Hello, my name is Telmo. I’m one of the co-founders of Miew Creative Studio, and I also work as a lead manager and as a creative director. A lot of things have been said and written about remote work, and I felt that it was time to write about Miew’s experience and how a people-centric business can help you turn obstacles into opportunities.
In light of the pandemic situation in March, we knew that sooner or later, we had to make the decision of leaving the office and embrace the challenge of remote work. But the most important question wasn’t when are we going to make this change. It was how are we going to make it.
Miew was born because we wanted to choose our path freely. We wanted to transform and inspire people’s world and business. And for that, we needed a unique mindset to give purpose to everything we did. We needed to cultivate a critical thinking mindset. We wanted to build trust and confidence between talented people in technology and creativity. Collaboration and ownership — that was our vision.
Leaving the nest. 🐣
We’ve always imagined a very cool open space office, where we could mix work and leisure, and where everyone felt safe. Like a fortress. A place where we could create meaningful experiences and solve business problems for the best brands.
Luckily, we are based in one of the most important European Tech Centers — UPTEC — where we can breathe innovation and entrepreneurship everywhere, every day. How cool is that?
We love our office, our team lunches, our coffee breaks, our brainstorming meetings, and our client meetings. We love our team discussions, our whiteboard, and our balcony. We love being together because in the office everything is real and in real-time. We can walk to the other side of the room just to share some ideas or ask something. We laugh together and we feel connected. It looks perfect.
Jason Fried and David Heinemeier Hansson said in their book “Remote” that offices are “interruption factories” and I understand that. It’s a fact. They are. It’s a “reacting to things mode”. But love is blind, isn’t it?
Support our team’s well-being and emerge stronger.
So, on March 16th, we went from a “remote-friendly” vision to a “remote only” reality. The truth is I had already thought about starting to work remotely…
But just like Stephen R. Covey wrote one day: “there’s only one thing in business that is for certain — uncertainty”.
To be honest, the challenge was bigger than we thought. Why? Well, there’s another thing about these workplaces — they control and dominate behavior routines, which means that with this crisis, we would have to change as fast as we could. But it’s all about perspective. Changing our habits could be an opportunity to embrace evolution and to adapt and re-think our actions and business practices.
One of the most powerful things we have always done with our team was to build trust, resilience, and transparency, no matter what.
So, when something brought disorder to everyone’s lives, we continue, as always, to put our team first. After all, it’s not about workplaces or methodologies. It’s about people.
I remember Bruno Nogueira saying that “the unknown for adults is like fear of the dark for children” and for us, that moment was just like that. It was the unknown about the future of our personal and professional lives.
Adapting to a new WFH reality.
So, the next step was to think about how we could make the best use of our work tools and review existing processes and ways of communication that could bring our remote team closer and, subsequently, leverage our productivity. For this to happen, there was one thing that was crucial to make our performance thrive: engaged employees.
Here are some of the collaborative tools we used to help in this abrupt transition from office to home:
1.Video coffee chats ☕
So, we started by having daily morning meetings to maintain strong relationships with all remote workers. The idea was not to talk about work but to bring everyone together to say “good morning”, “f*** this”, and to talk about everything that was on our minds. It was that moment where we could renew our trust in ourselves. On the other hand, the partners also started having daily meetings to align all the business needs.
(Note: Of course, in the first week, we only talked about how Covid-19 was affecting our lives.)
2. Team chat apps 🤼♀️
We already used Slack, but we started using it a lot more in remote work. This was the perfect app to chat with our team asynchronously instead of needing to set up a time for a call every time we had a question. So, we ended up creating channels for all our projects in order to improve team communication.
Even a fun morning ritual was created that consists of saying good morning with an emoji before every morning meeting. We only have one rule: This emoji has to be completely random.
3. Project management software 💻
During this adaptation phase, we felt the need now, more than ever, to keep every member of the team organized as well as the company as a whole. That’s why we continue using a project management tool, ClickUp, to keep everyone aligned within each project and to have an overview of each one’s tasks.
4. Online workshops 📚
Before remote work, we already held monthly workshops for the whole team. In a nutshell, we used to set up a 30-minute workshop to share skills and expertise.
Furthermore, at the end of each workshop, we had to create key points of our presentations so we could share it with our audience on our social media channels.
We started these workshops because they were crucial for inter-department insight and collaboration. Thankfully, we easily translate it into the virtual space to continue strengthening the message and our team.
5. Informal work chats 🤸
Besides Slack, we have a group in our Whatsapp that we use to talk about the most random things you could ever imagine. Here we share our animal’s photos, funny videos (most of them are from TikTok), articles, songs, and of course, memes, lots of memes.
Beyond all this, we also decided to add some excitement to this new reality by making weekly Instagram takeovers where each one of us showed how it looks like when you are working from home. Of course, our pets ended up being the true stars of these takeovers.
We also launched every Friday an Instagram post with our weekend tips, where each team member suggested a movie, a TV show, a book, a podcast, a YouTube channel, and a playlist.
Great things happen to teams that stick together.
We needed to reinforce our mission, our strategic plan for long-term survival. Thankfully, that clarity brought significance to our work. It was time to design new things, to find new solutions, to be problem solvers, and to support our clients positively.
One of the best examples was what happened to one of our clients: BMcar. When all their competitors stopped selling cars during Covid-19, they launched a digital platform we had developed, and it was a huge success. There was nothing that could have made us happier. It’s almost like Simon Sinek says — “serve those who serve others, and you will live a life of joy and fulfillment.”
In the past few months, we experienced conflict between work and family life, and we learned how to deal with that. We learned to manage our time, to have more freedom, more life quality, and in the end, we improved everyone’s ownership.
We started bringing our family and pets to our meetings, which were much more informal than ever before. And eventually, we got used to online meetings. We started realizing that we used to waste time in face to face meetings and that now we had even more respect over people’s time.
From the beginning, our team had been 100% committed. Because then, more than ever, we needed each other. We needed each other for support, and to feel less alone during a time that could honestly feel quite scary.
And once again, like Simon Sinek said, “the best highest performance teams are the ones who give to each other selflessly.” I felt that among our team — thank you Miews!
The reflection after the storm. 💭
So, now, it’s time to reflect on how we can do better. It’s time to think about the best of both worlds and bring them together in one. What is easier to do in our office? What are the advantages of remote work? And, above all, what has changed in us during this pandemic? Now, after three months, it’s time to reflect on the things that made us stronger.
At this point, we knew we had to rethink our strategy. So, we decided to keep working from home. However, we want everyone to feel supported and comfortable. That’s why whoever prefers to return to the office, it is free to do so (within the limits, of course!).
For now, our focal point is to improve the conditions of those who are working at home, because in the long run, the whole point of remote work is to provide our team members the possibility to work from anywhere. It could be their home, but it may as well be at a friend’s house, a hotel, or a café. We want to allow them to work where they want it to.
In short, “Work From Anywhere” perfectly encapsulates the freedom and dynamism we want to provide our team.
All in all, remote work represented for us different challenges and different approaches that made us learn and evolve as individuals and as a team. Because like Nelson Mandela said: “In life, you only have two choices or you win, or you learn.”
And there is nothing better than learning while you win.