Surviving and Thriving in a Coronavirus Environment

blog 1 - Surviving and Thriving in a Coronavirus Environment

Almost daily you read about conferences being cancelled, corporate travel restrictions and staff being told to work from home or offsite. It’s a wonder how businesses can survive and thrive under these conditions?

The challenges posed by the latest outbreak highlight why you need to put in place strategies that will keep your business running and able to respond to clients and suppliers.

According to Saikat Chatterjee, Senior Director, Advisory at Gartner, “We’re being forced into the world’s largest work-from-home experiment and, so far, it hasn’t been easy for a lot of organizations to implement.”

Understanding and having a strategy in place to can make all the difference between a mild inconvenience and having a catastrophic impact.

So, how do companies adapt to this new reality and deliver the
same high-quality work, build trusted relationships that they did when going to the office every day or meeting clients at conferences or trade shows?

It doesn’t just happen! It all starts with knowing the eight essential strategies to maintain productivity and teamwork while working remotely.

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One of the most important aspects of any team is resilience – the ability to overcome setbacks even with the sudden need to work in a
remote or virtual environment.

That’s because working remotely can be enormously efficient, productive and cost-effective – when done correctly. That challenge
for managers and owners often comes down to failing to adapt communication strategies for the remote or virtual environment, leading to common (but easily avoidable) issues such as:

  • Feelings of isolation
  • Frequent miscommunication
  • Low engagement
  • Missed deadlines

The lesson?

Address issues immediately- resolving problems as they happen is the way that teams survive—and thrive especially in times of crisis.

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Multitasking. Everybody does it, nobody does it well, and it can even be harmful to your team’s productivity. In fact, worldwide, multitasking costs corporations $450 billion per year.

Online and conference call meetings are notorious for having team members answer emails, surf the web, or simply perform their day-to-day work instead of giving 100% of their attention to the discussion at hand. Beyond being  disrespectful to the rest of the
team, switching between tasks causes:

  • Productivity to drop by as much as 40%
  • More frequent errors, especially where critical thought is involved
  • Higher stress
  • Increased health risk, including elevated heart rate (University
    of California Irvine)

The lesson?

Focus on one task at a time.

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One recent study of engineering groups showed that the best predictor of success for managers of virtual teams is prior experience.

Unfortunately, the coronavirus outbreak has resulted in an explosion of virtual and remote teams with managers who have not received any preparation to operate at peak efficiency without daily face-to-face contact. Even in companies where remote or virtual teams are created deliberately, only 15% of managers rate themselves as very effective and just 53% as moderately effective.

The lesson?

Managers– especially ones recently created out of necessity due to the coronavirus – should invest in training to increase their knowledge and skills for leadership in the remote and virtual environment.

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What is the greatest fear of the remote or virtual worker? Being forgotten and ignored by their managers, leading to five key consequences:

  • Workers do not have an opportunity to grow and develop their skills.
  • They feel left out of the loop.
  • They do not learn company updates at the same time as their colleagues.
  • Their accomplishments go unnoticed and unappreciated.
  • Their career paths within the organization become limited.

Virtual workers who suffer these consequences participate less, which only worsens their sense of status and well-being. In fact, 80% of virtual team members find that working remote or virtually is more difficult than in person.

Great managers will find ways to make sure their team members are well integrated, well-informed, and appreciated for their contributions.

The lesson?

Take proactive action to make sure your team members feel included and valued.

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Role ambiguity is one of the greatest sources of stress for leaders and members of teams. Leaders cannot achieve effective team  performance without clearly defined goals and roles, and yet when working remotely or virtually, it is shockingly easy for misunderstandings
and confusion to creep in.

The role of the team leader is to implement structured processes, well-defined goals, and clear accountabilities for each team member. The result of poorly communicated goals and roles is a higher frequency of misunderstanding, lower levels of coordination, missed productivity benchmarks, and higher costs.

The lesson?

Take the time to reinforce roles and responsibilities when working virtually.

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Trust is the foundation of a high-functioning team, virtual or otherwise – it’s the glue that holds the team together.

Unfortunately, it takes four times as long for remote or virtual teams to build trust compared to their in-person counterparts. In fact, only
50% of remote employees report success at building trusted relationships with their fellow team members, and 52% cite managing conflict as one of the biggest issues they face.

The lesson?

Check in with team members more frequently than you would in person, making sure they understand their role and have the support they need to succeed.

blog8 - Surviving and Thriving in a Coronavirus Environment

Remote or virtual workers are at higher risk of fatigue and exhaustion not only because they are more likely to “make up for” not being seen at work by working longer hours but because of the impact the Covid-19 virus is having on them and their workforce.

The lesson?

Check in with team members more frequently than you would in person, making sure they understand their role and have the support they need to succeed.

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When working remotely, it’s important to use all the communication tools at your disposal – especially when basic communication tools
like eye contact and body language are at a minimum! 

All web conferencing platforms include annotation and feedback tools to enhance your team’s long-distance collaboration.

The lesson?

Make sure to learn about the communication tools available to you. The small amount of time you invest here will save your team hours
of miscommunication and frustration in the long run!

blog10 - Surviving and Thriving in a Coronavirus Environment
By : Claire Sookman /March 10, 2020 /Uncategorized /0 Comment Read More

7 Microsoft Teams Secrets to Maximize Your Team’s Performance

telecommute 1 - 7 Microsoft Teams Secrets to Maximize Your Team’s Performance

7 Microsoft Teams Secrets to Maximize Your Team’s Performance

Microsoft Teams launched in March 2017 and is already one of the most successful virtual team collaboration tools in the world. It boasts 13 million users globally, and odds are, you’re one of them.

Odds also are that you, like many users, have barely scratched the surface of what this powerful platform can do. How it can enhance long-distance collaboration and productivity. The ways it can make communicating at a distance feel as instant and intuitive as working side-by-side.

Here are 7 Microsoft Teams secrets to maximize your team’s performance:

/Commands for Intuitive Actions

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Type “/” in the main field at the top of your screen to unlock powerful shortcuts that save time and effort every day. Even better, these shortcuts reduce mental load and keep your team focused on the work that truly matters.

Great Microsoft Teams /commands include:

  • /goto (go straight into a group or channel)
  • /last (jump to your last spot)
  • /keys (see all keyboard shortcuts)
  • /activity (see a team member’s activity)

@Mentions for Quick Messaging

Need to message someone in a hurry? No need to pull up a dedicated messenger window. Just click in the search bar, type “@” followed by the person’s name, enter your message, and send.


Similar to /commands, Microsoft Teams @mentions make it faster and more intuitive to do what you need to in as few clicks as possible, mimicking the ease and simplicity of working side by side.


Blur Your Background, Keep Their Focus

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Video chats are great for increasing face-to-face interaction, but nobody on the call needs to be distracted by the busy coffee shop, your (adorable) children, or whatever else is going on behind you.

That’s why Microsoft Teams allows you to blur the background, putting the camera’s focus firmly on person, not distractions in the environment.

Just click the three dots on the call menu and select Blur My Background to activate this handy feature.


Ask the Who Bot

Looking up simple pieces of information can take up a surprising amount of time and break your concentration. Fortunately, the Who bot is here to help.

Microsoft Teams’ smart personal assistant helps find the information your team members need quickly. The result? More productivity, less getting bogged down in research.

Great questions include:

  • Who is an authority on [topic]
  • Who is [person]’s manager?
  • Who was in the meeting about [topic]?

Click More Apps in the left sidebar to access the Who bot.


Praise Prompts

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Virtual managers know that encouragement is essential to building strong, trusted relationships – particularly in the virtual environment.

Microsoft Teams helps them do this with its Praise function. Simply click the three dots at the bottom of a message box for that employee and click Praise.

Managers can select a unique badge of appreciation to give to their employee, which will be displayed beside their name in public channels.


Rich Text Editing

Messaging on Teams allows text formatting like bold, italics, colors, highlighting, emojis, and more.

Much like in an email, team members can easily add emphasis to their text messaging, helping the key points and intended tone stand out. Further, adding a little flair to online chats helps make them more personal, fostering stronger team relationships.

Click the Format button at the bottom of your chat window, and More Formatting Options for a extra items like file attachments.


Save Messages or Bookmarks

Need to remember a key point someone raised in a chat or conversation? No more need to open a notes window. Simply click the sash (or ribbon) icon at the top right of the speech bubble to save the message for future reference.

To see your saved messages, click your profile picture in the top right and click ‘saved’, or just type “/saved” (another /command!) into the Microsoft Teams search bar.

Microsoft teams can be a powerful ally in helping your virtual team get the most out of its workday. These tips just scratch the surface of what Teams can do for your organization. 

By : Nipun Trivedi /February 05, 2020 /Uncategorized /0 Comment Read More
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