Getting Collaborative Working Right

Lockdowns are an interesting time for businesses; much has been written on the subject, and we probably have little to add to that oeuvre - beyond just being amazed at the adaptability of humans! What we can contribute is our story of how as a small team we’ve been able to develop a set of processes and leverage technology to not just survive this latest lockdown (day 48 and counting), but flourish as a team.

So, on the 17th of August 2021, we once again prepared for hunkering down at home. Stocking up on toilet paper, tinned foods, and long-life milk, getting our workspaces ready and listening to Aunty Cindy address the Nation with the familiar ring of “it takes the team of 5 million”.

As we settled in to take on the Delta variant, Jacinda’s sentiment rang true for the team at D3. We could either disappear off into lonely melancholy or embrace the togetherness of the online world. We needed to use the internet and its many forms of messaging to our advantage. Now, more than ever, collaboration was key.

Although the team is scattered around Auckland, we have sought to establish a rhythm in which each team member is aware, informed, and supported. In doing so, we have been able to maintain our high standard efficiently. So, what does this rhythm look like?

Have consistent check-ins

Each morning and each evening we meet as a team. We have bit of a chat, swap stories (as well as Dad jokes), and talk through what people are up to, and what the day ahead looks like. This gives everyone a chance to ask for assistance or tell people that they have some spare capacity.

Use a central project management tool across the business

We use which is brilliant. This allows us to see what everyone else is up to, share briefs, and assign tasks to other teams. We also use Bionic for all media planning which makes collaborating on schedules a breeze. Microsoft’s updates to Word, PowerPoint and Excel have also made collaboration much easier.

Have empathy for people’s mental health (and allow time off if needed)

Sitting at a desk in your spare room is no fun for anyone! And we know that the mental impacts of lockdowns are not exactly positive. With this in mind we’ve been giving people more time off to re-calibrate, and to take mental health days. Next week for example we're closing down at 12 to allow everyone an extended weekend.

Use video/audio calling

Talking things through is usually easier than massive email chains, and makes physical distance less of an issue. Teams is our drug of choice, and works well, integrating with and Office. But we have noticed that cameras have been switched off more as lockdown continues…

Support each other- divide and conquer!

One of the most difficult aspects of lockdown is not being able to physically see your team members working next to you and losing the opportunity to pick up on some of those early warning signs that someone may need help. To combat this, we regularly check-in with our team members - how are they? Do they need help? How is their workload? Divide and conquer with a systematic lens for each task and prioritize as needed.

As a testament to getting collaborative working right in lockdown, several D3 team members have written this article. Versheena Bhana, Natalie Clement, Jessica Harvey, Vicky Fletcher, and Alex Radford.

We hope you’ve enjoyed reading it.