For many of us, a week into our #remotereality, we’re finding our way in how best to remain connected and focused. Regardless of business, and whether teams are seasoned at #wfh or greeting this change with apprehension, the critical factor binding us together is the need to support our people. Connection, engagement, and motivation will make all the difference.
We work with many clients, in a variety of industries, each with their own unique model, opportunities, and challenges, all finding themselves in equally uncharted territory.
In supporting a client in their transition from a co-located workforce to all-remote within a few days, we were challenged to find ways to help people remain connected to team members and their organizational purpose. Despite being dispersed, this particular division of a major player in the healthcare industry plays an essential role in providing data and insights that are used to analyze trends and make crucial decisions during this pandemic.
They can’t afford to be slowed down by geographic constraints. In fact, more now than ever, they must accelerate and act nimbly as a team. How are they successfully working together? A few seemingly simple but intentional ‘requirements’ contribute to their success:
· Being visually present makes a big difference. Not only because we can see each other but because so much of the way we send and receive information is non-verbal; a head nod, shoulder shrug or gesture can convey just as much as words when seen. It also unites us on a personal level because now we’re inviting coworkers “in” our homes. The things you see in one’s environment can become interesting insights and help build trust and better relationships with one another, which are critical elements in supporting remote teaming.
· Having a functional virtual meeting environment that can handle everyone being on camera is essential. Choose a platform adept at handling video capabilities, chat, and screensharing simultaneously, which in turn help virtual teams feel more connected,productive, and more human in a digital space.
· Being explicit about actions that need to be taken, what decisions need to be made, by whom and when becomes more necessary. Ending your meeting with a walk through of the acceptance criteria, or reviewing tasks on your backlog can ensure you’ve met your objectives and have clarity on next steps. As for gaining consensus, when we’re in a physical meeting, we have an intuitive sense of when we’ve reached agreement and can move on. In remote teams, even with cameras in use, we need to be explicit. You may even ask your team to ‘place their vote’ in the chat so that there’s no mistaking the group sentiment.
Yes, we still experience the ‘conference call bingo’ worthy moments, with people talking over each other unintentionally, responding while on mute, the ubiquitous dog barking in the background, etc. But right now, people seem to be listening harder and better, and learning new ways to work and connect – and that’s a good thing. The circumstances surrounding COVID-19 are forcing us to adapt, and so far, we are.
If we can maintain that momentum, perhaps one silver lining through all of this will be better relationships, a greater degree of trust, more efficient meetings with improved etiquette, and perhaps of most importance, giving evidence to the fact that teams can still think, do, and move no matter where we are.