In this unprecedented time where so many people are suddenly WFH, I wanted to share a few pieces of advice for leaders as you adapt to your new norm.
But I don’t want it to seem like I have it all figured out.
I’m one person on a team that has more than 23 years of experience in working remotely—but this is about more than just adapting to remote work.
This is about leading with courage, empathy, and vulnerability.
With that in mind, here are a few recommendations I have for you and your team right now.
Lead with kindness.
People are turning to leaders for confidence but also compassion. It’s true that a healthy remote culture starts at the top, and that’s no different right now. It may be tougher than you realize to lead from a place of trust, kindness, and compassion—but that’s what’s called for right now.
It’s no wonder that a rallying cry during these uncertain times is “We’re in this together”—because we are. It would be callous not to address how people are feeling and some of the very real concerns, worries, and vulnerabilities people have.
With so many teams becoming virtual with little to no warning, there are going to be distractions. (Hey, sometimes the video conference isn’t going to work.) Hardly anyone is going to be as productive as normal.
Remember we’re all human, and the great majority of people are doing the best they can.
What this looks like: Start meetings by taking the temperature in the virtual room. (After all, how you start your virtual meetings can truly set the tone for the rest of the meeting.)
Yesterday I was in a meeting with John McCarthy of AGI Hospitality Recruiting and At Work On Purpose and author of The Purpose Promise, and he did this by asking everyone, “How’s your spirit?”
The question is simple, but very effective in allowing people to open up, and see the bigger perspective.
Communicate with intention.
Teamwork relies on communication, and that’s no different in a remote culture. I’ve seen firsthand how proactive communication is key to success in a remote culture. Don’t assume people know what regular communication should now look like.
If you haven’t already, set very clear expectations for how communication should happen. What’s the go-to tool or channel? What’s the expectation on communication with customers? Give examples to people if you haven’t already.
What this looks like: At Edoc, we don’t depend on technology, but we embrace tools that can add to the culture and keep us connected. We use Slack to stay synced instead of email for most internal communication. Slack also serves as our “virtual water cooler.” We also default to video conferencing as much as possible to help foster meaningful connections with each other.
Take care of your own health.
Remote work isn’t about boundary-less freedom; in fact, our bodies crave a certain degree of structure. I encourage people to find a healthy morning routine or ritual that can bring them joy and set the day up for success.
It’s easy to end up working longer hours when you work remotely, so consider setting your own boundaries. Don’t just think about those, right them down. You may even set alarm(s) or use block scheduling if that means you’re more likely to carve out time for your health, well-being, and other things that matter to you.
What this looks like: I find it valuable to dedicate time to prayer and reflection. I’m also getting creative with at-home workouts. I’ve learned to treat workouts like I treat other meetings: attendance required. J I’m also doing my best to get movement throughout the day, separate form a dedicated workout; I use a Fitbit to hold myself accountable and to make it enjoyable. I also plan on setting up some virtual coffee chats with friends to get in more social connection.
Leading with Compassion
Our current situation takes a shift in focus from “me” to “we” in many areas of our life.
Don’t forget to connect with family, friends and loved ones during this time.
Here’s to taking care of yourself and each other, and to staying connected, staying positive, and staying grateful.
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This blog was written by Jim Mullaney, Founder and CEO of Edoc Service, Inc., and Kim Geiger, who leads the eSign Division at Edoc.