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  • Madeline Caris

How to Collaborate When We Are Living the Iso-Life

Well isn’t this a whole new world.

Remote working is pretty much most people’s new norm and on the upside, dealing with your morning commute is now a thing of the past. But with that comes the introduction of other not-so-fun things like the inability to collaborate, involuntarily silo working, work-life imbalance. Not to mention all the lonely feels! #sadface

According to Forbes, the Silo mentality reduces efficiency and morale but what do you do when Silo Life is now more than just mental but also your actual, physical, everyday state? Am I the only one struggling with not being able to collaborate like I used to? Why can’t I just lean back in my chair and ask my co-workers for help or opinions like the good ol’ pre-Covid19 days?!

Revolutionize What You Do

Someone recently told me that the first step in handling this madness is Acceptance. I’m gonna have to accept that this is going to be the way for the next little bit. So perhaps I should get myself a table to work at rather than work cross-legged on my bed (with some disillusioned hope that this will all go away in 3 weeks).

Next step is to Adapt. The impact of not adapting your workflow and processes to this new world will be your undoing because the fact is, you can’t do things the way you did before. You just can’t.

Like the laws of the land literally won’t let you, ScoMo will throw a fine your way - so don’t even try.

Time to put your creative cap on and apply some blue sky thinking to find not just some make-shift band aid solution but actually revolutionize what you do on the daily.

Find not just some make-shift band aid solution but actually revolutionize what you do on the daily

If there’s a better way of doing things, there is no time like the present to start. Take a step back, assess your process and take into account all the key factors. And a key factor that is likely to be a casualty of the WFH life?


Why is Collaborating so important?

In the wise words of Vanilla Ice, “alright stop, collaborate and listen” - there have been no truer words spoken that are more applicable to today. It’s all about being able to collaborate, communicate and collaborate some more. And if you don’t, research shows that this will result in a lack of Mutual Knowledge (”MK” shall we say) in your business.

Without some MK in your life, you’re looking at difficulties in:

  • access to information,

  • lack of speed to information,

  • misunderstandings, and

  • missing the important and contextual points of any given project

Oooft. Nobody got time for that!

So how did you collaborate before?

Our team’s Daily Standup meetings used to be a collaborative circle of humans standing in Surry Hills. Today it is a collaborative group of humans on Zoom. We continue to use tools like Notion and Slack to collaborate and keep the Mutual Knowledge flowing across the team on all topics from customers to new exciting upcoming releases we’re working on.

Software engineering team standing around in a circle having a meeting
Style Arcade team in daily Standup / Photo by Madeline Caris

How are fashion retailers collaborating right now?

In recent calls with customers, I’m amazed at how resilient and adapting they’ve been to the recent changes that have so suddenly changed our everyday lives. For example, fittings that used to be a collaboration between Buying, Design and Production on a fit model, have evolved to mannequins in their own individual team member’s homes.

Range Planning for retailers is another process that will need to adapt as we move into the New Era. We can’t all collaborate in massively long range plan meetings anymore, (because I doubt anyone has a meeting room that meets the 4 sqm per person legal requirement for social distancing!) But let’s be honest the usual standard Range Planning process was flawed anyway - I know I could’ve done without the reams of printouts, dozens of excel spreadsheets and numerous versions. Not to mention tracking all the changes around product and pricing!

How to Collaborate in 2020 (and Beyond)

1. Live Collaboration

Using Range Planning as an example, one way to own the Collaborating Game is to be more efficient with your time and the time of your team. Your new process needs to be able to sync in real-time because Jemima in Melbourne shouldn’t really have to wait for Kylie in Sydney to finish adding in all the options before she can start on her part. This will help the overall team in meeting faster to market deadlines, if they’re not blocked or dependent on another team member. Getting to market faster? Hellooooo adaptability!

2. There can only be One (Source of Truth)

Secondly, do away with the different versions of the same file and have the one source of truth. Having multiple versions of the same plan, with changes not tracked properly, can open your business up to failures that could spell disaster down the line.

For example, getting the cost price wrong resulting in significantly less margin in your pocket (that’s NEVER good). Alternatively unsaved product changes can be a complete waste, let’s say if Jemima forgot to change the colour of a product and now you’ve produced 2000 random neon green pants as part of your new Naked Neutrals collection.

3. Agility + Adaptability = WIN

Sydney Morning Herald reported that piano sales were up 226% on last year, who knew that pandemic = pianos?! Who would've possibly seen that THIS was the item to jump during an epidemic!? But everything is changing these days and this is uncharted territory for the market. So being able to:

  1. access info easily,

  2. share said info with your team, and

  3. solution quickly is all about agility and adaptability

Who best understands info quickly and then adjusts decisions around it, WINS.

Opportunity awaits us all out the other side of this. But it’s those who collaborate, drawing from the experiences and knowledge of their team, that will have the better vantage point to adapt efficiently to this new ever-changing market.

Style Arcade is a software company servicing fashion companies to make the right product decisions through analytics and range planning.

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