As the world changes quickly, so has the way we lead, work and job search. Working virtually is now the norm, but not without its challenges. There is also opportunity to rethink how we do these things with intention and trust in the process.
Leading looks different right now, but is more important than ever. I’m sharing a few of the challenges I’m seeing and hearing, as well as tips for being the virtual leader your team needs today.
Challenge: How do I keep my team engaged and productive when they are faced with more distractions and uncertainty than ever
Tip: The key here is communication, communication and more communication. From what is happening within the organization to your expectations of what work looks like right now, be clear with your team and keep the door open for questions, concerns and dialogue.
Challenge: How do I maintain team cohesiveness despite physical distance?
Tip: Culture is incredibly important and challenging to foster when everyone is geographically separated. The key to culture and overall wellbeing is to incorporate fun within the work. The opportunity to connect, share and laugh helps balance out the uncertainty of the moment.
Challenge: How do I set expectations and evaluate productivity from afar?
Tip: The key here is clear communication and trust. Goals should be focused on outcomes and not how employees are spending their time, especially in a time of uncertainty and many competing priorities.
To be effective when working from home, intention in where, how and when you work is important. It’s about setting yourself up for success and in turn, leading by example for your team. Consider these challenges and how you can proactively address and prepare yourself for productivity.
Challenge: I don’t have a work space that allows me to work productively.
Tip: While not everyone has a home office that supports working from home, it’s important that you find a space at home to work that isn’t shared with your family and can be separated from your living space.
Challenge: I’m overwhelmed by or unfamiliar with the new technology.
Tip: Practice makes perfect. Spend some time testing out the technology on your own. Use Zoom to connect with family and friends. This will help you familiarize yourself with how it works and ensure you are ready when work calls.
Challenge: I’m struggling to separate work and home.
Tip: Here, the solution is relatively simple. Barriers and boundaries. When working from home, work can easily bleed into your personal life. Instead, set clear work hours and stick to them. It’s also important to step away from the screen throughout the day. Talk a walk around the block, grab a snack or stretch.
Challenge: I’m working from home with my kids underfoot.
Tip: These are unprecedented times and you are being asked to juggle a lot. Depending on the age of your children, it may be challenge to truly separate work and home. But establishing a schedule will help. Incorporate time for work, play and rest. Your days will look different. And the good news… you aren’t alone.
Job searching virtually
Whether secure in your job or already actively searching for your next opportunity, this is the time to consider how the process has changed. Here are some tips to help you plan for success and standout online.
Challenge: I’ve never done a virtual interview before.
Tip: This is new to many, on both sides of the camera. Become familiar and comfortable being on camera and practice in advance. This will ensure the technology works as planned, the lighting is good and you are as comfortable as possible.
Challenge: How do I network during this time of social distancing?
Tip: While the world is changing, networking is still important and should not slow down. It will just look different. But technology is your friend here. There are myriad ways to connect from a simple phone call to connecting face-to-face via video conferencing tools (i.e. Zoom, Facetime, etc.). And face-to-face interaction reinforces that networking is about relationship building.
Challenge: I’m losing my professional edge.
Tip: As you continue the job search process, maintain professional etiquette… as if you were searching and connecting in person. While the process might look different, organizations are still looking for the best fit. Going above and beyond is always a good idea.
Now more than ever, we need to connect with others and know we aren’t alone, while still focusing on the work that needs to be done and feeling productive. This is an opportunity to build culture at a time when employees need support and empathy, in addition to employment. As a leader, it’s a time to lead by example and keep moving forward.