One day you’re grabbing your to-go latte, responding to Slack messages on your subway commute, and arriving at work to find a coworker waiting by your desk with a broken computer… and the next, you find yourself at home, sipping on plain old drip coffee while making huge decisions about remote work that will affect your entire organization – all with only a day’s notice. You might be nervous about what this means for your IT team and wondering how quickly you can adapt to the drastic change.
As your whole organization heads home to start adjusting to this new way of life, suddenly your IT support team is inundated with requests and questions about their home setup. Meanwhile, you realize you needed to draft some new remote work policies yesterday, and the operations team is wondering how they’ll handle incidents from afar if something goes wrong.
Almost everyone is reeling from the impact of a suddenly remote workforce. At Atlassian, we’ve been dealing with the same issues that other CIOs and IT teams are experiencing, and feeling the same pressure on our business-as-usual practices. Here are the most important things our team did in the first few days of this unprecedented situation that helped us adjust to this new way of working:
Set remote work policies
Depending on your industry and the size of your company, IT and executive teams may have already created and communicated some policies regarding remote work. Whether those policies already existed or not, if your entire organization started working from home all at once, it’s likely these policies needed to be spun up fresh or heavily adjusted. For Atlassian, once it was clear we would all be working from home, our IT and management teams realized they needed a device policy that would empower our newly remote workforce to do their jobs remotely. A new work-from-home expense policy was drafted, outlining which computer accessories and internet devices could be expensed in order to maintain productivity. This new policy was quickly and efficiently communicated to the organization through Confluence and Slack.
Did you know? Atlassian offers free versions of Jira Service Desk, Confluence, Jira, and Trello for small teams working remotely. Learn more at https://www.atlassian.com/remote
With the entire Atlassian workforce at home, the IT team has seen a big uptick in Slack and service desk requests. Given this high volume of requests and the need to stay more organized than ever, Atlassian’s IT and other internal teams have relied on smart approaches to collaboration and communication. For instance, when someone has a facilities question about picking up a monitor from the office to bring home, or if they need clarity on a new remote policy, the employee must file a ticket in Jira Service Desk.
No matter the policies or tools, as long as productivity and open communication are top of mind for IT, your organization will succeed in the transition to remote work.
Conduct remote onboarding and training
In addition to devising and enforcing new remote policies, IT may also be responsible for onboarding new employees or even training current employees on best practices for remote work. Onboarding new hires is especially challenging, logistically and culturally – the first interaction they have with your company once they’ve become an official employee is with IT. The impact of that interaction can be huge, which is why it’s so essential for IT to get it right.
With almost no notice, Atlassian’s IT team shipped laptops and conducted remote onboarding for all new hires across the company via Zoom. For existing employees, they documented some common remote tactics on how to set up your home workspace, including how to test your internet speed, getting set up on the VPN, and best practices for Zoom. We even created a #remote channel in Slack about how to cope with remote work, plus some tips and tricks to boost productivity.
Our bottom line: communicate early and often, and use tools that empower collaboration, to ultimately maintain productivity across your organization.
Monitor apps and systems reliability
When entire organizations go remote, they’ll be using systems that IT manages in new ways. With enough time and proper planning, IT would be proactive in ensuring systems are reliable enough to handle the spike, and it’s not surprising that the first thing our IT team worried about was keeping Atlassian’s internal collaboration tools up and running. While we already had a small remote workforce, we had never stress-tested the system at this scale. In this situation, our IT team had mere days to get a plan in place for incident management and communication, should internal systems fail.
Without missing a beat, Atlassian’s IT and Operations teams increased internal communication with daily stand-ups and frequent check-ins via Slack. They also shared a Confluence page with the whole organization as the one source of truth to facilitate open communication.
We’ve said it before, but we’ll say it again. Maintaining productivity, even through incidents, is all about open communication and collaboration. Using tools and practices that enable one source of truth, documentation, and remote collaboration across teams during an incident is what will keep the lights on while your company is working from home.
We’re in this together
IT often serves as the backbone of an organization. These essential teams are enabling those lucky enough to be able to work from home to be productive, all while keeping the lights on under truly remarkable circumstances. Whether your role on IT means fulfilling employee requests, monitoring high-priority services, or pushing changes that affect millions of customers, you’re used to being adaptable and making decisions that impact a lot of people. But IT is being tested now more than ever to make incredibly fast decisions without a lot of information. As we continue to navigate these uncertain times, we should look to each other for lessons learned and understand that we’re all in this together.
We’ll keep sharing our challenges and triumphs in IT as we continue to get our bearings on a 100-percent remote workforce, so check back soon!
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