“In the spirit of “distributed teams,” I crowdsourced these tips from the 2 million or so incredible professionals who follow me on social media. Here are some of their top hacks from the frontlines (edited for length and clarity), with some commentary from me.”
FlexJobs Webinar Whether you’re already searching for remote jobs or you’re just thinking about it, with this webinar […]
Reposted from the NY Times By Alix Strauss March 19, 2020
How Stock up on root vegetables, watch comedies and other things you can do to stay sane.
Judith Matloff, who teaches crisis reporting at the Columbia Graduate School of Journalism, has found herself in some tight situations, like being trapped in a hotel during a civil war in Angola. The experience, she said, was dicier than, say, staying inside a New York apartment to avoid a dangerous virus, but there were some similarities, too.
Her new book, “How to Drag a Body and Other Safety Tips You Hope to Never Need,” won’t be available until May, but she recently shared some insights on surviving a lockdown.
The following interview is an edited and condensed version of the conversation.
A chapter in your book deals with how to survive in a bunker. When you wrote this, did you think New Yorkers would be in this position?
I was thinking natural disasters were on the rise, but I thought of them as being climate-related. I didn’t think about sheltering for a pandemic.
What do you predict the next two weeks will be like?
This isn’t like a tornado where you wait in the basement for it to blow over. Authorities are constantly revising and re-evaluating their responses. I think New York will do a version of what happened in California. I would be stunned if we were not allowed to walk dogs or play soccer in the park. The term “shelter” is making people alarmed. It really means not congregating in large groups. You shouldn’t be going to a party with 20 people or getting a haircut.
Have you ever had to live in a bunker?
I was holed up in a hotel in the early 1990s in Angola, south Africa, for a couple of weeks. There was a civil war. We didn’t have running water. We couldn’t go outside. My only link to the outside world was a satellite phone and it blew up after an electrical surge.
The other time I was stuck in a mountaintop in Colombia, researching a book. The only way in and out was via helicopter. I was sharing a small space with a bunch of soldiers. I was there for a few days with bad army food. The smell was disgusting and the space was claustrophobic.
Do you believe in maintaining a daily routine?
Absolutely. You want a sense of control over your life and a routine helps you with that. If you have a set schedule you have targets to move toward. For people who are not used to working at home, a lack of structure can be confusing.
Right now, what does your day consist of?
We wake up, shower, get dressed. I don’t sit around in sweats. I want the feeling I’m ready for work. We are organized about meals, which adds to the day’s structure. And we build in some time to exercise. It gets us out of the house. We go to the park or bike. I also do something fun. Last night I did a group Zoom call with friends. We all had a cocktail together. It’s cheaper than a bar. I make sure to connect with people at the end of the day and I try to go to bed at the same time. That’s very anchoring.
How important is it to keep up appearances?
It’s crucial to feel put together. If you look put together you feel more in control. If you wear jewelry or makeup, put that on each day. Dress in the same clothing you’d be wearing if you went out socially.
What’s the best way to get along with family members or roommates?
If you have enough room, create designated space for each person, the same as animals would. Eke out your own private territory. Communication is critical. It’s good for everyone to share the same routine so everyone is working on a similar clock.
What’s your best advice for those of us who live alone?
You have to maintain social contact. Develop a buddy system with people who you check in with daily and are your support system. Maybe have a friend stay with you. I have a single friend who I walk with everyday so she knows that she has guaranteed social contact at least once a day.
Do Zoom or FaceTime where you can see each other. Anything that’s visual is really important for connection. A text can be impersonal. Send around jokes or funny emails or videos. A way to break isolation is to do something altruistic for someone else, like an elderly person in your building. Check up on them, maybe see if they need anything. That social connection makes you feel less cut off.
What are the signs of cabin fever? What can you do about it?
Feeling panic, antsy, claustrophobic. That’s when you have to leave the house and take a walk around the block. Or take deep breaths through the nose and then let it out slowly. Call a friend; share how you’re feeling. Cut down on your news consumption.
What is some personal advice you can share?
Be careful not to binge TV because that can be an escape. If certain people are making you anxious, take a step back from them. Humor is important. Watch funny movies, it’s a nice way to round out the day.
Is there a positive side to this?
This might revolutionize the American workplace.
If you’ve always wanted to work off-site, when things go back to normal, you could ask your boss about continuing to do so.
This could teach you to be more adaptive and creative, and you might discover new interests as you try to fight the boredom. Reconnecting and turning to families, I think, is very positive. This is also teaching us to think about what really matters.
In the wake of the coronavirus and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommendation for businesses to consider “social containment” strategies, more and more companies are shifting to telework (i.e., work from home). Here are six tips to consider as you shift to a remote-first work culture.
TIP #1: Get 3 Agreements
The most important thing you need to do as a remote team leader is to get agreement (i.e., set expectations) on three things. People feel far away from each not because of the number of physical miles, but rather by the amount of time—the delay—it takes to get answer from someone. People feel “close” when communication is predictable—not necessarily fast, just predictable.
So the three agreements are:
What are the normal working hours for the team? When will the workday begin, and when will it end?
How long will it take to get back to each other? If we reach out with a question, should I expect an answer immediately? Within an hour? By the end of the day? And will this change based on communication channel? Is it OK to respond to internal emails by the end of the day, but if I call you it means it’s urgent and you should pick or call me back as soon as possible?
How will we notify each other when will be unavailable and unable to meet these expectations (e.g., out at a doctor’s appointment)? Will we just let the boss know? Or do we send a team email? Or use a shared calendar?
TIP #2: Establish a Cadence of Communication
As goes communication, goes the team. This is true on all teams, but is especially important when leading a remote team. A cadence we use at LEADx—and one that has worked for my previous companies over the years—has three components:Today In: Careers
Weekly one-on-one meetings. On my calendar “Mondays Are For Meetings” and every direct report has 30-minutes with me to build our relationship, ask questions, give ideas, and to review priorities.
WAR meeting. A Weekly Action Review (WAR) with your direct reports should take no longer than 30-50 minutes. It’s an opportunity for everyone to share sync up on their weekly priorities, problems, and data.
End-of-Day Check-in. At the end of each day, every team member shares a list of things they completed that day. At LEADx we happen to use the software Basecamp to help us manage our projects and teams, and it automatically sends a daily reminder to report it on our completed tasks. This however could just as easily be done via email.
“Video-first” is an organizational communication strategy that places priority on video conferencing tools, as opposed to audio-only conference calls. Whether having a one-on-one meeting or a team meeting, the benefits of video-first practice include:
Ability to use and observe non-verbal communication
Encourages people to participate in meetings from a professional, quiet location (as opposed to just dialing-in-and-muting while driving in the car)
Encourages people to get dressed in the morning!
TIP #4: Keep It Personal
Relationships at work are critical to a high performing team. The classic Gallup Q12 survey item, “I have a best friend at work” illustrates the power of workplace friendships on employee engagement. And personal relationships go a long way to building trust and reducing unproductive conflict. In a traditional office, water cooler chitchat and lunch time conversation happens naturally. Here are some practical tips for keeping remote teams fun and personal:
Use the first few minutes of your one-on-one meetings to ask about their weekend, or similar personal interest.
At the beginning of your weekly WAR meeting have everyone spend 20-30 seconds sharing, “what was the best part of your weekend?” Or, “what’s going on good in your world these days?”
Create an online area (e.g., Slack channel, Basecamp chat, etc.) to discuss things like sports, movies, or even a monthly online book club.
Create an online area, or group email, where people can share photos of their pets, or from recent vacations, holidays, or other events
Don’t forget to recognize team members for their effort and achievements. Share to the whole team positive feedback from customers, or internal customers.
TIP #5: Invest (a Little) In Tools & Tech
Any workplace can survive a one or two-week work-from-home experiment; it’s not much different than an employee taking a vacation or sick time. But if you expect your team members to work for several months and keep their normal productivity, then you should be prepared to make at least a minimal investment in hardware and software. Consider:
The basics: high speed WiFi, good ergonomic chair, external keyboard, mouse, and monitor for their laptop or tablet.
Great leaders individualize their approach to leadership and take the time to truly understand what motivates and challenges each team member. Using any of the popular behavioral assessments you can understand who on your team might have an easier or harder time with a work from home situation.
Everything DiSC—your team members who have primarily an Influence or Steadiness style are more social than others and may miss the daily interpersonal connections that happen in an office. Your Dominant team members, while needing less social interaction, might struggle with productivity without the structure of the office. Your Conscientious types will make the transition most easily.
EQ-I 2.0—Using the Emotional Quotient Inventory you may want to provide extra assistance to those who are lower on the scales of impulse control, flexibility, and stress tolerance.
CliftonStrengths (formerly Clifton StrengthsFinder)—those on your team who have strengths from the Relationship Building domain (e.g., connectedness, developer, includer, relator) may need extra support while working alone remotely. Your team members who have strengths primarily from the Executing domain (e.g., discipline, focus, responsibility, achiever) will likely make the transition with little trouble.
Advantages of Adapting to Remote Management
The good news about adapting to the remote workforce? You’re adopting a trend employees already favor. In an International Workplace Group survey, 74 percent of respondents described flexible working as “the new normal.” Further, “80 percent of workers in the U.S. would choose a job which offered flexible working over a job that didn’t.”
So, while you can and should hope that the coronavirus is curtailed, remote workers are a new reality. No matter the health crisis, you can be sure that in the long-term you’re going to need to know how to effectively lead remote employees.
Kevin Kruse is the CEO of LEADx. LEADx offers its video training program, How To Manage Remote Employees, at no cost, to help leaders in this difficult time. Organizations are free to distribute this 30-minute video program to all of their employees, without restrictions.