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How to Approach Remote Work with Incident Response Best Practices

Emily Arnott

In response to recent events, many organizations are moving to remote work. Transitioning comes with challenges, but the right practices can make it less painful. You might find it preferable to going in everyday (especially with the commute).

Incidents are unplanned investments. Teams can consider this transition an unplanned investment of its own. By responding to this “incident”, your team will be better equipped to thrive in other challenging situations. In this blog post, we'll go over some incident response best practices that can help.

Get ahead of complications with dry runs. Before meetings, make sure that you’re equipped. Test your camera, microphone, and internet speed for sending and receiving video. Plan a space to take calls in with good lighting and a neutral background. The more things you can figure out ahead of time, the more you can focus on the work that matters.

Have “runbooks” with plenty of plan Bs. Failure is inevitable. Expect that things will go wrong, and plan as a team for what to try next. If one video service crashes, what’s the backup? If there’s a miscommunication and someone doesn’t join the call, what’s the protocol? Work will proceed through these blips if everyone starts on the same page. Once your team agrees on plans, ensure people are aware of it by sending out a followup email.

Communicate more than usual. Remote work demands excellent communication. As you would during an incident, set up roles responsible for communication. Impromptu meetings now need to be scheduled to stop things from falling through gaps. Be sure to solidify decisions made in emails to create an organized and permanent record.

Plan to learn. Having issues transitioning? Write your own incident retrospectives for problems that arise. Your team can work together to analyze how you can improve procedures going forward. This is a new experience for many people. It takes time to work out all the kinks.

Be blameless. You will run into challenges when transitioning to remote work. When others are only a Slack display picture instead of a human being, you may be more tempted to blame when something goes wrong. Keep in mind that your coworkers have the best intentions. Failures result only from systemic issues that you’ll work together to change. Make time for friendly chats to keep the human in mind when things go wrong.

Remote work is a challenge, but an important one to overcome. People's safety outweighs temporary struggles. By thinking of it as an “unplanned investment” and applying incident response practices, teams can thrive and grow.

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