Switching to Remote Work and Adjusting Your Business to the Growing Demand for Online Communication
With closed schools, canceled events, and the government’s recommendations to stay at home, our company decided to switch to remote work. Last Wednesday, our leaders recommended that we work from home, and we took their advice. The next day, almost everyone had “working remotely” as their status on our company’s Slack.
It’s a big transition for us because we don’t normally have remote work at LiveChat. However, thanks to the nature of our business and the fact that our work is well documented, we could make it happen quickly.
Switching to remote work in less than 24 hours thanks to asynchronous communication
In the last two years, we’ve hired 113 new teammates. Even though we were seeing each other every day, at some point, it was inevitable that we would start using asynchronous communication (meaning it doesn’t happen in real-time). With our growing team, managing big projects, and dependencies between different departments (Product, Marketing, Admins), Slack and real-time conversations weren’t enough. We've implemented Scrum, but we needed a place where we could document our work. And we needed it to be easily accessible for everyone in the company.
That’s why, last year, we welcomed another teammate onboard - its name is Jira. It’s a tool, created by Atlassian, to plan, track, and manage agile software development projects. It has allowed us to mirror existing processes in a digital workflow. It’s a place where we look for information about the company and track the progress of our work.
Here’s some advice from Maciej Malesa, our CTO, who was responsible for implementing SCRUM and Jira in our company:
“For us, Jira works, but you can use any other tool that keeps your work in one place. Just remember that even the best tool won’t help you if you don’t have your processes and dependencies figured out in real life. Start by establishing tasks inside each team, and figure out the communication between different departments. Then, you can move it online.”
At LiveChat, thanks to working with Jira for a few months and the nature of our business operating 100% online, we were able to make the transition to remote work in less than 24 hours. Now, our office looks like this:
Find out what rules we follow now and how our communication has changed.
Working remotely at LiveChat – how the communication changed
To keep communication efficient, we’ve established some rules regarding working remotely that every teammate must follow.
Basic rules for working remotely at LiveChat:
- A “get-things-done” mindset - We try to not let remote work influence our daily routine in a bad way. We don’t wait until we’re back at the office, and we move things forward as scheduled. We attend every meeting as usual, although now it’s teleconferencing. For calls, we use Google Meet, Slack, and Zoom.
- Availability - We have core working hours (10 am - 3 pm) in which each teammate is available for others. That doesn’t apply to our Support Heroes, who work in shifts.
- We create meeting notes after each online call:
- Everything we work on is documented in Jira. With remote work, we focus on describing each task precisely so everyone knows what’s going on and to minimize the need to explain things all over again.
- Every project we handle has a public channel in Slack. That’s where our daily communication happens. We don’t lose any knowledge about the things we are working on.
- Teams working in SCRUM still have events like planning, daily, review, and retro. We mostly use Google Hangouts for them. Teams that are not working in SCRUM update themselves on a daily basis. The flow is a mandatory daily call followed by updates on project channels and documenting progress in Jira.
- We try to avoid offline Slack status and try to be available for each other even more than we were at the office.
Besides these changes, we would like to assure you that all of our products and infrastructure are up and running as usual. All operations, including product development and support, are running like normal. And our Support Heroes are there for you 24/7.
Since the coronavirus pandemic doesn’t influence the way we communicate with customers, switching to remote work was smooth for us. But what about other industries and their communication with customers?
Communication changes among different industries
For internal communication, companies around the world switched to teleconferencing and Slack. However, there’s still the case of external communication with customers. The demand for online communication will only grow, and some companies will face an important test: Are they able to provide help for their customers?
Many industries already noted an increase in the number of chats amid the crisis. For example, here’s how the number of chats changed in the shipping and logistics industries among our customers across the world.
Companies in the movies and entertainment industries have also seen a peak in their number of chats related to people staying at home. This trend will most likely continue. Here’s a chart with the number of chats for Italy – the first country in Europe that ordered a nation-wide quarantine.
Companies in the consumer goods industries across the world saw a very big increase in chats because many people stopped going to malls and shopping centers entirely and are now only ordering products online.
Other industries, like education, saw a drop in the number of chats as a direct result of schools closing.
Depending on how the situation evolves, educational institutions might have to start offering online classes at some point. If that happens, these numbers might quickly double because students and parents will have many questions that they previously handled offline. Hopefully, the ability to have multiple chats at the same time and ready-made canned responses will make it easier for employees to answer all the inquiries they receive.
There are also other challenges to face in various industries. Companies that offer help through call-centers may need to close their offices in a worst-case scenario. As a result, they may have to switch from voice communication to chat as the only option to provide instant support from home. If you’re one of the companies facing the struggles of changing to online communication, we’re here to help you.
We’ll help you keep your business going with online communication
We understand that it’s critical to quickly adjust to keep your business safe and operational. Since we don’t want to add even more worries and unnecessary expenses during an already stressful time, we have prepared a special offer for those who want to try our tools (LiveChat, HelpDesk, ChatBot, and KnowledgeBase).
If your company needs to switch to remote work, we can offer you an extended trial period so that you can test out how these tools work for you. Additionally, we can offer you a 50% total discount on your first annual payment.
Let us know if you need help with switching to a live chat option. We’re here 24/7 to answer all of your questions.
Care to Chat for nonprofit organizations
We also support nonprofit organizations helping the community, especially during this time of need. You can apply for LiveChat for Nonprofits and get our product for free. If you’re for-profit and can show how you support others, you can apply as well. If you need our support or you know an organization that could benefit from this, let us know.
Coming up next
In the upcoming weeks, you can expect a post about what we’ve learned in the last few weeks by working remotely at LiveChat. I will also bring you the perspective of our Support Heroes: how they handle supporting our clients while being home without their teammates, and how they communicate with each other. Stay tuned, and write to us if you have any questions! You can also reach out to me on Twitter @okolodynska. Take care of yourself!