition tool for giving small bonuses to each other. It is very helpful to have a tool by which everyone can praise and recognize others for what they have achieved or just say thanks for a help they provided. We use Bonusly for this purpose, helping to create a rewarding working environment.

These are the tools we currently use to seamlessly continue business operation. We miss the occasional unofficial chats at the coffee or the water cooler corner, but as far as work, we have no interruption due to these recent events. If you are a company providing consultancy, software development, expert advice, support or similar, like DACHS, you can achieve the same level of flexibility by equipping your employees with the ability to work from home. We hope we gave you practical ideas and examples to help you with implementing a remote work environment.

The home office capability may become part of your disaster situation handling as well, which every company should have. It proved to be very handy for DACHS in this current pandemic.

23/03/2020