While all of us have adjusted to working from home for most if not all of our work time, the short and long-term impact of that is yet to be understood, let alone come up with ways of addressing those impacts. This was brought to life recently on an engagement at a $100bn client where our team was wondering if the employees knew about our engagement and what we were working on. We realized that in the pre COVID days, the employees would have seen us physically and the coffee machine communication channel (which is a very powerful channel) would have informed everyone but now the employees may not even know about our presence. If you expand the logic of that, then clearly the pre COVID tentacles that bound organizations and teams together are no longer available and we are all adjusting by the seat of our pants. This is already a whole new discipline that is emerging with all kinds of applications and software that are being developed for the post COVID world of remote work. Here are a few techniques and tips I’ve managed to pick up (POST THINGS THAT YOU ARE TRYING, EVEN IF THEY DIDN’T WORK IN THE COMMENT SECTION BELOW)
- Take an inventory of all your regular planned activities/events/meetings etc. and make sure you figure out a way to replicate them virtually. It gives people a sense of normalcy and at least you have a solid starting point.
- Establish a specific routine for interactions every day for your team. This at least lets people know that certain times have been set aside for everyone and everyone is expected to participate.
- Be welcoming of other family members and pets being part of the experience. They are now as much a part of our daily work life so don’t fret about it – welcome it 😊.
- Technology we use was not designed for this kind of load and volume. Accept technology glitches and roll with it – you have no choice.
- Don’t do team calls with half the team in a conference room and the other half from home – if you don’t have a totally remote work situation right now. Ensure everyone joins in from their own cubicle or home regardless of where they are – you want to make sure everyone is getting the same experience.
- Publish handbooks and guides for people to make it easier for them to participate. Not everyone will be adept equally.
- Find virtual team games and use them liberally. There are many out there and more coming daily. Make that part of your work life in a formal structured way.
- Assign meeting roles (facilitator, timekeeper etc. etc.) through a random drawing before each team meeting.
- Set up planned informal get togethers every single day – virtual coffee breaks. This is to replicate being in the office as much as possible. You have to consciously increase the number of interactions amongst your employees.
- Develop your own fun signals to use when on a virtual call. Wave your hand in front of the camera if you have a question. Mime clapping to signal approval of what you are hearing. This is actually a practical tip to reduce talking over each other during web calls.
While these may sound simple and mundane, these are all things that we have to experiment with and learn to ensure that we maintain a grip on our organizational cultures and shape them in the new reality. Otherwise, we run the risk of creating a workforce of individual contributors working remotely on tasks and I shudder at that prospect. Share with other what you are trying so that they can learn from you in the comment section below>>>> As always, stay safe.
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