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Covid-19 plan: Distributed working at Fractal

By Fractal

Original blog can be found here!

We empathise completely with the world, and small businesses throughout this difficult time.  At Fractal, we need to be at our most productive, now more than ever, to enable small businesses to overcome their cash flow issues.

Based on the heightened risk of the Covid-19 virus in London, Fractal enacted its disaster recovery plan on the 12th March 2020 and will be working remotely for the foreseeable future. We are now really building out how to make distributed working a success.

Enacting our disaster recovery plan did not come as a surprise to the team. We have been sending formal updates internally on the pandemic since the 4th March 2020 and discussed our plans for distributed working with the team before the 12th March 2020.

As long as there is trust, we believe that this new way of working can be productive.

As we settle into a new routine and structure, we’ve been iterating on our internal processes to ensure we maintain a focus on execution. We have been keeping partners and customers up-to-date on our working processes, and have been actively ensuring channels of communication are open and consistent.

We do not want to risk the health of any of our colleagues, their families, and the rest of our society.

By doing this, we expect it to be business as usual. We will continue to work hard on creating a world-class platform to better serve small businesses, especially throughout this crisis (this is our favourite link so far with a catalogue of help for SMEs from Sifted).

Plus, we will continue to give our expertise at virtual events (Nicholas Heller will be speaking at the RBI Conference on March 25th, 2 pm, alongside 11FS, HSBC and Open Banking) post blogs, and send out newsletters to our partners and subscribers.

As no one is entirely sure as to how long we will be working away from the office, we shared some best practices amongst our team so we can try and have some normality, and routine so we can all work to the best of our abilities, without losing our carefully cultivated culture.

Many tips on working away from the office are circling the internet already, some might seem like common sense, and a few are things we already do at Fractal (virtual meditation sessions, and virtual coffees/lunches with each other). We thought it might be useful to share on our blog, and if any of our readers have any more ideas or experiences they would like to share, we would love to hear it.

Communication

  • Make use of tools, but there’s no need to overdo it.
  • Communicate clearly, and more frequently – being transparent is key. Bring up blockers, and so that nothing is misconstrued, share the context in more detail than usual. Without social cues, it can be harder for some people to decipher the tone of what is being said. We wanted to stress on this point as we will all be using technology to communicate for the time being, vs what we are naturally used to doing in-person.
  • Pick up the phone. If you can get an answer quickly instead of doing it over email, then you will be much more productive and not lose your train of thought.
  • Reach out to your colleagues to discuss non-work related items – it will make time away from the office feel less lonely.

Trust

  • Managers should trust their team’s ability to work in their new environment. They may have to look after their kids, they may have pets, and they may even have flatmates who forget to knock on the door before entering. You should trust that no matter what distractions there are, your colleagues will work to the best of their abilities throughout this time of temporary transition.

Meetings

  • At Fractal, phones and laptops are banned from meetings unless you are the person presenting. Whilst everyone is working out of the office, everyone should be respectful and practice good meeting etiquette by being on time, paying attention, putting your phone away, and not working on other things.

Setting up the ‘home office’

  • Help your team set up a home office. At Fractal we are offering a stipend on a case-by-case basis. This will help our team set up a comfortable work environment at home.
  • Create a dedicated workspace in your home. This can be difficult, especially in a house share, but you can still create those boundaries. If it’s not possible to, make sure you are strict about when you decide to stop working.
  • If you have to close the door for privacy, a room with a window is a huge plus. The importance of a daily dose of natural light and fresh air should not be underestimated.
  • Get some beautiful plants online! They’re great for air quality.
  • Sit in a proper chair, and try your very best to not work from a bed or a sofa. Your back will thank you later. If it is not possible to get a proper chair, make sure to stretch out more often than usual.
  • Keep your workspace tidy, even if nobody else can see it.

Routine

  • Make your bed in the morning.
  • Wake up properly before starting work. Don’t just roll out of bed onto your dedicated working space.
  • Take your lunch break.
  • Find something new to learn, or take a little extra time for your hobbies. Whether that’s sewing, reading, or playing video games, it will give you more motivation throughout this time and give you something to look forward to.
  • Try and get fresh air every day by going into your garden, by opening the window, or going on your balcony.
  • Try to keep active – home workouts, yoga, stretches, whatever suits you best, just make sure you do it.
  • Follow the 20/20/20 rule – every 20 minutes, look at something 20 feet away for 20 seconds.
  • With more time, you can cook a little more and ensure you get a healthy lunch.
  • Make sure to drink lots of water.

Respecting each other’s space

  • Stick to your working hours. Just because you have saved an hour or two on your commute, do not overwork and drag your working hours over your normal day. Create a boundary between work and your personal life, especially if working from your bedroom. You’ll do better work if you also take time for yourself.
  • Screen time – it is so easy to wake up and look at your phone, and then continue looking at a screen until you fall asleep. Give yourself some much-needed breaks away from technology. Your eyes will thank you later.
  • Don’t get lost in the trap of being ‘seen’ online – you don’t need to immediately reply to every single message you get if you’re in the middle of something. Let your colleagues know if you need to go quiet for an hour or two to focus on a task.

Although it is difficult at present, we are looking at how the Fractal platform can immediately support financial institutions and small businesses, and in turn, the future state of the economy in the UK and beyond. If you have ideas on how we can help with this, or want to speak to us, you can contact us here.