Tools for the new normal

Ian Duncan • 12th Apr 2020

How we’re doing ‘face to face’

Our video-conferencing weapon of choice is Zoom. The screen sharing feature is a great way to mimic creative discussions otherwise had round a computer monitor in the office.

Some habits die hard though – with Zoom I still occasionally point at the screen, talk for a while, then wonder why no-one knows what I’m talking about.

It’s been fun seeing the spaces team members are working in too! Not to mention a cast of new characters – some of the fluffier new recruits are already more famous than their owners.

How we’re doing quick messages and overheard conversations

For quick messages and conversations we’re using Slack.

Unsurprisingly, those snippets of conversations usually overheard in the office are no longer a feature of the day.

Arguably that’s a benefit, but there’s an osmosis of useful information that you miss out on when working remotely – and that’s an ongoing challenge.

One (imperfect) tool to alleviate this is channels within Slack, which let you broadcast to groups of people. However, be careful – as we quickly learned this can lead to notification hell. Thankfully there are various ways to customise Slack so it doesn’t murder your productivity.

How we can tell what work is being done

Through the great work created by the team, the same way we always have.

Among other briefs we’ve recently:

Created launch collateral for Vidatec’s new Engage4 workplace wellbeing platform – a staff engagement and wellbeing app. If you manage a team you should check it out.
Designed and built a new website for Cipher, who provide strategic patent intelligence using state-of-the-art AI. Stay tuned, the site launches next week.
Created campaign concepts for Code Clan, the award-winning digital skills academy. If you’ve been furloughed, now is the time to learn that new skill.
Presented a 100% remote campaign pitch via video call to a global food brand. 

What about work in progress?

Work in progress and transparency is more important than ever, and our pre-lockdown tools work just as well in the new normal.

For keeping the creative studio ticking over, we have our  Synergist calendar, reviewed as a team twice a day.

And for task management, each client has a dedicated Trello board keeping them up to date.

How does the team know what’s going on in the company

That’s a good question. The general answer is lots of communication.

We have twice-daily traffic meetings for the creative and client services teams and an all-staff weekly huddle on a Monday.

The huddle acts like a company news update, and the headlines (huddlines) are posted to Slack for anyone that missed them.

What happens to the non-work chat from the office

Remote working makes it hard to have those chance conversations. We’re social creatures, and talking to each other is important for our mental wellbeing.

We’ve embraced the weekly remote pub quiz and rotate who does the rounds so everyone gets a go.

Round three last week was virus emojis – how many can you get?

Lane pub quiz

(Almost) needless to say, Friday’s have seen the obligatory remote drinks.

And for something a bit different, there’s a Slack channel for #laneworldtour, new biz director Paul’s brainchild to keep us all fit.

He describes it as “a challenge for us all to log every mile we travel on foot, bike or horseback while we’re apart to see how far we can get together.”

Apparently we’ve made it to France!

What does the future hold?

The laners will return to the office – that’s for certain. Less clear is how our adapted approach under lockdown will shape how we work in the future. Could some of our new working practices become permanent fixtures?

For now, it’s business as usual in the new normal.

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