Brad’s top 5 tips for startups moving to work remotely during COVID-19

Brad Lorge, CEO

With so many big corporates moving staff to work from home, we wondered what are start-ups doing?  Given supply chains are so topical right now, we asked Brad Lorge, one of our good friends of Ribit, and CEO of fast-growing logistics company, how he has responded during this unforeseen pandemic. The 27 year-old is also a former Australian Innovator-of-the-Year award winner. The Sydney software startup helps large carriers and retailers manage their fleet and stock real-time. The team of 15 people are normally based at the Wotso co-working space in Pyrmont.

Like all good employers, Brad’s always thinking about what’s best for his team and this week he moved everyone to work-from-home mode for safety. Moving a startup team to remote mode presents different challenges to larger companies with established procedures and know-how, so it’s useful to learn from others like Brad who have managed this successfully.

Here’s what Brad has implemented and his five top tips to make transitioning your employers to work remotely as smooth as possible:

1. Test the brass tacks

Work out the technology connections, security and ergonomics first. Does everyone have a safe and comfortable space from which to work? Does everyone have a laptop with the right software? Do they have suitable desks and chairs? Can every team member access the right video/comms tech and can you test it before you make the move? How will remote communications affect your customers or stakeholders and do any adjustments need to be made as a result?

2. Together time

Nominate a ‘stand-up’ or catch-up via video chat or phone session for the whole team once or twice a day where everyone can quickly go through what they are working on and raise any blockers. The rest of the time people can communicate through other online channels like #slack. Make sure that there is more, rather than less communication than when everyone’s together in the flesh, as things can be more easily misunderstood when people are on their own and maybe feeling out of the loop. Keep the one-on-ones going with every member of the team.

3. Be mindful of staff mental health and well-being

Consider engaging a ‘wellness’ coach or someone that can check in regularly with the team (and follow up with individuals if needed ), say, once a week to see how they are going and discuss any big and small concerns (like feeling isolated or distracted, etc). By doing this you can encourage a sense of trust and security through the team feeling valued and supported.

4. Keep up the fun and frivolity

By continuing the same routines that you used to have work. For example, Brad and team would regularly go out for lunch on a Friday. Instead, they will use UBER credits to order takeaway lunches on a Friday and the team will eat together via video and enjoy that same time for casual interaction.  This may spill over to even having video coffee breaks.

5. On-going communication

Most important – make sure that everyone on the team is consulted every step of the way. People tend to react with anxiety if they feel things are out of their control or they don’t know what is being planned for them. There are many things that teams do that managers may not be across in detail, so make sure that every staff member gets a chance to have a say. Be transparent about what is happening and why.  Share the good and the bad. As a manager, make sure you’re accessible to everyone.