Motivating teleworking teams in times of crisis

Teleworking is not new for most of knowledge workers.

But having the entire team teleworking is a new normal. And the combination of work with spouse/partner teleworking or working in healthcare, single parenting, crying toddler – adolescent in puberty – sick parent alone – dying family member, which we are experiencing strongly these weeks – is slowly becoming a new normal. Those still able to be working during this period are happy to do so while the bells of new beginnings are ringing for all.

Setting boundaries, self-regulating and revising what and how we deliver value may not find place on the long list of high priority actions. Yet they are primordial to survive, stay resourceful and avoid burn out.

How to keep up and hold a team together in this extreme context?

Here few hints that can help:

  1. Redefine the sense of the team – invite team to an open structured conversation on how we can make the best out of the situation; draw a team chart with team norms and invite each member to add its symbolic signature (figuratively); marking the moment is very impactful.
  2. Promote creating a sense of community – caring about what works or does not work for each team member;
  3. Create enablers for shared tracking and visibility on work progress- consolidate whatever action trackers you may be using
  4. Clarify or redefine what is “meaningful work progress”- redefine priorities and performance expectations. Allow space for team members to link their activity with priorities and measure progress of meaningful work. Simple tools like Eisenhower Urgent/Important rating can help create perspective and shared sense of focus on meaningful work.
  5. Don’t rely only on memorization or “minutes of the meeting” – support your team conversations with collaborative tooling so that people can take ownership of their actions and reflect their own progress. The last thing a manager and team leader shall do now is micromanaging.
  6. Define “stop working” rules and allow the working day to have a start and finish
  7. With most of team interactions happening during virtual meeting, agree on the meeting etiquette with the team. You’ll find beneficial to avoid multitasking and thus distractions – multitasking kills performance. Put the camera on as a norm – it creates a sense of connection to a face and a voice and makes communication for effective.

All the teams that have a habit of working this way in their day to day (e.g. virtual teams), will find it to relatively easy to adjust to the “remote” proceedings.

If this is new for your team, though, encouraging trust, compassion, and collaboration comes on top of everything else. And self-regulation is a good place to start.