Task management best practices for remote/work-from-home teams

As COVID-19 continues to impact communities globally with health care professionals working tirelessly to prepare for emergencies and prevent the further spread of the pandemic, technology companies are also doing their part. Twitter, Google, and Amazon have issued directives instructing employees to work from home as the companies themselves move to pull out of tech events while hosting their own events virtually.

With employees working from home, this means that teams will be distributed for the foreseeable future. This also means that critical incident management can be challenging, but an important challenge to overcome. Being prepared for anything is literally the purpose of a well-rounded incident response plan, including the abrupt distribution of incident management teams.

What are some strategies to ensure that remote incident management teams are better prepared to react during critical events?

Let’s look at some best practices when teams work remotely:

  • Setting up communication channels:Excellent incident response teams know how integral an uninterrupted communication channel is. Communication is key for successful collaboration and the flow of relevant information for quick resolution of issues. Remote teams need to set up reliable means of communication for members to get in touch with each other with all possible haste.
  • Assemble the best toolchain for your team:Another aspect of systematic incident response teamwork are the tools used by teams. Today’s incident management platforms are designed to help workers no matter where they are in the world. Production teams today use a daunting arsenal of applications for monitoring, tracking, logging, analytical and alerting tools for staying updated on the health of their services. Constant notifications can lead to alert fatigue and slower response times, ultimately hitting their organizations where it hurts.
  • Practice blamelessness:Unanticipated change can be taxing for teams, when things inevitably go wrong it might be tempting to assign blame. Pointing fingers builds distrust within teams. Rather, now would be a perfect opportunity for learning.

Organizations have to rapidly adopt best practices for adapting to changes as employees get used to working and responding to critical events from home. In spite of the general pace of the world slowing down customers still expect services to stay up. Reliability is still as important as ever and teams that identify and adapt to the changing dynamic will stay ahead of their competition in the long run.

Along with the employers, the employees also have to find ways to cope with working from home. Employees who are new to remote work can find working in isolation distracting and unproductive. There are literally 100s of blog posts on the internet on this topic, we’ve gone through the bulk of them and compiled some of the most agreed upon ones:

  • Get ready for work like every day:Take a shower, get dressed and set up a home office. It can be tempting to work in your pajamas but long time remote workers unanimously agree that it’s counterproductive to do so. Having a dedicated home set up for work also allows you to step away and take breaks, which brings us to our point number two
  • Take adequate breaks:Schedule breaks, walk your dog, exercise, make a pot of coffee, whatever helps you refresh your mind and stretch your limbs. This helps keep your sanity in check while you grapple with a particularly resilient bug or writer’s block
  • Talk to your co-workers: Working from home for weeks can feel isolating, which is why communication is key. Set up stand-up meetings once every day, hear your colleagues speak about what they’re doing and vice versa. For more informal conversations, set up video or voice calls with the internal communication tool of your org, with anyone, it can be a random colleague or someone specific. Communication can help you focus on your work goals for the day and ensure that everyone is on the same page as well.
  • Set up an end-time:Do not over-exert your mind and body with ceaseless work, set up clear cut starting and ending time and let everyone know on Slack when you start and stop working.
  • Hydrate:This one is a no-brainer but people often forget to drink water when they get totally engrossed in their projects. Set reminders if you have to, keep your water bottle near your laptop or workstation where it is visible.

Do share this article with your coworkers and as always, stay safe.