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Companies fine-tune remote work

For many businesses, shift to telecommuting requires trial and error
Mar 23,2020
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Sixty app developers of Bank Salad exchange ideas at a virtual all-hands meeting. [BANK SALAD]
After a month of trial and error, local companies are finding that discipline is the most important factor to successfully implement remote work as the aggressive spread of the coronavirus has prompted many businesses to turn to telecommuting.

Local companies, especially start-ups, are creating new rules dictating how employees should communicate, cooperate and assess performances in order to cope with remote work.

The fashion-focused social network StyleShare rolled out strict guidelines back in late February when it first issued a remote order to all of its workers, following a survey it had earlier sent to all 250 employees.

“We had people working from home before, but detailed guidelines and welfare policies are necessary to prevent any disruptions,” StyleShare CEO Yoon Ja-young said.

The online start-up’s guidelines included a list of requirements for participating in online meetings. It also offered up to 8,000 won ($6.40) to employees to help cover the cost of lunch.

Many companies are just now figuring out how to inform managers the exact start and end time of online work. In the absence of a disciplined work schedule, some employees have reported being forced to essentially work around the clock as the separation between work and home has broken down.

Companies have also been struggling to manage employee performance. Some companies expected productivity to drop as workers were left alone in a comfortable environment, but others have found that productivity can be maintained by enacting a system that uses online tools to make the transition to telecommuting more seamless.

Smart Study, a children’s content start-up in which 80 percent of its employees were working remotely, mixes communication tools depending on the situation.

Rainist, operator of asset management app Bank Salad, sent all its employees home last month, but said they have maintained their productivity.

The financial start-up uses a tool called “Pull Panda” to keep track of each developer’s performance.

The tool helped streamline the measurement of each employee’s workload, hours and results, the company said.

“The performance of our developers actually increased after the remote work order. We’ve seen the performance of our telecommuting developers increase every week,” said Cheon In-woo, analytics division head of Bank Salad.

Bank Salad said its employees follow a strict routine every workday. Employees are required to hold meetings early in the day at a fixed time though Google Hangouts, a remote meeting service offered by the internet giant. Afternoons are completely dedicated to finishing tasks.

Bank Salad emphasized that using the right tools for the right type of work is key to enhancing performance, as it helps ease communication between employees to enable a better work flow.

In the case of Bank Salad, employees communicate though Slack for urgent requests. It uses a different tool, called “Ticket,” to hand over duties. For large group meetings, employees get together through Google Hangouts.

Bank Salad also developed its own office solution that sends alerts to the person responsible for a task when it’s close to deadline.

“We have a weekly review and look back on the changes that happened after the remote order,” said Cheon. “We want to apply the lessons we learned through this outbreak so that we can continue flexible working schedules and remote work afterward.”

BY HA SUN-YOUNG [kang.jaeeun@joongang.co.kr]