As a veteran teleworker, it occurs to me that many of you may be working remotely for the first time, so I wanted to share some tips and strategies. And as someone who is talking to HQ staff, customers, project managers and teams in the field, I wanted to report back what our Client Delivery Team is experiencing.
- Video is best, the phone is good, and email/text is ok. This is the time for extra communication, with an empathetic ear.
- Get comfortable with video. In normal times, I try to make sure that I’m dressed professionally, working in a professional setting (i.e., no tween playing Fortnight or teen eating cereal in the background!). Heck, I even went so far as to research how to look better on video chat. Spoiler alert: you can raise your laptop with a book underneath to avoid the double chin! But these are not normal times. Many of us are balancing caregiving, an increased and stressful workload, and a work environment we didn’t plan on. Don’t avoid video just because you’re not in hair and makeup. This is – for now – our new normal.
- Make sure your cell phone number is in your signature block if you were not able to forward your desk line, as many of our teaming partners, staff members, and customers don’t have our contact information handy. This is the time to be most easily reachable.
- Many of our government customers and team members who use government bridge lines are experiencing network overload. Yesterday we had a contract kickoff delay start by nearly 20 minutes because too many people were dialing in at once. If you are able, offer to use our google chat/conference line to make it work. Make life smoother and easier for those you support.
- Think about the changes you want to make to your meeting structure to maximize efficiency. Here are some good tips, but I wanted to share with you a success story from our National Science Foundation Account meeting today. 20 minutes before, I asked one team member to present, shared my meeting objective, and asked that everyone be on video. This may have been our most effective account meeting yet!
- The dirty little secret with telework is that on average, people work longer hours because there are no natural cutoffs to your day. Make a schedule that includes breaks. Set 30/60/90 minute “containers” to focus on one task (hint: turn off email and phone notifications while you grind). And when your day is done, clamshell your laptop. But you need to stick to our core hours, that’s when people are expected to find you quickly. It was very helpful to me yesterday when one team member let me know she was stepping away for a bit. I didn’t want to cause her stress by pinging her when she was on a break or otherwise engaged.
- These are strange and anxious times. This is the time to check in with one another regularly. Whether it’s a daily standup call with your team or functional area counterpart or a chat to the cubemate you’ve been missing, ask how things are going. Let your manager know if you’re missing equipment or resources to be effective in your job. Ask for help if you are getting stuck moving a task to completion.
No one has any idea how long the global pandemic will last. What we do know is that how we work has been indelibly changed. Do what you can to continue #businessasthenewusual, and take the best from what this situation is teaching us with you into the new frontier.