Team collaboration and home office doesn’t have to be a contradiction; our remote ‘netiquette’

Many people have been working from home for several weeks now. Enough time to have had both good and bad experiences with the new remote situation. In order to continue to master the challenge of home office in the best possible way, we have collected a few ideas and tips that will make it easier for us to work together: our ‘Remote Netiquette’.

As part of the current easing of restrictions, some companies are already starting to bring their employees back to the company headquarters. In many cases people living in places where “you couldn’t swing a cat” are also exempted from home office. Nevertheless, given the current situation, complete presence work by all staff in the office/company premises is likely to be the exception for some time to come. A general return will continue to be hindered by safety measures such as distancing regulations, which prevent all employees from being permitted to be on site in the offices at the same time. In addition, the realization is already gaining acceptance in many minds that efficient cooperation with colleagues and in teams is also possible remotely. Politicians are even considering a legal right to a home office.

Experience shows that crises usually go hand-in-hand with long-term innovations and changes. Therefore, it is quite possible that in the future some of the work will shift from the office to your own study. Meetings, lectures or even workshops will increasingly be conducted online. For many, this reduces the stress of commuting every day and could also save time, money and CO2 emissions, with one or the other business trip fewer.

At XITASO, we develop quality software in agile teams. This requires close cooperation and a rapid flow of information. The basis for this is a room concept in which teams sit together and thus also get to know a lot about each other due to the short distances. Therefore, the broad and consistent switch to home office was also a challenge for us.

We would like to introduce you below to the experiences we have gained, for better or for worse, and what we can recommend to all like-minded people.

Escalation concept for questions or information to colleagues

The change to the home office is often justified by people being able to work there in a more concentrated fashion. This may still work when a minority work from home, but it becomes a challenge when the entire team or much of it is in home office. Constant calls, notifications of incoming emails and chat messages sabotage focus. At the same time, a successful team thrives on being able to exchange information quickly and to request help with problems. However, these contradictory requirements can be well combined in practice by using an escalation concept as a solution. The principle is “disturb only when it is urgent” and must be defined individually by each team depending on deadline pressure, personal needs and technical requirements. It requires everyone to think things out and assess their own problem on the basis of a common agreement. As soon as you follow a few simple rules, the balance between communication and calm works very well.