As global concern about the current COVID-19 outbreak grows, we want to take a moment to show gratitude to all the executive and HR teams that have been working tirelessly to guide your organizations through this situation with compassion, grace, and diligence. Change management is difficult to navigate in any scenario, and we have seen how well you are leading your teams and confronting head-on the disruption this is causing in your organizations. For that, we commend you and your display of true leadership.
We understand the current outbreak is shifting many organizations to working remotely where possible and canceling in-person training at a time when team and leadership development may be needed most. We are here to support you in any way we can.
To start, we want to share some of our best practices for managing virtual teams to help keep morale and productivity high during this time of uncertainty and change.
Now more than ever we are seeing how technology allows us to stay connected from anywhere in the world. Utilize tools such as Microsoft Teams, Skype, GoToMeeting, Slack and other options to stay connected. Canceled event? Consider making it a virtual event.
Establish Communication Guidelines
Everyone has a preferred communication style. This is important to understand when switching to a remote working environment. Some people prefer to check their email once an hour or less to maintain their focus on other tasks, while others seem to check it as often as they hear a notification. Same goes for text. Ask your team members to let everyone know their preferred communication methods when working from home. That way, all team members will know how best to reach out, whether they need a short, quick answer or a thorough one. Also, don’t be afraid to pick up the phone. When you’re in the office, it’s easy to stop by someone’s desk for a quick question, but sending an email may not be the best way for a timely response. Instead, pick up the phone and make that quick call. Even if there is a time difference, sometimes hearing the message is more effective than reading it.
When you’re not used to your team working remotely, you may experience the urge to micromanage and overcommunicate with your team, but this can be demotivating to your team members. Show them you trust them by limiting unnecessary check-ins. We recommend setting clear goals for the week and checking in periodically to ask “how can I help” rather than asking for a status update every hour.
Schedule Team Touchdown Virtual Meetings
It’s hard to keep everyone on the same page when you’re isolated, so we suggest scheduling weekly touchdown meetings via video conference if possible. These don’t need to be long meetings. They can be as simple as each person giving a brief update about what they are working on and where they may need help—just the highlights. This gives people the opportunity to ask for help where needed and gives the leader an update on where everyone is at for the week. It also keeps the team connected.
Take Advantage of the Downtime
You just might find that minimizing the distractions of the office can cause your employees to be more productive and therefore find themselves with more downtime. This is the time to take advantage of that by doing those organizational and planning tasks that often get pushed aside. You can also utilize this time for team and leadership development training. This may sound counterintuitive, but virtual training allows for employees to learn how to navigate this change and develop skills to lead a virtual team at a time they need it most.
Droste has been conducting virtual training programs in over 20 countries for several years. We have received great feedback from participants and their leaders on the benefits of these programs to their organizations. We have several programs available for virtual training on topics such as Managing Virtual Teams, Navigating Change, Delegation and Accountability, Team Funtionality, Productive Conflict, Exercising Influence, and several more.
If you have in-person training you would like to switch to virtual, or if you would like to schedule new virtual trainings or virtual coaching sessions to fill downtime, we are here to help. Reply to this message, and let’s talk about what we can do to make the most of this time.
We are here to support you.
Thanks for helping us spread our mission and not germs,
— Lisa Satawa, Founder