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Managing the Changing Landscape of Work, Communication and Collaboration

Coronavirus is impacting not only health but stock market valuations, global travel, and a national run on basics (bottled water and toilet paper seem to be leading the way in shortages).

Now, in a recent article (Mar 7 in GeekWire), Zoom CEO Eric Yuan thinks the response to the coronavirus outbreak could lead to a fundamental, permanent shift in how people work.

That fundamental and permanent shift may prove difficult for many organizations to manage - - and succeed. The shift will inevitably be a financial mountain that includes security, infrastructure, equipment, training, and job culture.

As an example, in a recent NPR interview, Jonathan Wasserstrum, CEO of SquareFoot, was quoted as saying, "I don't believe people are as productive at home."

In the same NPR article, an employee from another firm was quoted as saying, ".. she misses things at the office — her special headset, big-screen computer, and most of all, her colleagues."

Preparing Your Leadership Team

If your leadership team has little or no experience managing a remote workforce, here are a few tips that may help them:

  1. Plan now. Don't wait.

  2. Openly discuss job roles and individuals from the perspective of how will their job role be fulfilled without being present in the office.

  3. Agree on how you'll lead the team. It's not at all about "managing" activities. It is about helping them become productive in an environment they may not be familiar with working in - home.

  4. Invest in proper tools for success. Enable your team to conduct virtual meetings for collaboration and sharing. I strongly suggest zoom.

  5. Set clear objectives and outcomes for your teams. They must know what you expect as outcomes and how they will be measured.

  6. Implement a training program. Years ago, I remember coming home from work and finding my Mom in tears in our kitchen. She was terrified that she was going to be fired for not understanding a new email program. Had she been trained, she would not have been terrified.

  7. Trust your people. Trust your people. Trust your people. Tell them you trust them.

Preparing Your Team

Help your team become prepared to be successful while working remotely:

  1. Tell them they may be working remote. Give your team a little notice (if possible). Some folks don't have a space in their home or apartment to work from without displacing other family members, roommates or significant others.

  2. Teach them how to be remote. Provide training and reference materials for the basics. VPN. eMail. Business applications. Backup. Printing. Enabling them to have an in-office experience while in their home will encourage productivity.

  3. Give them clarity as a gift. Let your team know that remote productivity is as much an art as it is a science. They'll need to practice and should not feel threatened if they have a bad day.

  4. Enlist your current remote workforce as supplemental trainers. Your current team of remote warriors will become invaluable. Enlist them as supporters for those who have not experienced being remote before. It will also create community and collaboration.

  5. Don't drop rituals. If you hold daily team meetings in the office, hold them remotely. If you have one-on-ones in the office, have them remotely. Maintaining continuity will help morale. Oh, and turn your video on! Give your team the gift of that water-cooler experience.

  6. Give the team support and feedback channel. You cannot plan for all contingencies. So, give your team a feedback channel to ask questions, offer suggestions, and seek help. Monitor that channel 24/7, and don't leave them hanging. Respond!

I hope these ideas get you started with preparing your teams.

Please be safe out there.

For more information, drop me an email at, or visit my website to schedule a call at

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