However these advantages came at a cost including...
- the lack of focus as we grappled with other things on the screen we were looking at that were vying for our attention in addition to pets, significant others and kids,
- diminished communication as we multi-tasked and,
- weakened relationships since important signals that one got when one was physically with others from side-bar conversations, glances, and human connection would be lost.
5 Ways to Work from Home Without Sacrificing Relationships
Studying best practices of remote work as well as my own experience in managing distributed global teams here are five ways to leverage the benefits of modern work from home or anywhere technology while minimizing the loss of focus, communication and relationships.
- Be Human and acknowledge that all of us are grappling with anxiety, fear and uncertainty: We are anxious about our health and those of our loved ones and team members. We are fearful about the future of our finances, our jobs and our society. We are gripped with uncertainty since every day brings new changes and challenges and uncharted territory and unclear timelines.
These emotions have made all the downsides of remote working particularly acute. We have trouble focusing when the headlines warn of doom and our kids are not at school. It is harder to communicate about business when while it is critical it seems so secondary to the challenges we face and with no in-person contact relationships can weaken.
- Communicate constantly with at least one weekly scheduled interaction that people can count on happening in these uncertain times: Make sure you connect with your teams and organizations at least once a week if not more often. People fill vacuum with speculation and in these difficult times silence is chilling. At Publicis the CEO addresses all 80,000 people every weekend that is both realistic and inspiring. Ensure there are many channels and ways for people to not feel isolated
- Augment business meetings with personal conversations: Whether you have a team meeting, or a one on one meeting take time when the business discussions end to move to conversation or schedule time to have a non-work conversation.
The simple best way to do this is to reach out to every one of your immediate reports and colleagues with a simple question. How can I help?
These interactions which we would have over lunch or in the hallway or just hanging out are critically important to both the conduct of business and our souls. Please make time for them.
- Focus on the five key traits of leadership in every conversation and communication: My research and four decades of experience have indicated that the best leaders display five traits one of which is capability and the other four (integrity, empathy, vulnerability and inspiration) are emotional.
Capability: This is when you breathe deeply and become the leader, team member and employee you are. This is the foundry, furnace and fulcrum that you will be forged in! All your talk of working under pressure, the values and purpose of the company etc. will be tested now.
Integrity: Make sure that you be truthful including that you do not know the answer and cannot predict outcomes for the business or people’s roles and jobs.
Empathy: Recognize that each person you are interacting with has their own special challenges.
Vulnerability: share your own worries and concerns as Jeff Bezos of Amazon and Satya Nadella of Microsoft did with their organizations this weekend.
Inspiration: Try to as much as possible at the end of every conversation during these difficult times to leave people with energy, belief and hope. This too will pass even though it will not be easy. If you read the Microsoft and Amazon notes it will leave you inspired.
- Leverage Art and Storytelling: The French philosopher Blaise Pascal noted that we choose with our hearts and use numbers to justify what we just did. Joan Didion the essayist has written that we tell stories in order to live. Like never before is art and storytelling important. This is true for all of us in the media and adtech space who may be more comfortable with data and facts. We need to share heroic stories of our doctors and critical workers who are risking everything and of companies and leaders who are rising to the occasion. We should use humor and You Tube videos to help us tell stories. Art has helped inspire, heal, frame and connect us to ourselves and each other. Read books. Watch great movies and not just CNN.
Our current challenges will be overcome.
Till then stay safe and be human.