In the first part of our four part series ”COVID COMPANY REGROUP & REBOOT” we discussed communication strategies. Here we dive into best practices for virtual office etiquette and virtual team tips that will inspire social connection and reinforce collaboration as one of the keys to recovery.
The old belief that our physical workspace is the center of a team’s productivity and even necessary is being challenged by the realization that work is increasingly about what we do, and about where we are. Technology advances, cost pres- sures, and globalization have joined forces over the past two decades to completely change how we work, resulting in
a 24×7 business cycle with instant communications, more diverse and geographically dispersed teams without borders, and flatter organizational structures. This combined with COVID and the absolute necessity of quarantining whole working has forced this new reality that we are increasingly mobile and our workplaces increasingly virtual. This flood
of change has caused many companies to reinvent the workplace. Some are doing it well, however many are not. Increasingly, companies may need to adapt to the virtual mindset to stay afloat during COVID and to compete in the global workplace. As Charles Darwin said, “It’s not the strongest or most intelligent of the species that survives, it is the one that is the most adaptable to change.”
With old ways of thinking, for individuals working remotely has come with some challenges.
• Lack of face-to-face supervision
• Lack of access to information
• Lack of adequate tech equipment & team knowledge of technology
• Lack of – or spotty – WIFI (or competing with partner/children for bandwidth) • Distractions at home especially young children at home needing supervision • Work plans aren’t as relevant without face-to-face interaction
• Social isolation and anxiety
Despite all these challenges and an unprecedented reality, where information is inconsistent, and when people feel insecure about what they know (or anyone else knows), human behavioral and psychological science points
to an increased human desperation for clear leadership weaved with transparency, guidance.
LEADERSHIP Secret to Leading a Virtual Team?
Being a Great Leader can happen anywhere. The essence of good management doesn’t change when working remotely. So here are a few tips to getting your remote team on track.
Management Essentials & Setting Expectations:
• Set the tone and be an example for the team
this, slack, and having email policies may be useful)
• Keep in mind and remind your team the whole world is in triage mode and is working to figure this out.
• Coach staff through challenges; and ask for honest feedback
• Focus on what you and your team can do not voids.
• Create scenarios and contingencies for immediate term and longer-term
goals, activities, and outcomes.
• Use key indicators of success in the job to think about clear and simple
metrics for work done. (This might be shared work plans, mini weekly
reports, group reports, or touchpoint meetings. )
• Consider asking your staff to use their calendars to time block as a metric
for work done. (Note time worked is not necessarily a useful measure of
• Organize a nerve center, for example, and enabling communities to work,
and learn, remotely. This may be a virtual website, intranet or as simple as
a folder on google drive.
• Don’t forget about team training and development. Adapt workplace learning
to virtual environments.
Do not assume your team will read your mind and just know your expectations of them, especially if some have never worked remotely. State clear guidelines for your teams.
Agree on Guidelines for Remote Work
• Make sure you are communicating the guidelines for remote work to your team.
Since some team members may be new to this new way of working virtual check in meetings have become very important to all the above.
Here are a few:
Conference Call & Virtual best practices
• Make sure teams know the technology being used before the meeting
• Always have an agenda even if its a simple 3 bullet point sentence said in
housekeeping at the beginning of your meeting • Dial in to meetings five minutes before start time
– Put frequently used dial-in numbers on speed dial
• Limit background noise by remembering some basics:
– Let household members know you are beginning a call
– Mute your phone when listening; unmute it for speaking
– Remember: typing, coughing, whispering, etc., can be heard! – Never put the call on hold – might turn on “hold” music
• Speak up and speak clearly so everyone can hear you • Stay concise and on topic
Tips for The Individual Remote Worker
PRODUCTIVITY & Managing your workday
Leading in a crisis is never easy, but hard times can make or break a company’s identity. During these times leaders must lead from the front. Part of this leadership process is getting even a remote team back on track which enforces recovery in itself. Remember yourself and your teams are human beings. Individuals have a desperation to make sense out of what has happened. During this time a leader’s example, words and actions can be the difference between a total loss or lead to the ability to navigate toward greater resilience, leaving an even more positive imprint on the company’s whole future identity.
In part 3 we will dive into the transformation of business models and problem solving to change this crisis into opportunities.
• Begin your workday at your normal start time
– Try to replicate your morning routine
– Get internet and Harvard tools (VPN, email, Teams, etc.) up and running
– Consider saying a virtual “good morning” to colleagues to signal that you
are now “at work and online”
• Take short, periodic breaks to stay energized throughout the day – Try walking, stretching, meditation, or chair yoga
• Eat a healthy lunch and the right amount of snacks
– Plan lunch in advance and take a break when you eat it – Stay hydrated to maintain focus throughout the day