You’re going to be doing this for a while.
How can you improve upon what you’ve done so far?
It’s been about two months since most companies switched to an all-remote operation. If you’re making it work, we sincerely congratulate you. We give you serious props for what you’re doing in these challenging times.
If you’ve taken the “best we can, if not optimal” approach to remote work, we think you may be ready for the next phase: The tweaking stage. Here’s what we recommend you review in this next phase of working remotely.
- What you did right initially: Established structured check-ins. Regular and predictable check-ins are critical to keeping teams clicking along, especially on work that involves many moving parts and different team contributions.
Time to review: The individual impact of the lack of face-to-face supervision and interaction. Before the crisis, management and employees likely had strong opinions about the necessity and benefits of face-to-face interactions. Now, they have no choice but to work without it. Drill down on the individual and team impact. You may find that many are rising to the occasion and doing well without it, but there may be others, despite regular virtual check ins, who are not. Those teams or individuals may need more than an all-team/one-size-fits-all approach to virtual communication and management.
- What you did right initially: Provided several different communication technology options. You figured out fairly fast that email alone wasn’t going to cut it. You likely have other collaborative tools for video conferencing and virtual project management in place. Hopefully, by now, most employees are comfortable with their use.
Time to review: Long-term investments in these technologies. It’s impossible to know how much longer companies will need to work this way. The temporary, free-trial apps and software that employees added to their phones and laptops may not be adequate for the long haul. Look at all of your options (not just the quick-fix ones), and determine how you will budget for them. You’ll also want to talk with an IT expert about data security and storage capacities.
- What you did right initially: Acknowledged there are unique challenges to working at home. When the crisis first hit, our thinking was centered on how to help team members find compatible ways to blend home and work life through technology, communication, and work styles. If you’ve adjusted deadlines, shifted around responsibilities, or lent a compassionate ear, we know from experience your employees appreciate your considerate approach.
Time to review: What if home life is not OK for the long-term? The COVID-19 crisis has caused long-term, if not permanent, overwhelming personal challenges. Few have resolutions to the problems created by school closures, child and eldercare roadblocks, a spouse’s/partner’s job or business loss, and devastating illness. You may need to explore new work solutions with an extra-compassionate approach.
For the road ahead during this next phase of working remotely, consider this advice from the Harvard Business Review, “Effective leaders take a two-pronged approach, both acknowledging the stress and anxiety that employees may be feeling in difficult circumstances, but also providing affirmation of their confidence in their teams… With this support, employees are more likely to take up the challenge with a sense of purpose and focus.”
What challenges are you still working through right now? Let me know so we can help share more ideas.
Stay safe and keep in touch!