Movie Nights & Staying Connected While Remote


Changes to team dynamics are natural when working remotely, and can be positive (we won’t be rushing back to the office). There are risks though; how do you make sure everyone is pulling towards the same goal? The answer is to trust your team and avoid remote monitoring tools at all costs!

The lockdown affects software companies less than most, but we’re still aware that our way of working and socialising has changed significantly. Instead of a going for a meal or a drink, these days we try to keep things relaxed by having a movie night once a week using the excellent Netflix Party app. The only issue is choosing what to watch.

We’ve also taken steps to make sure it’s easy for our team to stay connected during work hours. A few ideas:

  • Move daily sync meetings out by 15 minutes, and leave a space for an optional coffee/tea chat. No agenda, no attempt at organising a discussion—just time to talk.
  • Give the team access to lightweight video communication channels (we love Jitsi) so that they can talk face-to-face without planning a meeting.
  • Prefer webcams in small groups (< 8). This isn’t to make sure people are paying attention, and is entirely optional. Keeping it face-to-face helps to avoid miscommunication by preserving non-verbal cues.
  • Avoid organising extra meetings to try to keep people in sync, it’s just more opportunities to annoy people. Instead, try asynchronous methods of communication. Write down ideas in long form, then offer them up for contribution.

In general, don’t ask people to attend events outside of work. It’s no harm for people to organise events themselves, but formal out-of-work events tend to:

  • put pressure on people with kids, or other commitments, who find it harder to attend
  • exclude someone. Beer and movies is only good if you like beer and enjoy the same sort of movies