Working Remote, a d-wise Strength
Whilst we’re familiar with remote working, many of our clients have not historically encouraged their staff to adopt a true collaborative remote model, and we’ve spent many hours and days working at client sites when appropriate. It can be daunting for people (managers and staff) who have not done it before. Our clients have a range of concerns: are our work products and valuable data secure, are we able to interact and engage efficiently and effectively, is the workspace conducive to focus and concentration? All are valid concerns. Let’s deal with each of them in-turn.
d-wise is taking the stance of leaning into our work … we view the economy as everyone's responsibility and want to continue to do our part to minimize the overall impact.
Working from home (or remotely, in general) may increase the risk of physical theft, of data theft, of being over-looked, or of being over-heard.
The d-wise team use the Box cloud-storage solution a great deal, and we avoid storing information on our laptops as far as possible. For any data stored on laptops, encryption of the data at rest, use of strong passwords plus two factor authentication (2FA) provides us with confidence that the information is secure.
Aside from those technical cares described above, there are some common-sense techniques too, such as making sure the content of your screen can’t be observed through an external window, and that your professional conversations cannot be overheard by an inappropriate audience.
In between good security practices and an appropriate workspace, we are familiar with a raft of tools and techniques for engaging groups of people and working efficiently when not in the same room at the same time. d-wise is respected for the creativeness and problem-solving capabilities of our team members. Sometimes the creativity is best done face-to-face, but there are many tools that help us to get close to the quality of face-to-face, physical meetings.
There are many tools suited for remote working, but we’ve developed strong techniques to optimize the use of those tools, retaining engagement of participants along with maximizing collaboration.
Tools such as Confluence, Jira, Slido, Miro and Dovetail along with a video conferencing service such as Zoom are just a few examples of online collaborative, real-time tools (along with Office on the Web, and the equivalent Google suite). Each of these tools allows everybody to not just see the same view at the same time, but they also allow everybody to add, edit & contribute at the same time. Miro is a particular stand-out with its variety of objects, including sticky notes and comments, which can be added to adorn the underlying work product.
It’s very easy for attendees of remote meetings and workshops to get distracted by email, instant messengers, dogs barking, and neighbours mowing grass. We use a variety of techniques to minimise these losses of focus. These include the mandatory use of web cams. Seeing somebody’s face adds immensely to the quality of communication, but it also allows others to see when colleagues are not engaged (changing colours being reflected on people’s faces is a good indicator that they are switching between windows on their laptop!).
During longer remote meetings, we always have a very clear agenda which we repeatedly highlight throughout meetings and which contains clear breaks for people to a) take a rest, and b) engage in other work (such as responding to emails). And those agendas often include a small icebreaker at the beginning to make sure everybody is properly (re)acquainted with all attendees. The icebreaker might be a visual activity on a Miro board, or it might be in the form of a check-in whereby the facilitator goes around the virtual table and gives everybody a specific length of time to respond to the same question. The question can help set the tone for the meeting or workshop, it can be playful, serious, and/or connecting. Recent examples I’ve seen include “What animal represents your mood today, and why?” and “Tell us something about yourself that the other attendees might consider out of character for you“.
All of these various techniques help to improve that interaction between individuals in a virtual setting and maximize productivity.
d-wise staff who work from home regularly will usually have a dedicated space in which to work. It will feature a comfortable and safe seating arrangement, along with the ability to prevent disturbance from family members. We’re used to a regular routine, with clear lines between work and personal time, and we regularly take breaks.
If our clients are not used to working from home, they may easily picture d-wise staff perched on the corner of the kitchen table, or sat on the sofa, with young children running around or watching TV loudly, creating noise and distractions. We’re happy to briefly describe our workspace so that our clients are reassured. Our use of webcams goes a long way to providing this assurance.
That said, the prevailing coronavirus situation may have left some of our clients' team members in less fortunate circumstances, so we’re patient and understanding if we find ourselves working with someone who is much less familiar with home working than we are!
We are familiar with remote working tools, techniques, and workspaces.
In summary, we are fortunate to be able to work from home and to continue our work during these challenging times. It’s very easy for many of us to see this as business as usual when, for many of our clients, working from home is very much not business as usual. We are equipped with tools and techniques to retain security and efficiency, and we can help our clients to achieve the same efficiency when working remotely. We empathize with each individual’s situation and can (in the right circumstances) offer them suggestions on how we are working through this at d-wise.
d-wise is taking the stance of leaning into our work and sees value in all Life Science organizations doing the same during these unprecedented times. Many industries (e.g. food/beverage/entertainment) have had the option of leaning in taken away from them, which has resulted in a significant negative impact to the economy. We are fortunate enough to work in an industry/for a company that can and will push through this, as we view the economy as everyone's responsibility and want to continue to do our part to minimize the overall impact.
Stay safe and continue to engage, wherever you are!
d-wise recently ran a fully virtual workshop with a global life sciences client that garnered a higher level of engagement and input through remote sessions compared to what we've historically noted with in-person meetings.
Learn more about how we used virtual workshops to lead strategy and design for a top global pharmaceutical company to build a clinical analytics environment.