Organising and communicating remotely

Organising and communicating remotely

PUT INTO PRACTICE

I- The first reflexes

The crisis has just been identified and recognised, and the usual points of reference will quickly be disrupted if this is not already the case. Do not waste time :

. Quickly communicate a message to your team informing them of the situation. Be transparent by differentiating between information that you can share now because you have it under control, and information that you will come back to later because it is still uncertain.

. Plan a great remote meeting with your whole team the next day.  Skype, Hangout or Zoom are simple and effective remote communication tools. Attendance is mandatory for this meeting, which will allow you to communicate the same message to everyone and gather feedback from your employees.

. Before the meeting, take a step back and ask yourself the following questions: How is the situation affecting our business? What are the impacts on the team? What is your BCP: Business Continuity Plan? (see Sample Exercise). The answers to these questions will be the focus of your meeting the next day.

II- Communication in telework

First of all, it is important to define a digital and cooperative line of action and give priority to video (choose a reference tool shared by the team, like Skype, Hangout or Zoom). This will reinforce the sense of collective belonging through a stronger presence as if you were face-to-face with your teams. Choose calls rather than emails, and video calls rather than phone calls to get closer to natural interactions, and set yourself one contact per day and per employee.

It will be necessary to move from permanent informal communication to frequent and brief communication.  It is important to reassure your employees, not to adopt an alarmist tone, and to strengthen your bonds of trust by communicating frequently with them. Therefore, we advise you not to talk about the crisis but about how to behave and adapt to the situation.

Also remember to have informal exchanges, similar to the breaks you might take with the team in person. One of the pitfalls of telework communication is to only make contact on work-related matters. Thinking about keeping the business going is a normal reflex, but let's not forget that people are at the heart of management and leadership.

Internal newsletters and emails, which sometimes generate little interest, will be popular, as employees seek answers to their questions, and look for transparency and reassurance. Given the context, it is important to pass on available information and keep it up to date.

III- Professional and personal organisation

1- Be disciplined when working from home: don't work 8 hours in a row without a break because you risk burnout. Keep the same hours as when you were working in a company. Put yourself in condition, and post your schedules to your teams so that they know when you are available.

This is an excellent opportunity to ritualise your organisation and communication: have a diary where you separate management moments from moments of individual performance.

Give yourself regular breaks according to your work rhythm, to stay productive and to avoid procrastination (if you work intensively, take a short break every hour).

Take advantage of your free time (when you are on public transport) to do activities related to your passions. Your well-being is even more important in this crisis situation, as it will be contagious for your teams!

2- Have short and regular team meetings in collective intelligence where everyone shares. The more intense and changing the crisis, the more frequent these meetings will have to be. The more the organisation and everyone's activity stabilise, the more these meetings can be spaced out.

  • Start by asking how everyone is feeling, and work on delegated meeting processes.
  • Be even more present than usual, empathetic, caring and adopt a Manager-Coach posture (active listening, open questions, curiosity).
  • Put forward the objective of the meeting
  • Have a clear agenda, time for breaks, and time to work in pairs - You can also ask employees to prepare in writing before the meeting.
  • Share the organisation's guidelines as soon as you have them and your key messages. - Make it fun: be serious without taking yourself too seriously, be a 'servant leader', enthusiastic and active. For example, you can set up connected aperitifs, connected games, or a 'virtual coffee machine'.
  • Help your teams to establish a routine and be flexible
  • Feedback is even more important in this period. Positive feedback helps to reassure and comfort. Negative feedback is used to correct and improve. Value behaviours that encourage business continuity and have a positive impact on team spirit. Certain employees will prove to be decisive in this situation.

3- Organise individual 15-30 minute video meetings: every day if the crisis is severe, twice a week if your employees can be autonomous. Listen, reassure and talk about objectives. For employees who are very anxious: put them in a positive and action-oriented dynamic. Ask each employee to send you an email every Friday at the end of the day to give you the weekly activity report

4- Work closely with management and the human resources department.

5- Adopt non-violent communication techniques and encourage your teams to do the same. Communication by email does not allow for the nuances of voice and tone of voice to be conveyed. Be aware of how a message may be perceived, and how your employees express themselves to each other.

6- For those employees whose activity is impacted, keep them busy in an intelligent and constructive way. Ask employees to work on tasks that were not a priority. For example: update the database, call customers to reassure them, think about post-crisis strategies, set up online training...

7- Use a platform for regular communication such as Slack.  This is the time to open up to new practices, which could bring a lot to your team once the crisis is over.

8- Share files on Dropbox, Drive or Trello. Your employees need to know where to find the information and access it quickly.

9- Train with distance learning or offer training to your employees, or ask an employee to train others. This helps to strengthen the team spirit

EXAMPLES OF THE EXERCISES

Do a SWOT analysis :

(Strengths - Weaknesses - Opportunities - Threats)

Take stock of the current situation at the present time:

Strengths: strengths of the company or team in the situation

Weaknesses: disadvantages or limitations of the company or team in the situation

Opportunities: elements of the environment (context, change, etc.) that could be exploited Threats: elements of the environment (competition, context, etc.) that could have negative or even dangerous impacts.

Creating a Business Continuity Plan

To quickly create a clear and effective BCP, you can answer these three questions: Keep - Stop - Start

  • Keep: What is kept? What is kept from our activity/habits?

o ….

o ….

o ….

o ….

  • Stop: What do we stop doing? What activities do we put on hold? What practices/bad reflexes should be stopped?

o ….

o ….

o ….

o ….

  • Start: What are we starting to do? What new practices should be put in place? What initiatives need to be launched?

o ….

o ….

o ….

o …

You can work on this BCP from the beginning of the crisis. Involving your team in its creation will encourage them to carry it forward.