Tag Archives: management

6 Tips for Working From Home Amidst the COVID-19 (Corona) Virus Outbreak

6 Tips for Working From Home Amidst the COVID-19 (Corona) Virus Outbreak
By Paula T. Edgar 
March 18, 2020

The impact of the COVID-19 (Corona) Virus on our global community has been vast and created many challenges. One significant challenge that many people are dealing with is the recommended social isolation to “flatten the curve”. People are being encouraged or mandated to work remotely from home instead of commuting to work and school. As everyone adjusts to this new short-term normal, I am sharing some tips and best practices that make working from home productive, using the acronym CORONA (sorry).

C– Communication

O– Own your space

R – Remember you are working

O – Only do the task at hand

N – Notify stakeholders

A – Anticipate distractions

Communication

Phone Calls and Video Calls

  • Maintaining contact with colleagues, clients, and/or professors while working remotely is important to foster greater engagement, accountability, and trust.
  • When we are communicating via phone calls or emails, we cannot read people’s intentions or frustrations and it can challenge communication, especially when working with remote teams. In addition to phone calls, I recommend scheduling video conferences to connect with others. Video calls help to maintain human connection visually through seeing others’ eyes and facial expressions.
  • In some cases, managers do not trust that their employees will be productive when they are working remotely, so it is necessary to set up consistent/scheduled meetings, (via video call if possible) to set expectations and timelines and to check in on projects and deliverables.

Email

  • Most of our communication happens via email. It’s important to make sure when crafting emails to be personable instead of just getting to the point, to check in with people, have pleasantries at the beginning of communication, and also to close out with something thoughtful so people feel heard, even via email.
  • During the current situation, it’s even more important than usual to focus on specifics when drafting communication (use bullet points) and to keep emails short and concise, communication so that your correspondence does not add to the overwhelming amount of information that people are receiving.

Social Media

Social media communication and content can sometimes be a distraction, but it can also be an effective way of staying in real-time contact with your colleagues to combat the effects of social isolation. Apps like Slack, WhatsApp, and Group Me are helpful to maintain the human connection with your professional, personal, and school networks.

Own Your Space

Organize your workspace

  • Most people’s normal workspace is within an office setting, and they may not have an office at home. During this time of working remotely, it is beneficial to create a dedicated workspace, if possible.
  • Having a dedicated workspace helps your environment to be “work like” and puts you in a work mindset. One issue with people working from home is that their space might be too comfortable and can prevent them from getting and staying in the right mindset to be “on” and productive.
  • Having a dedicated workspace can also make your participation in video calls appear more professional.

Dress the Part

  • When working from home, it is very enticing to want to stay as comfortable as possible (i.e. pajamas), however changing into business casual dress (emphasis on casual) is a good compromise for a home setting, especially when communicating via video call.
  • Dressing the part also helps you to shift to work mode mentally, which can beneficially impact your work productivity.

Remember You Are Working 

  • When working remotely, it is important to follow your typical work schedule as much as possible, so that you can be available for your colleagues and clients. Sticking to your normal workday routine can also help to put and keep you in the work mindset.
  • Start your workday off with a to-do list of what you want to accomplish, to hold yourself accountable.
  • Do whatever you have to do to be prepared to start your workday. Have your phone and laptop charged so you don’t have any tech issues and can start immediately.

Only Do the Task At Hand

  • Studies show that employees can be more productive when working from home because it allows for a flexible schedule, however attempting to multitask has been shown to be ineffective.
  • While adhering to set office work schedules is a best practice for collaborative work, this is sometimes not when people are most productive. Working from home allows you the option to be more in control of your projects and to work when you are in the right frame of mind, but remember, don’t multitask!
  • I use and highly recommend the Pomodoro Technique, a time management method that allows you to be more productive by getting work done in small chunks with small breaks.
    • 20 mins work on one task – no distractions (phone on silent, no checking emails or social media)
    • 10 mins break
    • 20 mins on a new task or the same task
    • Repeat

This method is very effective for getting assignments done because 20 minutes is digestible and easy to manage (in both thought and action).

Notify Stakeholders

  • On a daily basis, in order to counteract the perception that you may be less productive while working from home, it may be helpful to send a brief end-of-day synopsis of what you have accomplished to your manager or team. (“Here’s what I got done, and here’s what I will get done tomorrow”)
  • Everyone has different communication and management styles and also different preferences for when and how they want to be updated. Manage up by anticipating any potential requests and by being proactive. A best practice is to affirmatively check-in with your manager in order to facilitate better communication, rather than waiting for them to check-in with you.

Anticipate Distractions

  • When working from home, there are lots of distractions – your bed, family members, tv, pets, etc. It’s important to know when you are most productive or when you will have the least amount of distractions and schedule your project time or conference calls around those times.
  • Talk to others in your home in advance to let them know when you’re working and should not be disturbed.
  • At the start of any conference or video calls, give the other attendees a heads-up by letting them know that you are working from home and that distractions may occur.
  • Use the mute button when you are not speaking to prevent attendees from hearing any distracting sounds during calls.
  • Instead of trying to hide your personal circumstances, be real and authentic about your situation so your colleagues can understand and empathize. 

In Closing

As a reminder, when done properly by incorporating the resources and tips above, working from home can be productive and mitigate some of the stress we are going through in this time of on-going change.

Be well, stay safe, and wash your hands!

Paula T. Edgar, Esq.
Partner
Inclusion Strategy Solutions LLC
Paula@InclusionStrategy.com
www.InclusionStrategy.com

 

 

10 Inclusive Management Best Practices for Remote Teams

10 Inclusive Management Best Practices for Remote Teams

March 12, 2020

The challenge of inclusive management is even more critical when teams must function remotely. Each year, more and more employees work remotely at least part of the time. Right now, many organizations across the globe are closing for two weeks or more to stem the spread of the COVID-19 virus. There are also many employees who are being quarantined during this time. The stress of frequent news of quarantines and death can deteriorate the productivity and working relationships of teams.

Here are 10 best practices that you can implement to help to maximize your team’s potential and minimize your stress as a manager during this time:

  1. Updates: Make sure that everyone on the team is updated (at the same time) about any decisions surrounding the COVID-19 that your organization makes. This will reassure staff that they are ‘in the loop’ and decrease their anxiety.
  2. Video Meetings: Conduct meetings via video conference, not just audio. This will contribute to the team’s sense of being connected. Also, people will be more motivated to get up and dressed for a video meeting than they would for a conference call. (Which will contribute to their well-being!)
  3. Team Meetings: Even if it has not been your practice in the past, have team meetings at least once each week during this crisis. This will help everyone to connect and reinforce teammates supporting each other.
  4. Check-Ins: Have daily check-ins with every team member. This can be a video call as short as 2 minutes, but this investment of your will be time well-rewarded with engaged and motivated team members.
  5. Time Management: Schedule times for email check-ins, calls, and video conferences as much as possible. You will find that your team may be even more productive than usual without interruptions and knowing when to expect communication. They will spend less time checking email and more time finishing a project!
  6. Impact: The impact of stress, especially prolonged stress affects each of us differently. Be mindful of the impact of this crisis on members of your team: some may be sleep deprived or social media over-dosed; others may be dealing with anxiety in silence.
  7. Social Distancing: Depending on the personality of each of your team members, social distancing will affect each of them differently. For some, this time will be a relief from social pressures. For others, this will be a severe challenge. Acknowledge that each of us responds to social interaction differently.
  8. Offer Support: Your staff may not be members of a high-risk group, but their family members, partners, neighbors, and friends may be. Ask your team members (privately) if they need to take FMLA, work flextime, or get counseling during the crisis.
  9. Give Positive Feedback: Let your team members and your leadership know how your team is going above and beyond to keep things running during this very challenging time. Giving your team members kudos now will be appreciated for a long time to come.
  10. Practice Self Care: It is always challenging to successfully manage teams, but even more so during a crisis. You need to make sure that you are taking care of yourself so that you can take better care of others. Eat, sleep, take a walk in the park, find ways to vent, watch a funny movie, and spend time with those you love.

No one strategy will magically make you the world’s most inclusive leader or make this crisis disappear, but the 10 strategies outlined above will help you to manage more inclusively and minimize the long-term impact on your team.

We hope that you stay healthy, productive and inclusive while we make it through this crisis together.

Onward!

Wendy Amengual Wark
Partner
Inclusion Strategy Solutions LLC

Wendy@InclusionStrategy.com
www.InclusionStrategy.com

 

Announcing Inclusion Strategy Solutions LLC!

January 14, 2019

Dear Friends and Colleagues,

As we embark upon a new year, we wish you and yours all things wonderful!

2018 was an incredible year! Most exciting was the formation of Inclusion Strategy Solutions LLC – our partnership! (Learn more about Paula and Wendy) We recognize that our skills and competencies are enhanced through our collaboration.  Merging our organizations has provided our clients with a greater depth and range of services. Most importantly, our personal missions and visions align and result in greater innovation and impact on diversity, equity, and inclusion in our world!

We are happy to share with you, some highlights of our 2018 accomplishments: 
During 2018, we trained over 3,000 individuals in subjects including: Sexual Harassment Prevention (as New York State and other jurisdictions enacted stricter training requirements for employers), Inclusive Workplace and Leadership (Unconscious Bias), and Anti-Racism. The content for these sessions was developed in collaboration with our clients to meet the specific needs and challenges of their organizations. We also developed content to satisfy New York State Bar diversity, inclusion, and the elimination of bias CLE requirements.

We supported our clients with developing diversity, equity, and inclusion initiatives, and strategies and supporting their EEO and HR needs by conducting investigations, facilitating counsel and advise sessions, and advising leadership on best practices.

In our work as diversity, equity, and inclusion consultants, we had the opportunity to travel to Athens, Greece as well as more than 10 US States to facilitate workshops and consult on various subjects. The myriad perspectives across global and regional environments create exciting opportunities for exploring the complexities and nuances of this work.

We’re excited to continue to enhance our opportunities to learn while engaging with a diverse array of people during this new year.

We look forward to the opportunity to support your organization and collaborate with you on your inclusion strategies!

Please visit our new website: Inclusion Strategy.com and let us know what you think. We would love to hear from you.

Sincerely,

Wendy and Paula

Wendy Amengual Wark: Wendy@InclusionStrategy.com

Paula T. Edgar, Esq.: Paula@InclusionStrategy.com

 

Resistance!

Resistance! magnets

There is resistance in weight training, resistance in electricity, resistance in magnetic fields (thinking of Leonard Nimoy today!), and resistance when it comes to diversity and inclusion.  D&I practitioners have  been trying to figure out how to overcome this resistance for decades and now, in 2015, resistance to inclusion seems to be stronger than ever.  So, how do we deal with people, especially those in leadership and management positions, who resist including others who are different from themselves in whatever it is that they are leading or managing?

Accepting Resistance

The first thing that we need to do is accept the fact that there is resistance to diversity and inclusion.  This has nothing to do with how you might feel about that resistance. Neither does it have anything to do with you.  Those who resist diversity and inclusion may do so for a single reason or a complex variety of reasons.  Perhaps they are afraid of change.  Perhaps they are afraid of difference. There are many causes for such fears, but acknowledging the existence of fear in people is the first step toward ameliorating it. I do not recommend that diversity practitioners begin calling in psychoanalysts for every manager and leader in their organization who resists diversity and inclusion.  I do suggest that we need to understand the history of racism, sexism, Islamophobia, homophobia, and other fears and hatreds of groups of people if we hope to create inclusion in the workplace or anywhere else.

What’s In A Word?

If people cringe every time we use the word diversity or the word inclusion, might we find other words that help us to diminish resistance and achieve our goals of creating sustainable inclusion?  What words are acceptable or even embraced by leaders and managers?  Development, succession planning, return on investment (ROI), value-added, are all words and phrases used in the business world.  Use this vocabulary to create successful and sustainable D&I initiatives.  Diversity will be woven into the fabric of the initiative when you intentionally include your hidden high potentials and others who have not traditionally been invited to the table. ERGs (Employee Resource Groups) should sponsor community activities that expand your market share and fulfill your corporate responsibility, hence establishing an ROI for executives who want to see more than a woman’s history month luncheon result from their investment in the women’s ERG. 

Creating Curiosity

Launching a pilot initiative that uses an intriguing vocabulary will create curiosity in ambitious people.  Whether it is a mentoring pilot with a small group of mentors and protégés as part of your overall succession planning / employee development plan or a leadership think tank where brilliant ideas are exchanged in a safe environment, those who were not invited to participate will be curious about the endeavor.  Promote the initiative.  Let all of your employees know what you are ‘piloting’.  Keep them apprised of the progress of your pilot program.  Then, if you decide to make mentoring a part of your organizational culture, you will have created sufficient curiosity to have more applicants than spots for protégés.  That is a great formula for success!

What’s Their Mission?

Do you know your organization’s mission?  I have shared mine with you before:  To make manifest the value of all people.  If you do not know your organization’s mission – really know it – then stop reading my blog and go and read your mission statement!  Print it out and tape it on the wall.  Study it and understand that every word of a mission statement should be there for a reason.  Does your diversity and inclusion mission (you do have one, don’t you?) support the organizational mission?  If not, tear it up and go back to the drawing board!  Each time I help an organization to define and develop its D&I mission it reminds me that the lack of a viable, articulated mission is the primary reason that D&I initiatives fail.  Trying to plug-in a diversity event, a single training session, or a new ERG will not create a successful D&I program.

If you help your leaders and managers to achieve their missions over a sustained period of time, they will be able to move from resisting to embracing inclusion.  In other words, you can flip your organization’s magnetic field so that it can live long and prosper!

If you are not diminishing resistance to diversity and inclusion in your organization isn’t today a great day to begin?

Onward!

~ Wendy

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