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5 ways to maintain your productivity and company culture remotely
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Build Resilent Teams
By Melinda Starkweather/ on 17 Apr, 2020

Maintain your productivity and company culture remotely

High powered teams don’t need proximity to flourish. Our idea of normal typically changes more slowly, but humans excel at adapting and surviving. Working remotely is no exception.

Establish rules and tools

Establish clear rules of engagement that align with your company culture. Expectations need to be explicit. It might include morning and end-of-day check-ins, a 15 minute daily catch-up, or end of day reports on what was completed. Office hours should be limited to those of a normal day, even though there is nothing normal about a mass quarantine. Articulate the expected frequency and timing of different types of communication. Let everyone know how the chain of command will work remotely.

Describe how teams will work together and the tools that will be used to create transparency and accountability. “I’m getting too many emails,” can’t be an acceptable response. Yes, there may be a lot of emails, but at the moment, no one can talk in the office.

Give your staff clarity about the tools you’ll use to connect remotely and provide adequate training, including video or printed documentation. This is especially important for staff who are new to using teleconferencing tools. We’ve already read stories about unaware staff bringing their teleconferencing into the bathroom. Make sure your team knows the score.

Encourage feedback

This can be done any number of ways, but since people are separated, misunderstandings can become rapidly amplified. Encourage your staff to be open if they are uncertain about intent or how something was presented. Ideally, your staff should have a place to constructively unload about things that aren’t working well, or that are damaging trust among the team. Unspoken negative feelings don’t die, they fester and grow. Department leads can be very effective detectors of discord, so express to them how essential they are to keeping a positive, remote culture.

Provide guidance for creating an effective workspace

Articulate your expectations about appropriate dress and “setdressing” for teleconferencing. Leaders should set easy-tomeet standards for teleconferencing backdrops (even if it is just a plain wall). Individuals at home will still be representing your brand, even if it’s only from the waist up. Let staff know what their managers and customers expect. If your staff needs gear, make sure they have it. We like the Jabra 410 usb conference speaker.

“Dad, can I make you a grilled cheese?” During a recent call, we were treated to a lovely family moment when a young guy, home from school, checked in with his dad and asked if he could make him lunch. Many parents are now in the impossible position of having to work full time and guide their children through the last months of school. Creating an “office space” may be practically impossible. As a leader, it’s important to let them know that everyone will understand interruptions. Providing sympathy and support will foster trust, which fosters high-performing teams.

Create channels for different types of communication

Set up a team channel for human and emotional touchpoints. Think of it as an electronic office kitchen or the water cooler. These interactions build trust and comradery, which is essential for maintaining highfunctioning teams. Set expectations for appropriate language (HR rules should still apply) and monitor the channel. Each working group or department should also have their own channels for project-specific communication. Plan for one-on-one phone calls as well.

Send your organization’s ethics or values statement to your staff

This is an essential time to reinforce your company values and culture to encourage cohesive behavior that will strengthen your brand. If someone is remote and conflicted about a course of action, a values statement can guide them. Awareness will lead to motivation and behavioral clarity. If you have never articulated values, contemplate one method as described in The Culture Code, by Daniel Coyle. Consider your customers, your employees and your community in light of your responsibility to each and your organizational goals. What is your purpose? What type of service does your organization represent? What do all your members need to feel from their interactions with staff? If anything has changed because of “Stay at home” measures, articulate that.

Your organization will continue to evolve and customize your system as you find what works best. Be patient and stay safe.

By: Melinda Starkweather
Starkweather Association Services