What a difference a few months makes. That’s the understatement of 2020. With the deadly COVID-19 pandemic overtaking our lives and conversations, many businesses and organizations were flung into the remote workspace. As we continue to adjust to our new normal, here are a couple suggestions for working with a distributed workforce:
A coaching colleague once described parts of a meeting as in the shape of a canoe. The first pointed end is where we begin the meeting with connection. The “meat” of the meeting is the wide part of the canoe. The second pointed end includes follow-up action items. In this remote working environment, it is so important to remember to connect first. People may be hitting a wall with juggling home life and work life. Take the time to check in. In the beginning of this change, I was encouraging my coaching clients in their team meetings to ask specific things like, “What’s been a positive about working from home? What are you noticing in your neighborhood? How are you supporting our community? What’s been hard about this?” Ask a good open-ended question and then go around and call on each person answer. It helps people to connect and to process what is going on.
Look for resources to help you and your team work better together. Check out remotepathways.com, which has podcasts and resources from fellow coaches Jennifer Britton and Michelle Mullins. With about a dozen podcasts with titles like “Getting Up to Speed Quickly in the Remote Space” and “Conflict in the Remote Space,” these 20-minute podcasts offer helpful tips, worksheets, mini courses and so much more. (Full disclosure: I am the guest for the podcast on mentoring remotely.)
In March I launched a corporate mentor program with participants dialing in from all over the world. I had done a similar training in 2019, but with half the number of participants (20 people versus 40 participants). I knew I would be challenged delivering the content and also managing all the participants, so this time I enlisted the help of two people from my client’s human resources team. They helped me keep track of who still needed to respond and monitored questions coming in from the chat feature. It worked beautifully.