Like almost everyone else from the TÜV Rheinland Team Innovation & Digitization in the home office, we are also facing the “remote team challenge”. Now you might think that this must be obvious for us and that we work a lot virtually or remotely, but actually a lot of our work is very much geared towards presence. Especially in our workshops and trainings we strongly proclaim “real” physical cooperation.

How do we work?

Nevertheless, since we want to support all colleagues worldwide as a service function, we have already given some thought to overarching cooperation and have also tried out some initial things. Nevertheless, as a core team we have so far mostly been together in one place and have been able to work very closely and intensively together. So the situation of being spread out in different places for a long time is something new.

Our aim is to work together very transparently, especially internally, to document things well, to use agile working methods and to have information available. That’s why we had already set up some things in the time before virtual teamwork. For example, we use the notebook program OneNote very intensively to exchange ideas, share protocols and to-dos, we share appointments via Outlook and much more. In addition, we have been maintaining rituals such as check-ins, daily stand-up meetings, weekly team meetings and monthly co-working days for quite some time.

Since the exchange platforms work for our purposes – of course you can always find something better – we continue to use them. Additionally we try to forward more information directly to the team or send daily update mails to the colleagues to keep us up to date in the best possible way. So far, so good and so – probably – normal.

Helpful team rituals

After a little more than a week, however, we notice some very special positive effects, which really do us good as a team and as individuals during this time. Because we have extended our daily morning meeting a little bit and start with a relatively extensive check-in. We talk about how we are doing right now, what we have experienced, how we perceive the situation etc. Personally, I feel that this exchange is very valuable, because you realize that everyone is in a similar situation, you can strengthen each other, encourage each other, and possibly also give tips on how to deal with the situation.

Right after this check-in ritual we go into the contents: Who has what on the agenda for today? Who can use or offer support where? Who has possibly changed working hours, e.g. due to childcare? This exchange also helps to gain understanding for the others, to create clarity and to learn from each other.

On some days we also manage to do a check-out in the afternoon, where we discuss the events of the day. Our team meeting, which in the past was intended to discuss or work on somewhat larger topics together, will be retained as such – this has also worked well so far.

We conduct all meetings with video, if the bandwidth allows it, because this is a very good way to see what environment the others are in and to create a better understanding and a greater feeling of closeness. This form of cooperation helps us a lot to stay in a good mood and optimistic. It helps to keep the ceiling from falling on our heads and – I think – it welds us even more together as a team. Nevertheless, we are very much looking forward to seeing each other again personally.

Ideas for everyday work according to Corona

Besides all the team rituals, I have thought of some personal things that help me to get through the days and weeks in the home office well and mindful. This includes writing a kind of diary. I start this every morning before I start work with a personal check-in. Throughout the day I write down points that I find important, questions that go through my mind, insights that I have gained etc. At the end of the day, I then do a personal checkout in which I reflect on my personal state of health. I think about what I would like to do better or differently the next day, what I would like to try out again if necessary and, in particular, what things I would like to bring with me to Corona for my everyday work. In the process, a number of things have already come together that I had not thought of before.

In addition, I’m currently working intensively on the “Getting Things Done” productivity approach, from which I’m immediately incorporating the first elements into my everyday life. As soon as I’ve finished reading here, I’m going to integrate this approach even more – if it still seems useful and helpful to me.

My conclusion so far: The way we implement it as a team and I design it for myself, I get along very well with this way of working and learn a lot. But I am already looking forward to the time when you can be back in the office. I am also glad that we have all these opportunities through our employer and that we can try out new things as a team.

Author

Stefan Ritter

Stefan Ritter

Innovation Facilitator

Stefan Ritter has been working as an innovation facilitator in the area of innovation and digitization since September 2018. He is a Design Thinking Coach, in this role he supports project teams and trains colleagues. In addition, he is an expert for new, agile, self-leading forms of work and organization. With his knowledge and experience from different environments he supports cultural change, the implementation of new working approaches in projects and programmes. He is also heavily involved with digital tools – always keeping the impact and work behind the tool in mind. In addition to these activities – which for him are more of a vocation than a profession – he likes to be creative in his own kitchen or on the balcony, or he enjoys walking or running with his dog.

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