Working Together, Remotely – Part II

In the first part of the “Working Together, Remotely” series, we shared stories of Scorers who have had to face quite a few changes while working from home. Today, we will take a closer look at how our People Operations Manager, Annika, and Customer Onboarding Expert, Austin, have adapted and what has changed for them.

The current situation continues to change the business landscape as we know it. Whether you’ve been lucky enough to experience only moderate impact or one of those profoundly affected by the lockdown, it has undoubtedly forced us all to adjust and come out of our comfort zone.

And just like US Navy SEALs are taught on their first day of training to get comfortable being uncomfortable, companies have learned to make it work in these difficult times. By now, many businesses have actually managed to find their footing, and turned the situation around for them, resulting in many amazing innovations and initiatives.

Amazon, for example, has launched an initiative to accelerate COVID-19 research and put in place an extensive financial plan to support their workers during these difficult times. Both Amazon and PepsiCo have also created thousands of new jobs to help out the communities during these difficult times.

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In the end, it’s these united efforts and shared stories that make it easier for all of us to withstand the crisis. Even when everyone’s experiences are very individual, and can vary depending on the location, industry, and other business-specific factors. They can also vary for different positions.

People whose roles don’t require interaction with others have been able to adjust quicker. But those whose role is dependent on interacting with other people – for instance, managing teams or supporting customers – have had to find a way to maintain relationships.

Now, more than ever, it’s been crucial for them to be empathetic and conscious of everyone’s situation. Processes put in place under normal circumstances might not hold during the crisis, and every case has to be treated differently. For example, it’s necessary to temporarily shift focus from attracting new customers to retaining existing ones. Because it’s imperative to be in contact with your customers and help them through the crisis by implementing different support packages.

Scorer stories

Scoros people operations team

Mai, Annika & Stina – our people operations team

In Scoro, we have many people working every day to make sure our team and clients are happy. Our People Operations Manager, Annika, and Customer Onboarding Expert, Austin, both have the important task of ensuring that our team and clients are still getting the best experience, regardless of the challenging times we’re all facing.

How has the current situation affected your job in particular? Are you doing something differently?

Austin: As the majority of my work happens online, the way I do my job hasn’t changed too much, it’s where I do my job that has changed. That said, Customer Onboarding is a client-facing role, which means progress can heavily depend on the client’s schedule. With the current pandemic and economic situation, I do have clients that have postponed onboarding to focus on their own business. But this gives me more time to work with active clients. I’m more available for impromptu Zoom calls or my internal side projects, which I didn’t have as much time for previously.

Annika: In essence, my job has remained the same. But the biggest difference compared to working in the office is the lack of direct and spontaneous communication, which plays a huge part of my role. Luckily, we have so many modern online communication tools that can make you feel like you’re all together in one room.

How do you feel about working remotely? What have been the biggest challenges?

Annika: The biggest challenge has been to transform my home into office space, school, kindergarten, all at once, without losing the right balance. This experience has made me confident that it can be done successfully, but only when you’re not putting too much pressure on yourself. It’s not a competition or test of your competence – nothing happens if you don’t make a fresh-made meal three times a day or when your child is on the video call with you.

“I’ve had to adapt my work habits, put on the blinders not to get distracted by my stuff at home or my dog who begs for belly rubs. Luckily I have a home office with a proper desk, chair, and monitor, so this does help set the mood.” – Austin

Austin: I’ve always been a work-at-office kind of person. The environment of being in the office, together with others who are working, gave me the boost to get my work done. Besides, my team is very open to helping, so in the office, I had that ability to immediately see who was free to answer my question. Although we’re using Slack for this now, there’s that human element that was underappreciated a few months ago.

Austin & Zu

Austin and his dog Zucchini

Have there been any positive surprises or realizations?

Annika: The time I would have otherwise spent on commuting, I can now use smarter – to read a book, work out, or just enjoy my breakfast a little longer. I am also noticing how this situation starts to feel a more natural week after week. It’s true what they say – we get used to everything, and you can find something good in every situation.

Austin: As we are following the recommendations to stay home, my wife and I have been spending our time working on our yard. Last summer, we moved into a new house with a yard, and we always had plans for it. With all this mandatory time at home after work and on weekends, we finally have the time to work on it and can already see the progress we’ve made.

Do you think this situation will change the way you will carry on working after the situation has passed?

Austin: Although this situation has made me more grateful for the interactions we have in the office, I’ve realized that I am fully capable of doing my job from home. And I might even continue to do so more often in the future.

“I have a feeling we will never go back to working exactly the way we did before.” – Annika

Annika: I’ve seen that working from home is a great alternative to an office environment but not a permanent solution for me. For one, I feel that the change in environment helps me get in the right mindset quicker. But home office days are better for tasks that require a lot of focus and attention to detail. Collaborative and creative projects, on the other hand, progress quicker in the office environment.

What would be your recommendation for the others working in the same positions?

Annika: There’s an Estonian saying – laughter brings health (“Naer on terviseks!”). Thus, it’s important to keep the spirit high during these difficult times. Find ways to bring people together through online team events and games.

Austin: As I continue to have regular Zoom calls with clients, I’ve realized it’s fine to be dressed more casual (even with the camera on). In addition, opening a window and getting some fresh air throughout the day makes such a difference.

To finish this two-part series, I’d like to share these three extra tips from Annika we’ve found helpful during the turmoil times:

  • Plan your time – Without the water cooler conversations, it’s especially important to have all your calls, meetings, and discussions planned and scheduled well in time.
  • Try new things and learn from this experience – Now is a great time to change things up and try a new way of working. Find out which is the most efficient way for you and make sure to take advantage of this once back in the office.
  • Be informed and in contact with others – A lot of situations that just happen naturally in the office cannot be taken for granted. Make time to ask how your coworkers are doing and assure that everyone is informed about the relevant updates.

PS! If you missed the first part of the series, head over now to the “Working Together, Remotely” article and find out how our Office Manager, Karmen, and Marketing Specialist, Anett, have adapted, what’s changed for them and what would be their recommendation for people in similar roles.