Many organisations are presently faced with the harsh realisation of revenue loss and are struggling each day to make a profit. The times we live in are uncertain, and without daily face-to-face interaction with team members, it's easy to feel disconnected, as well as anxious about your company's "health."
As a remote team, this topic is one that we feel we can weigh in on. Although our business model and way of work has supported us throughout the trials of COVID, we are empathetic to our clients who are struggling to make their presence known to their team, on an internal level, while they are working from home.
This blog explores a few ways in which you can ensure your voice and value is still loud (and around), and may help you to push any feelings of nervousness about getting "lost" to one side, especially as a leader.
The Art of Positivity
If there's one thing that I've learned in working with people, it's that those with a positive perspective tend to be those that others gravitate towards. Leaders with a purposeful, bright outlook tend to be more relatable than the grouchy "boss" who radiates a 'do-not-approach-me' demeanour. We all have our days of self-doubt or frustration that hang over us like a cloud, but it's important to do what's required to shake those feelings off as quickly as possible, especially for the sake of your team. Remember that when you aren't physically with your team, your way of communicating (whether writing or on a Zoom call) becomes all the more important.
How to put this into action:
You know that fluffy saying ' if you see something beautiful in someone, speak it?' Well, yeah - speak it. Don't go out of your way to find compliments that are inauthentic, but if, for example, you've noticed that a team member has delivered a particularly great piece of work, don't hesitate to tell them or give them praise.
Find ways to share good news stories or industry news with your team that are positive, or future-focused. COVID is very real and we are all feeling the tangible effects (and sad losses), but the world is still turning and there are always highlights to pick out in any scenario. Another way to share your positivity is through quotes, or snippets from articles and feel-good pieces. Where there is a will, there is a way. Even a smile goes a very long way - you may not realise who needs to see a friendly face that day.
Communication is Key
One of the greatest challenges that any remote team faces is that of communication. If you've read any of our Kaleidoscope content before now, you'll know that we're #1 fans of Slack. It's a tool that we've found not only streamlines team conversation, but also encourages it. No matter which platform your company uses to engage, ensure that now, more than ever, you make use of it. We've found that over-communication, while it may feel burdensome sometimes to type updates or jot thoughts down, is the best strategy.
How to put this into action:
Make time each day (we'd recommend the start to each day to kick off your day with a level of direction) to catch up on anything that your team members are sharing, and respond to any questions that they may have asked you. While working remotely, make yourself available when you aren't in meetings and remind yourself that although your office is virtual, you need to leave the door open, so to speak.
It's easier than you'd think to become a become a blocker (and inevitably a frustration) if you aren't finding time to catch up on team conversations or requests for help or more information. In fact, we've seen this internal struggle become so problematic at times, that it has impacted on the customer. If teams aren't finding time to connect, the customer, who enables your organisation, ultimately feels the effect.
Time management and creating a routine seems to be the cornerstone of all content that focuses on organisations and COVID. But this blog would be weakened if we didn't make mention to the importance of structure in remote working. While we are firmly against micro-management by leadership, we do believe that, in essence, you should be able to micro-manage yourself.
If your priorities shift, which happens on a daily basis, ensure that you've allocated yourself the time you'll need to complete whatever tasks are sitting within your realm of accountability. Ultimately, the chain of accountability takes on a domino effect, so if you miss a deadline, it impacts the next person, and the next person, and the next person .... and then, much like communication, your customer.
How to put this into action:
If remote working is new to you, ensure that you have a space to be able to call your own while you are working. This is not to say that you have to isolate yourself, but you should be able to adjust the volume around you (or plug in earphones) when you need to concentrate. There is massive value in finding a comfortable chair and having access to strong Wi-Fi when you need it most.
Creating priority lists for yourself is as equally important as finding a good working environment in your home. It'll remind you what you need to make time for in the day/week/month/quarter, or show what you have the flexibility to move around. If your priorities need to shift, communicate that to your team. It's always a good idea to share what you're working on and what's in the pipeline openly so that your team has visibility and can set their expectations of you accordingly.
Don't be afraid to book time out in your diary when you need to focus, but be sure to share your needs with your team members so that they know not to disturb you, or expect a response from you when they know you are busy. They will only know you need this time however, if you make them aware. In turn, respect their requests for 'down-time.'
To summarise, the incremental suggestions highlighted in this blog, are not ground-breaking. But, they are practices that we have observed with our clients that have strengthened the way in which organisations work, especially when team members are working from different locations. They may seem obvious, but it's not uncommon for them to fade away during times when pressure is high - so, sometimes, a reminder can be helpful.
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