Now I know how colleagues python look, or How our team maintains relations at a distance during the distance

Hello, Habr! My name is Dasha Rudnik, I lead HR at DataLine.
Almost 500 people work in our company, and before the coronavirus epidemic, we already knew a lot about distributed work. Some of the employees sat in the office on Borovaya, some on Korovinsky highway, had their own landing in St. Petersburg. In March, we switched to udalenka in 1 day, and everything turned around: conf-calls, video conferences, work chats.

The flow of information grew, work processes were quickly rebuilt, but we wanted to maintain our informal atmosphere. We found a replacement for standard meetings, but what about the smoltoks in the cooler and in the smoking room? What to do if you can no longer exchange news in the queue for coffee and jam in the music room after dinner? We were afraid that without the usual rituals and communication we would begin to feel sad.

In line for coffee, we were charged with mood, chatting with a barista and learning the news.

Almost immediately, HR and leaders began to come up with new formats for informal communication, and employees offered their ideas. And now that helps us support each other on a remote site.

Telegram channel and chat

First of all, we created a Telegram channel for operational news and a chat flood. The chat has the rules of respectful communication. The rest is free space for discussing news, technology, recipes or pets.

While sharing photos of home offices, we learned that python lives with a colleague.

To understand that people feel normal, we launch surveys in the channel a couple of times a week. With the help of the channel, we also collect ideas for joint movement and watch how they enter. For example, this is how employees began to do yoga together.

At some point, the chat conversation turned to music. We wanted to collect our green playlist and share it on social networks, and in the end we discussed our favorite tracks until late at night. Here’s what got into the final music selection:

DataLine playlist on Yandex.Music

After this, a tradition appeared: every morning one of the employees sends a new track to the chat for the mood. Even on weekends.

Challenge Marathon

In Telegram, we added a bot that sends tasks to our internal “remote marathon” daily. For performance, employees are awarded points, the most active then exchange them for prizes. For 3 weeks of the marathon, we sent each other a video greeting, shared baking recipes, came up with unofficial names for the departments, recommended TV shows to our colleagues, stood on the bar together, composed rap about the data center and that’s not all.

From the tasks of employees we collect videos for social networks

They try to communicate with the bot in chat, argue and even flirt:

Options for Introverts

For morning conversations over coffee, one of the employees suggested launching his Random coffee – a service for random online meetings. It was developed by ourselves. At random, the service selects two people from the list of comers and sends a link to the video call. Previously, employees drank coffee with acquaintances, but now they finally got acquainted with those with whom they did not intersect at work earlier.

Support and feedback for executives

For managers, we have gathered recommendations on how to manage a team from a distance, for example: make conf calls shorter, but call up more often. Later we collected feedback and realized that there were more small daily meetings and the truth:

The feedback also applies to the CEO: after moving to udalenka we arranged a session of questions for him. Such sessions have been before, but offline. For a week they collected questions, and employees asked everything that worries them: how we will survive the crisis, what will happen with the salary, whether it is possible to continue working remotely after the end of self-isolation.

Educational webinars

Previously, we regularly held seminars on products and meetings, acquaintances with departments: who works where, what he does. All this was transferred to the format of webinars. Meeting online has also become more common: over the past 3 weeks we have conducted more seminars than in the last 3 months. More people are coming to webinars because it has become easier to join without leaving your workplace. It was more difficult for speakers who needed to get used to the lack of eye contact.

Help for beginners

We are still recruiting new employees and transferring interviews online. At first, the leaders feared that they would not be able to consider the person without a personal meeting, and the applicants were worried if they let in communication and equipment. But then cats, dogs and children of candidates appeared on the phone calls. So people all the same revealed from the informal side.

It is important for many newcomers even during the quarantine period to feel the atmosphere of the office where they have to work. They can come for a laptop and documents in safe conditions: we offered them a taxi to the office, made the schedule of meetings not so tight so as not to intersect with other people. If a personal meeting is not so important, we send equipment and documents with a courier. After that, the employees immediately go through the welcome seminar and get acquainted with the training manager, leader and mentor. With them, the calls also became almost daily.

Do we miss our light green office? Judging by the polls, still yes. But we certainly did not stay alone with this and even began to find advantages in remote work.
So, many admit that during the udalenka some colleagues learned better than during the entire office era.

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