How to organize remote offices and not lose a team in space

    Remember, we told that our teams of the center for monitoring and response to cyber attacks are sitting in different cities, explaining the reasons for such a decision and painted pros? All this is true - territorial distribution undoubtedly has serious advantages, but why, then, do so few companies decide to create remote offices? Or do they put a lone wolf from sales on the region and tear three skins from him, because his work has been removed and is not visible from the Center from time to time? This is because the devil is known to be in the details. For the management of the company, the removal of offices from “non-rubber” is an economic plus, but how can we ensure that teams do not fall apart, remain active and effective?

    Not clear millenialy

    For us, creating a well-coordinated and, in principle, constantly evolving team of engineers and analysts is the number one task. In the article “ How to assemble a team in the conditions of personnel shortage, ” we already told how we found ourselves in a situation in which there were practically no ready-made specialists on the market, and the number of customers was growing rapidly. As a result, we realized that the only solution to the problem was to work with students.

    However, it is not enough just to recruit smart people in the region, it is not enough to come to the university, make friends with the departments and organize internships for students. After the company performs all these formal tasks, the most difficult and interesting begins - the young team must be kept, not let it run, lose interest and grip, become moldy. Students - people shebutnoy. If you do not give them food for the brain, they quickly burn out and begin to look for where else to realize themselves. And in conditions of remote work, this happens even faster.

    When we “opened the tap” four years ago and the students went to Solar JSOC for training, we faced the challenge of motivating the millennials. I do not know why everyone is so afraid of the features of this generation - in my opinion, everything is quite simple. Give the children new challenges and the opportunity to gain new knowledge, let them be in the thick of things, give them the choice and opportunity to develop, both professional and personal, and you will get a decent, interested employee.

    But we must understand that this will not happen by itself, this is a task that requires purposeful work. We have been working on this for several years, and as a result, our experience allowed us to crystallize several basic principles on which the successful work of the geo-distributed team is built.

    E pluribus unum

    When we decided to make the Solar JSOC team geographically distributed, we realized that we didn’t want to play a clean remote, in which each office lived its own separate life. On the contrary, it was important for us that the guys in Moscow, Nizhny Novgorod, and other offices work together to solve common problems. This principle became fundamental and, in our opinion, largely determined the successful work of geographically distant teams.

    As we expected, in the first place, this allowed the guys not to cook every day in the same environment, where it is likely that they will be “sucked” into monotonous routine activities within the framework of the SLA. Solving common problems requires active interbranch interaction.

    In addition, in such a geographically distributed group working on a single topic, the degree of “pollination” is significantly higher. The exchange of knowledge takes place more intensively when colleagues are with you who use very different approaches and methods - ask, learn, develop!

    Our mother and there, and here pass

    The topic of professional support and exchange of experience between employees of remote offices is important to deal with on an ongoing basis, not letting it drift. Otherwise, it will fade with the enthusiasm of the staff.

    We decided to organize a cycle of seminars - the work is permanent, we need to look for topics, form cases, prepare internal speakers. For many colleagues, the performance in front of their own is solid pluses: the audience is familiar, the topics are interesting for everyone, and there is an opportunity to train your presentation skills - it will definitely come in handy! After participating in such seminars, many of our internal experts successfully perform further at more complex external events - in front of customers and the expert community - both in Moscow and abroad.

    But then we realized another important thing: these seminars are a great opportunity for communication between remote teams, and it should not be reduced to learning. They can be used on an ongoing basis, talking about the affairs and life of the company.

    About what in the end we try to talk and what topics to raise:

    • About the team, company, organizational changes and plans. It is usually someone from the line or large managers who broadcasts, but, very importantly, everything happens not in the monologue mode . There should always be a lot of questions, one should welcome discussions, discussions, etc. In addition, with a rapidly growing team, the opportunity to introduce the guys to each other is very useful.
    • About customers - both at the start of work with a new large client, and in case of any other major changes. The lecturer is usually the service manager in conjunction with the analyst and technical responsible.
    • About technology and tasks. Expert tracks discussing problems, tasks, new gadgets in technologies and processes of protection. The speaker is usually a volunteer from a team that has studied all this technical history.
    • About new attack vectors and our detection / reaction scenarios. This includes reviews of interesting incidents that are complex in terms of detection and investigation. These mitapas are more like brainstorming, since the goal is not to come with a report or the correct answer, but rather to think about how to correctly solve this problem, how to effectively detect the activity of intruders. The most unexpected, but sometimes rational ideas are often generated just by fighters of the first line - as they say, “through the mouth of a baby” (guys, don't be offended :)).
    • Organizational tracks: case review for analyzing typical flaws in handling incidents or solving applications, briefing on introducing a new scenario into the work, changes in the process base, etc.
    • Well, and nobody cancels a subject of spontaneous reports. For example, the story / review of the specialized exhibition of information security, which managed to get. Or discuss vendors as a global collection of feedback from operators.

    In technical terms, organizing seminars does not need much - Webex, Zoom. All notified, gathered in the group - and forward. Naturally, some of these speeches are recorded, so that newly coming guys can immediately begin to dive into the ecosystem and tasks, using the “experience of generations”.

    Now we have a new LMS system at the implementation stage. With its help, we will be able to make training courses from our seminars, and every newcomer in the company will have access to the entire set of seminars read in a concise and visual form.

    “The plane is good, the ship is good, the engine is good, but deer is better” or a little about business trips

    We are actively and actively investing in the development of employees, both career and professional. But after all, it is not only with complex tasks that a person lives at work!

    A significant role in maintaining his desire to work in the company is played by the team. You must admit that for many people the team is not only a professional environment, but also a circle of like-minded people, and for those who are especially lucky, and true friends. A team is a force who argues. But how to create a team, if you have half the department in Moscow, and the rest half of all of Russia is Great Scattered? Here you begin to think not quite as a leader, but rather, as a friend, as a person interested in another person, and you understand - you need to meet more often.

    From here follows another important rule: without personal meetings, personal communication, the work of a geographically distributed team will not be successful. Just do not think that the general gathering at corporate events once a year will help. See with the guys need to be regular.

    Well, we create a schedule of our business trips, business trips of immediate subordinates, business trips of expert trainers, and we begin to travel methodically in all offices. There is a connection now even in the most remote parts of our country, you can come to the regional office and work as if you did not leave Moscow anywhere. But at the same time, you go to have lunch with the guys, you are carrying out planning meetings, but not remotely, but right on the spot, side by side, looking into your eyes. Well, and from evening beer or a joint camping in bowling or in the cinema nobody is insured.

    The company's HR manager, director and analyst of Solar JSOC go to the Nizhny Novgorod subdivision.

    Indeed, it is very important that these transfers between cities pass through the whole team: it is very important for the guys at the operational level to just talk and sometimes quarrel in person, so that later work. The visit of the leaders always has an unexpectedly strong positive effect, if they do not come with a check, but to sort out the sick issues, listen and talk. Therefore, it is necessary to look for these windows even in the most complex graphics.

    And then there is a return transfer - we make a schedule of travel for regional leaders, and ordinary employees, to the head office and to other regional offices. We organize guest jobs and circles for colleagues, we teach them to work in new conditions. Yes, and a little knock at the central point of the examination and at lunch break “for IS” is also always useful. And so, after six months, all the members of a team of 100 people know each other by sight and by name, communicate, not involving you as a leader, know which of their colleagues to ask what question.

    Now there are many new technologies to automate communications with remote teams - chat bots, AI career couching solution and other undoubtedly useful solutions. We are also looking in this direction, we pretend what advantages the team will receive from such a format of communication. So far it is obvious that he will help beginners, especially those who work in other time zones, to quickly remove a number of everyday issues - how to get equipment, how to book a business trip, where to report that I am unwell, and the like.

    But it is still important to understand that these solutions will not replace communication with colleagues. We are not ready to trust even the most advanced artificial intelligence with an important conversation about the development of an employee; the chat bot will not be able to discuss with a colleague the difficulties in solving new problems or talk about the strategic development of a whole direction. Only personal involvement, communication of the manager, senior colleague, expert, personnel specialist will give people the opportunity to feel like a team. Therefore, communicate with remote employees personally, regularly and without absenteeism.

    Not a single work

    Of course, personal meetings for beer is a strong cement of team relations, but we went further.

    What will help people to know each other better outside of professional tasks, if not a joint holiday? We decided to organize virtual intellectual games “What? Where? When?". The season of games starts in autumn, and the winner is determined by the New Year holidays. Questions are selected and professional, and the overall development. Teams guys form themselves, but with the condition that the team must have players from different offices.

    We have been playing for 3 years. This year, during a regular visit to Khabarovsk, in order to organize an internship and communicate with local customers, our accidental tour team took part in a full-time battle of regional teams and took 3rd place out of 20! This is what training means!

    General corporate holiday issues - summer events, New Year's greetings, celebrations of the company’s birthday or gloomy Halloween will be left out of the framework of this story. You can easily find photo reports in our instagram.

    Well, and probably the most important thing that I would like to advise to all large and divided teams is to try to perceive the interlocutor / colleague / subordinate at any given time not as a voice on the handset, a cog in a business process or a trespasser, but as a person quite professional and handsome . After all, SOC is first of all people, and only then technologies and processes, no matter what we are told at the presentations by respected vendors.

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