If you’re still reeling from a whirlwind week, you’re not alone. Last week started like most normal weeks until most mass events began to cancel, and we all raced to find the last available toilet paper roll at Costco.
So here we are. Let’s work remotely! The technology is there. Many of us have interacted remotely for many years. So are we ready? Now, what do we do?
Many consider this as the most significant experiment and feasibility in the history of remote work, as it seems that it will take at least 30 days for things to get somewhat back to normal.
With Coronavirus, it’s not clear how long people will be at home, which poses additional problems and new challenges for businesses who aren’t used to supporting a remote workforce or even doing the majority of their work digitally.
COVID-19 Challenging us
Working remotely is not about being tech-savvy or having the right tools. It’s about being effective as a team when we are not in the same building. It’s about achieving communication and coordination without being in front of each other. Most importantly, it’s about the clarity of expectations and accountability so we can make independent decisions and judgments.
A few years ago, I walked into our lobby and saw that a plant was drying up and dying. I asked the lady that helped us with the cleaning to help me water the plant. She did. A few weeks later, the plant was again drying up and dying. My initial request was at a task level. I asked for the plant to be watered. I did not ask someone to assume the responsibility of watering the plant and I did not ask someone to supervise the watering of the plant. Ideally, I should have skipped the specific instruction of having someone water the plant and requested someone take on the responsibility of caring for the plant. I could have become upset and argued that it should have been assumed and implied, but the onus was on me. I did not clarify my expectations of what the problem was and how I expected that problem to be solved. Explaining the expected level of problem-solving is essential under any circumstance but is critical when managing remotely.
Eventually, these tough times will pass, and we will all be free to go back to work in our offices. Hopefully, we will go back with a new way of interacting and with an increased level of collaboration that will help us be more effective and productive.