Back when we mostly worked in offices, these spaces provided us with a supportive, information-rich and always-on environment. We had a constant flow of social and subliminal information about our team mates and company. This meant that leaders and teams didn’t have to try too hard to see what was going on.
Compare this with working remotely, where teams are limited to viewing one another for short periods on Zoom and making inferences about mood, performance and motivation from the little evidence they have.
In the virtual world, people rely more on the tones of emails (which we all know is open to misinterpretation), voices on video calls, blurred facial expressions, second-hand information passed on from others.
Where there are gaps, we join the dots to make judgments. Leaders (as well as team members) have struggled to connect with their team members on the less formal stuff — the way they used to. There’s so much more to do and it’s challenging to connect from a distance.
But there’s good news – the strategies below and have helped my clients increase productivity, reduce stress, and maintain healthier communication channels.
Some leaders are saying they’re getting MORE work done while working from home – as they have less distractions.
Others are concerned that they can’t SEE their staff, so don’t know what they’re doing – let’s focus on output not hours in the office. If that’s the case – monitor how quickly someone gets back to an email/ call. But don’t micromanage unless the output is down
Create New Rituals
By creating a predictable ritual and leading by example, managers can foster a sense of connection, safety, and fun, even while their teams are buffeted by all the change around them.
Set new norms with your team to identify how to best work together in this new reality so they can maintain a sense of community, transition through the change effectively, and maintain (and even improve) team performance, while supporting the wellbeing of team members.
In lives riddled with unpredictability and constant change, rituals provide predictability and structure. While we don’t know what challenges we’ll face tomorrow, we do know there will be some. We can better manage the unpredictable by having structured rituals whenever feasible.
Here are some examples of some of the effective rituals my clients have