BUILDING A TEAM IN A REMOTE ENVIRONMENT

by Trevor Lee

How has work changed for you and your company since the start of the pandemic?

Recently I was having a conversation with my brother about this. Both of us have been forced into remote work as our norm since the beginning of the year. As we talked it became clear that we’ve experienced similar benefits and challenges despite being in different fields. One of the things I try to do consistently in my job is evaluate what’s working and what isn’t so I can make adjustments. But this conversation made me realize I hadn’t spent enough time reflecting on the ways the pandemic has changed things–both for better and for worse.

So here are three observations about what’s changed for me. How do these fit with your experience? What does this mean for your company? What are other ways work has changed and what adjustments are you making?

One of the benefits my brother and I have both experienced (other than wearing shorts with our button up shirts) is greater efficiency in meetings. In the past, many of our meetings had unspoken norms in terms of the expected length. But since meetings moved online those norms seem to have faded. Last year a client meeting that lasted 20 minutes would have felt awkward, like we somehow hadn’t accomplished what we were supposed to or connected adequately. Now that same 20 minute meeting feels normal. If we’ve covered what we need to cover it feels natural to be done. This has created the space to accomplish more each day and I’m embracing that.

Of course the changes haven’t been all positive. My brother and I have both experienced more disconnection from our teams. This is both a function of not seeing people in person and the dark side of more efficient meetings. There is often a focus on getting things done to the exclusion of connecting as people. One company I work with has started a 15 minute morning check in every day. Another uses Slack to celebrate wins team members have in real time. Building a strong team is a challenge in this environment and finding little, consistent ways to build the team is really important.

One company I work with has started a 15 minute morning check in every day. Another uses Slack to celebrate wins team members have in real time.

Another challenge is distraction. This is the dark side of increased flexibility. One of the kids needs help making breakfast? The dishwasher isn’t working? We need a few things from the store? There are a hundred distractions that present themselves every day and somehow working remotely makes it seem easier to indulge them. I’ve had to rethink the boundaries I put on my work time to stay focused and prioritize the right things. What are you doing to mitigate distractions? How are you helping your employees with this?

There are a hundred distractions that present themselves every day and somehow working remotely makes it seem easier to indulge them.

As work continues to change, and important part of leadership is paying attention and making necessary adjustments to help yourself and your employees work well.