COVID-19 Meeting Rhythms for Working from Home Teams

The COVID-19 pandemic is creating significant disruption in all areas of business and life. To help you to find some order in the chaos and adjust to new ways of doing and being, Doctor Digital has put together a series of COVID-19 blogs with tips, tricks, hacks and suggestions for how digital and e-commerce tools can support you and your business.

Doctor Digital Says

If you haven’t already been migrated from your office to working from home, as COVID-19 infection rates increase, social distancing and isolation will mean those who can will certainly be putting an Out of Office on their usual work a day locations. Working from home can be joyful and also stressful if you aren’t used to it (check out our blogs and factsheets to help you get around it if you have just started).

One of the best ways to migrate your business culture from a bricks and mortar place to a distributed community is to establish rhythms and routines for your people early on to ensure regular connectivity. Good leadership in these times is vulnerable leadership. Empower your community to rise up and connect, tell you what they need and support each other. Gaps and problems in your culture will be highlighted in a remote circumstance, so keep vigilant and have an open and supportive culture to recognise that you won’t get things right all the time, so you need to be agile, experimental, curious and open to trying.

You may come from a workplace where you have a lot of meetings, or where meetings are chats in passing or random events. When bringing together a newly distributed culture of remote workers, start each day with a quick meeting to connect, find out what is happening, anything that needs flagging, and any roadblocks or wins. Make it at a set time every day, and make it compulsory, not because you are in control and command, but because it is important to have this time together every day to build trust and community.

Set a meeting agenda and stick to it. It could be a simple round up of how each person is, their focus for the day, any roadblocks and what they are grateful for, just a succinct couple of minutes each. This isn’t the meeting for long discussions or problem solving, its only job is to remind each other of their humanity and what the day ahead looks like. If other issues come up, they can be taken offline for further discussion with relevant staff.

If you have a small team or everyone is involved in everything, you can have every meeting as an all-hands where everyone is in the call. If you have distinct teams, set up a regular meeting for each team/project to discuss longer issues and projects. This should be about an hour (definitely no longer if using video), and also have a clear structured agenda of what gets done. If there is nothing to discuss make it super short, but there will rarely be nothing to discuss. How often you have that meeting would depend on how many projects are being run, what level of pace the business is needing to respond to things, but usually once or twice a week. The discipline is in the doing, not having people be too busy to commit to the time.

Once a week there should be an all hands meeting to communicate whole of business issues, directions, praise, progress updates from teams, anything that is relevant but doesn’t fit in the teams or project meetings. These meetings also need to be timed, run to an agenda, but have a social and wellness element from management, this is where all the crucial comms can be done so everyone is on the same page, at the same meeting.

In the beginning establishing consistency is crucial, especially with everyone trying to work out how this whole working from home thing is going to work. Respecting people’s time and keeping the meetings on time and to agenda is important. Acknowledging when things are hard, checking in and being attuned to the spoken and unspoken stuff will be critical in helping people transition, and for everyone to be checking in with their peers. Over time you may be able to reduce the frequency, but you may also increase it to include other social activities such as exercise, meditation, wellness, lunch and learn, happy hour, book club and other community actions. Empower all staff to take turns to lead the meetings and to be comfortable being in that role, who knows, when COVID-19 is over you may have a whole new culture and way of being you never knew was possible.

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