A Great Time To Rethink How Our Teams And Culture Connect

Technical Director based in our Melbourne studio, shares insights into the work from home culture at Cognizant Softvision

Working together in our Australia  studio certainly has its incidental perks. Bumping into each other while grabbing a coffee for ad-hoc updates, and absorbing our company’s pulse, can been hugely beneficial, however, often taken for granted – until now! Like most of our global studios, our Australia studio has been encouraged to #Stayathome.

Within the current climate, most companies have too been encouraged to rethink their remote work policies – forcing them to rethink how they work and structure their teams. They are also challenged with upholding their culture and values, which has proven difficult and disruptive for many. 

At the Australia studio, our culture is led by its purpose – its “why”. It is crafted and curated by how team members treat each other, how they work together, how freely they can present ideas, how patient they are with one another, and how feedback is given (and asked for). Interacting with colleagues in a physical office environment is only one channel to foster and create a positive culture of mutual encouragement, sharing, and staying on purpose. 

These elements are independent of location though. Cognizant Softvision has been perfecting this methodology for decades encouraging collaboration near or far, and never mandating people to be at the same place at the same time in order to deliver. In certain scenarios, more traditional ways of working might not even be the optimal or best way to operate. 

Companies that are not mature in remote work are trying to simulate what they do at an office in a remote context. In some cases they are notching up on “surveillance” – everyone live streaming all day. This can promote a lack of trust. The shift here needs to be on the outcomes, with teams functioning in an asynchronous manner. When information is disseminated, people can then digest it in their own schedule, and come together as a team to agree on deliverables. 

So what needs to be different about remote working?

There are a myriad of remote team management tools and practices to help you stay connected, and deliver great work… but here are five practices that our studios, like the one I directly work out of, the Australia studio, are implementing to help with the adjustment: 

    1. Create a central source of truth for announcements and updates, and this becomes the delivery method for the whole team, whether onsite or remote. Do not deliver announcements to an internal team first and separately to a remote team. Saying the same thing in multiple places in different ways is a recipe for complexity!
    2. It is best to do brainstorming individually before coming together to pitch, share and evolve those ideas in the group. Sometimes it is best to write up a pitch, post it to a group, let it sit and marinate for a while instead of coming up with ideas on the fly from a blank slate. People then have time to think about it, and come back with their own ideas. This would make the discussion hyper-productive. Tools like Google Jamboards and Miro are great to document your ideas and collaborate at a later stage.
    3. All interactions and thought bubbles don’t need to be a meeting, instead some could be a “write up”. Face to face/video is important and necessary, but needs to be rationed out to where it matters. A “write-up” gives you a chance to consider your ideas more deeply, and improve your written expression as a by-product.
    4. There are an abundance of tools and platforms to keep your teams connected and collaborating. I’m not going to list them all here, however, you’ll gain great benefits from curating a platform stack that aligns with your team’s dynamics, and how you deliver.

      Aside from common tools such as WebEx, Slack, MS Teams, Trello and more, you can use tools like:
    • Tuple for code reviews and paired programming
    • KnowYourTeam to help develop your people and communities. 
    • Invision or Figma for deep design collaboration. 
    • Basecamp is great for getting stuff done, and I personally love Evernote for organized notes and sharing with teams.
  1. Use live chats and team pulse discussions on non-work topics to compensate for the social aspect of not being together in an office. Create initiatives and opportunities to share personal experiences, stories and anecdotes. I’m an animal lover through and through, so any team sharing around pets is a winner in my books.

Let’s hope your remote working is as fun, relaxed, productive as ours has been, and enriches your company’s culture rather than setting it off course. At Cognizant Softvision, we’ve been delivering amazing products through our digitally native remote teams for decades, so if you’re struggling, we can certainly lend a hand. 

Background Image