Managing Virtual Teams

Our New Normal

Emergency Work From Home (WFH) placement can be an exciting and welcomed change of scenery for some and yet creates anxiety and uncertainty for others. Even in the chaos of what is going on around us we must do what we can to maintain a positive outlook and that we can still trust our people to do great work in a professional manner, albeit virtually. It is likely that everyone has something to gain from a refresher on WFH best practices. Those experienced with WFH may have picked up a few bad habits over the years, such as working through lunch or clocking 12‐hour workdays because of difficulty setting boundaries. Those new to the WFH scene may not have the right ergonomic setup or technology to support their work. Try to understand each personal situation and ask early and often what is needed in order to help them be successful in their new version of normal. Share Tips for Working from Home with your team as a helpful reminder of how to prepare a productive work from home environment. Some may just need a quick refresher on using WebEx or Zoom or equipment upgrades, while others need flexible work hours to help manage everything on the home front. The lesson here, reassure and trust your team but do not assume you know their challenges, make sure you regularly check‐in on how they are doing.

A Time of Reassurance and Trust

It is unprecedented that now more than ever we must consider the personal situation of each team member and the potential impact to both team and individual productivity. We have never in our history experienced work, childcare, and school all colliding as is the case for much of today’s workforce. Moreover, this all happened almost overnight. A working mom and spouse WFH coupled with two school aged children in class at home might need flexible work hours to make it all work. Entry‐level staff may not want to be disconnected from the senior mentors they had easy access to before they began isolating and WFH. Both situations are equally stressful for all involved. As leaders we must be the voice of reassurance and remind our teams that we are all in this together.

Flexibility is Paramount

In this unprecedented period of uncertainty, we must be empathetic, flexible, and trust in our people that work is still happening and that client needs are being met. The old adages of “you must be present to win” or “out of sight, out of mind” do not work in the current remote work climate where we must trust first that people are rising to the occasion and doing the right thing even when no‐one is looking. While flexibility in where and how work is getting done is key, it may be beneficial to establish core hours to help ensure the collective team is reliably online and accessible between certain hours, for example from 10am – 3pm. Alternatively, you may choose to modify the start of the business day to allow additional family activities to settle before the official workday begins i.e. no formal meetings before 9am. As for team and individual productivity and performance, we should ask ourselves whether it really matters right now that work occurs off hours if deadlines are still being met.

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