New York – March the 2nd , 2022 – Carmina Cañadilla, Sergio Matarredona
Remote work has become the standard in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic. It may scare companies at first, but if executed properly, you can get the same potential out of it. We will give you a series of tips and tools that we use ourselves.
Efficient internal and remote communication is possible
Any member of a company is aware of how important communication is within the teams. We have already published a post about all the advantages that communication brings. And, although it seems a challenge, it can be straightforward if you have the right tools.
Developing an investment management system, as Athena does, involves working constantly and all over the world to make clients’ financial operations run successfully. Therefore, the OMS/PMS industry requires teams distributed throughout different regions and perfectly coordinated to ensure client satisfaction.
At Athena we use Slack to communicate internally. This tool emulates a virtual office in which you can act as forums adapted to departments, clients, or projects. The communication is easy, it allows setting up calls: both in group and individually. And files transfer feature doubles up as a storage device as any file can be found by typing the filename into the search bar.
Slack is versatile and adapts to any type of business. Nevertheless, valuable information can get lost among many messages if there are several active channels simultaneously. We encourage the team members that after an important chat, a summary is sent to the team by email and saved in a place where everybody has access to it, in case the notes need to be reviewed or missing attendees want to have an idea of the progress of the projects. We believe in transparency amongst the team and encourage visibility, so no one misses important information. Therefore, we suggest storing any important files both in the cloud and offline and have regular backups.
Our team remains organized through periodical calls
In Athena, our internal communication is not just about Slack. We also conduct calls between the different departments and regions to provide updates and check on the progress. For us, it is important to use the camera in these meetings to bring the team together and focus on the topic. We put a lot of effort into having efficient calls. The agenda of the meeting is shared in advance, and a goal is drafted in a couple of simple sentences to keep the focus on the matter of discussion. We recommend calls not to exceed longer than 40 minutes.
As a company it is important to have an agreement on the amount and type of calls, we must keep “business as usual” and ongoing projects running in parallel. We find Stand-Up calls particularly useful. These are fifteen-minute meetings in which only members from the same region -America, Europe, and Asia- participate. Each region must carry them out, and everybody should answer the following questions focusing on the goal as a team:
- What was done yesterday to accomplish the sprint goal?
- What will you focus on today to accomplish the sprint goal?
- What is blocking your progress?
Once a week, a call is scheduled to plan the next sprint around important projects. All the information is in our ticketing system: YouTrack, which helps us monitor the project status of the tasks using boards. The main goal is that everyone knows what to do and when. It is also important to work on a “definition of done” as a team, to make sure that every member shares the same understanding when the issues are completed.
We believe gathering feedback from coworkers, working on ideas together, improving and learning every day, is the real path to achieve better performance as a team. Managers in Athena perform one on one bi-monthly meetings, where we create interactions and get feedback from the team members. The outcome is professional development, enhancement of the working agreements and build a safe space to raise issues and make action plans to correct them. In Athena, we also have a call once a month to do some exercises on team building to maintain unity between the teams working in different time zones. It is important getting to know each other, put some faces to the names we see in our email daily and have a virtual coffee to help building the trust and improve the communication.
Organizations and activity reports are always helpful
As a team, we value these agreements, and our framework is revisited often and periodically adjusted with feedback from clients, third parties and internal departments. With them, it is easier to have an idea of the different steps of a process even when working from home. Nevertheless, it is extremely important to keep updating them as the circumstances change to constantly enhance them, because in Athena we base all our frameworks in delivering value.
In addition, weekly reports through platforms, like the previously mentioned Youtrack, and Clockify, will help the company to get metrics. We understand the importance of the metrics -SLA, performance metric- and how they can be used to help us to improve our processes.
Moreover, the main idea of how we organize ourselves is by setting up objectives. We establish the objective, and we often review the progress towards it. Therefore, transparency among the teams involved is a must to reach the common goal. Metrics and feedback are the tools we use to measure that progress and, by doing so, we can adapt all the processes to the here and now of each scenario.
Learn about the advantages of a VPN
Some time ago we published information on what VPNs are and the great possibilities they offer to your team, so we will not dwell on this point. However, we will say that they are an excellent tool for providing employees with secure and remote access to any file or database in your company.
About Athena Systems
Athena Systems is the provider of Athena Spark, the leading solution for investment decision support and automation. Athena provides managers and prime brokers with complete front office and back office functionality to ensure their trading and portfolio management operations are handled as efficiently as possible. Used by 50+ firms globally, Athena uses state-of-the-art technology to provide Portfolio Analytics, Risk, P&L, Compliance, Order Management & Accounting while providing security, control and integration beyond compare. Athena has offices in New York, Boston, Madrid, Austin, Texas, Mexico City, Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam and Málaga, Spain