Learning from the Coronavirus on Working Virtually

We are living in challenging times… Many corporations are asking people to work virtually through these health challenges we are facing as a global community. This may be new to you and you may or may not like it.  What we DO know is that teams can be more productive when faced with a crisis according to John Katzenbach, an expert on organizational culture and teams.  We also know that teams may be more creative and productive with a little distance. Even though being part of worldwide teams have given us exposure to this, it might be important to again look at communications best practices around working virtually. Here are 10 recommendations from us that have been identified as important components on working virtually:

  • Know Yourself: How do you think or feel about working virtually and what does your own HBDI® data say about your desire to do this? Can you find ways to adapt? How can you manage your stress around this?
  • Know your colleague’s HBDI® profile: Remind yourself of each team members preferred communication style (as informed by HBDI data) and be sure to use it! Share yours with team members as well for a two-way dialog on how best to communicate.
  • Communication Counts: Talk with each team member one on one however briefly by phone at least once every ten days…not just email. Practice adapting your thinking to theirs and present concepts using this walk-around as a guide.

Adapting to Others

  • Listening: An important skill always, but when developed virtually can help to improve productivity, as well as your ability to influence, persuade and negotiate. Without direct in-person interactions, listening becomes even more critical.
  • Team Protocols: Team to agree on email formats (subject line, contents); using webinar platform features (cameras etc); meeting schedules and guidelines for project management.  Other productivity tools the team can access could be woven into the culture of the team.
  • Email Protocol: Use mail for short interactions and if you have more to share, attach additional documents or talk directly. Do not engage in emotional interactions by mail…use the phone or other platforms. NO CAPS WHEN YOU ARE UPSET!! 😊
  • Organization: For project-focused teams, one person would act as the “secretary” and maintain a record of all emails, commitments and milestones. This helps with accountability as well as accomplishments.
  • Meetings: Attempt to create team face-to-face sessions at least once a quarter, if at all possible. Otherwise use Zoom or other webinar-based platforms can make the team feel more connected.  Create whole-brained meeting agendas to make sure all 4 quadrants are addressed.
  • Building Trust: Building trust is always one of those important elements whether working virtually or not, but it now needs to be done on a whole new level. How long ago was it when people said they were working from home, it meant that they were doing other things… This may be a new way of life now which means building trust in a new way.  And remember TRUST means different things to different types of thinkers on teams.
  • What Else? This is by no means an exhaustive list and we will learn much more both personally and as part of organizations.

Key Takeaways:  The future is here and virtual workforces have been on the rise have been on the rise for a while. This trend will only continue over the decade with the increased use of AI technology and the need for companies to reduce operating cost. Airline companies have planned for it.  The Future of Work has been a huge topic at conferences with its implications for jobs and social structures. Now seems to be a good time to look at this and learn more about it through the Coronavirus situation. Companies may realize the benefits even sooner.

Tell us your story…We’d like to hear from you on what your experience is working virtually and how you connect to others on your team. Email me or share more in the comments section below. Others may learn from your story and what you share. 

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