Coronavirus and How to Optimize Online Work
The current crisis of Covid-19 is affecting people and companies; furthermore, it will affect the way that we conduct future businesses. The business landscape is changing dramatically; it is creating new opportunities and ways of working that we should all embrace.
Some great companies, with strong balance sheets, will emerge more robust than ever. We will, for sure, experiment concentration of power across sectors. The smaller agile and lean businesses might survive just well. Face-to-face service-oriented companies are suffering, and we will see large and mid-sized companies with weak balance sheets disappear.
During times of crisis, you should not panic. I am a believer that we should prepare for the worst but expect the best. What if the current Work from Home experience works well for companies and people? It can change the way of working from now on.
I am a global ambassador and coach at OpenExO, a community with the purpose of “Transforming the World for a Better Future.” We are more than 3,600 virtual consultants and coaches around the world, working from co-working spaces, coffee shops, airports, trains, homes, etc.
In a couple of weeks, we created and launched the ExO World Conference, a completely live, online, and interactive three-day transformative conference occurring April 14 till 16, 2020.
Additionally, during the week of March 16, three hundred of us worked together in the global ExO Challenge COVID-19. We created more than 20 exponential solutions to problems originated by the current pandemic. There are several remote teams already working on implementing their ideas, and we can’t wait to see the next steps! This experiment was designed, created, and executed online in record time by people around the world working synchronously and asynchronously within a 24-hour schedule each day.
Much like Openexo, many other organizations used to online and remote work are moving forward, adjusting their plans. Others are embracing and learning about the work from home experience and will soon be able to adapt. Sadly, either not everyone around the world will have the same resources to accommodate fast to online work or will not readily accept the change; unfortunately, they will become laggards.
I spend a considerable portion of my time working from home as an entrepreneur, advisor, and coach. During my experience with global corporations, I took my first training to operate and manage remote virtual teams in 2002 and have worked many years with regional and global organizations.
This week, reflecting on what is going on with the Coronavirus, I revised my experiences from working online with digital tools and people around the world. I decided to share some simple tips that I have found useful and vital to working and collaborating effectively online.
- You don’t need to know how to use every productivity application out there, but you should at least become familiar with the communication and social apps that make a good fit for the team. I am a heavy user of Zoom, Skype, WhatsApp, Discord, Slack, and Teamwork.
- When leading an online meeting, I try to be disciplined and human, demonstrating care for each of the participants is essential. I recommend starting online sessions allocating time to share feelings and things that are competing for attention. Facilitate but leave room for serendipity.
- Differentiate your governance meetings to manage the business of the business from your tactical meetings to move projects forward.
- Prepare the meeting’s agenda ahead and allocate extra time for technology mismatches and confusion, as we joke at the EXO’s community, “AI is easier than AV.”
- Encourage every participant to engage, call people by name and let them know that it is ok to say “pass” if they prefer not to respond. It is an excellent practice to coordinate with small groups; I find 5-6 people an ideal size for an online SWAP team.
- Keep your cameras on and energize the conversation by using facial expressions, hand gestures, smiles, and direct eye contact with the camera. Encourage questions and comments in the chat to keep everyone engaged.
- Ask people if they are ok recording the video calls so others who could not participate can watch and catch up offline. This practice allows everyone to come back to review the discussions and conclusions.
- Collaborate on shared files while on video, I used GDrive and OneDrive. It is useful to get the job done and to keep people engaged.
- Follow up with people after the sessions and gain feedback to make it better next time. In addition to the official meetings, we adopted “water-coolers”, informal voluntary meetings during the week for team members to discuss any topic.
- Get buy-in from everyone on decisions and make them explicit. If the team is not in agreement with the changes, the process will fail.
Humanity has a fantastic future ahead. This pandemic will increase the momentum to transform many institutions. This moment is not only about finding ways to survive in the current reality, but it is also an opportunity to build a 10x better world!
Feel free to add any tips that have helped you work and collaborate effectively online!