What remote working taught web developers about networking

10 mins
03/03/2021

As a tech company specialising in web development we were one of the first generations where working remotely was not just completely accepted but was in some cases strongly encouraged. Ecommerce and PIM systems are in their nature platforms that should be accessed and used remotely. 

We have gone through the learning curve of knowing what can be done well remotely and what may be needed to be done in person. But the learning never stops as the idea of 'remote' is a moving target because we keep getting better at doing it. It's second nature to work remotely with our amazing team who can synchronise their efforts with the minimum amount of prompting and this culture has helped us enormously when it comes to networking with our business community.

The growing popularity of video calls like Skype and Zoom have been a big part of this. The ability of conducting productive conversations on these channels is something we are all getting better at and even the most uninitiated of us are able to jump on a face to face call at a moment's notice to get things done.

What we have noticed in recent times is that we are not just getting better at these calls but we are enjoying them more as a result. At Hamari Agency we are having more group calls and have started inviting people from outside our company to join us and we have found that our learning about the industries we serve has accelerated faster than ever before and this has left us wanting to do more.

With our online roundtables we have developed a platform for our network to innovate. We've found that what can be achieved on our group video calls would take much longer in emails and phone calls. Bringing together groups to build on their ideas that can be then actioned offline has been rewarding for everyone involved so we are planning more podcasts, webinars and roundtables in the future. Please let us know if you'd like to participate and speak at one of our online events.

As restrictions have started to lift we are looking forward to going back to real life networking events in a big way. I don't think we are alone in thinking this. The novelty of going back into the world to meet our fellow humans in person will be a great feeling and we also think it will be immensely productive. Understanding use cases of product data management and digital commerce can be done better in person but we now know that we have learnt how to communicate on this level on video calls which at the end of the day are far more convenient.

It's often the case that what's harder to do also gets the best results. It's very easy to send an email when a call would have been better. Or to do a quick phone call when a Zoom meeting would have enabled a better connection needed to move things forwards more effectively. Reading blogs and articles about Zoom fatigue at work is something we are far from experiencing ourselves. Internally messaging on Slack, WhatsApp, Trello and email is the way we get things done while calls with our business network are well planned in advanced so time is never wasted and tangible results encourage us to arrange more.

The synchronicity needed to use quick, brief, messages effectively takes time to build up. Our team members know each other's personalities and ways of speaking. When working on complex projects things can change quickly but there are times when breaking the flow and concentration of one of our lead developers with a notification is not the best plan of action. The timing and chosen communication channel is something we all understand intrinsically at Hamari, and it just works.

Building a piece of cutting edge digital tech lends itself to firing quick messages back and forth. Messaging is built for things like reviewing code and sending links to test functionality but what about when we need to push forward with big picture decisions externally? High level thinking on issues like B2B ecommerce business models requires a more abstract approach that lends itself more to conversation. We are building all the time so finding the time to have these conversations can be difficult but very rewarding.

As you might have noticed by some of our content we like to have deep dives into industries like manufacturing and construction to mention a few. By constantly researching our customer's industry business models we become part of the conversation. When researching internally this is where messaging is left behind and the phone is picked up. This process has taken another step forward. We are now inviting industry leaders to take part in these calls and doing them on Zoom to share insights into our industries. For example we have found that some of the best examples of product data standardisation can be found in retail which is invaluable insight for those in construction.

Having our contact with each other reduced over the last few months has made us better at communication both internally and with our business community. It has also made us appreciate more the importance of reaching out. Making time to do this has become part of our routine as we plan to take part in and organise meetups online and hopefully in June physical venues in the Manchester area. If you would like to collaborate with us on a tech event let us know. We are looking for speakers, platforms and venues to share their views and to help and learn from others.

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