A few weeks ago, we had a case where the GovLoop team had to meet some pretty tight deadlines for delivery on a project. When the DC area got hit by a snowstorm, our team stayed home for unscheduled telework. Our team works collaboratively, so when deadlines are tight, and we are now all thrown into a new environment, we had to refocus our internal communications so we didn’t miss a beat.
What was great was that we didn’t miss on delivering the project. There were no major hiccups, and it was just as if our research, marketing, design and business development teams were all in the office working together. I thought I’d share a few ideas of what made it work, and how you can set your team up for success when unscheduled telework might strike:
- It’s encouraged: Above all, safety is key. If you can’t make it in, don’t go into the office and follow unscheduled telework practices. Management should make it clear they support your decision, and that protocols are set and ready to go. If you’re team is reliant on public transportation, be sure to think about the commute home as well, so people don’t get stuck at the office, especially after a long commute in.
- Communications are defined: don’t wait until unscheduled telework strikes to know what to do. Have a quick meeting to run through the process of how to act if unscheduled telework should happen, and what the expectations are. If you see that weather is going to be really bad tomorrow, and think there is a shot of unscheduled telework, send something to the team the day before to alert them of potential unscheduled telework and be ready to work remote.
- Over communicate: When you’re working remote as a team, and your team does not typically telework, the dynamics change. Be sure to follow up, do check-ins and make sure that all project deliverables are on track.
- Use video: Video is always a great way to communicate rather than chat, text or email. If possible, hold meetings over video. It’s easier to collaborate, and closely replicates being in the office.
- Have clearly defined deliverables: Make sure the team knows exactly what needs to be done and when. The organic nature of how things happen in the office might go away when everyone is teleworking. Team leads should make it clear of what needs to happen, and when.
- Deliver results: One of the things that I noticed that was really impactful was just sharing around success from the team when unscheduled telework hit. It’s just a nice way to say thanks to your team for their efforts.
- It’s all about trust: You can’t wait until unscheduled telework hits to try and build trust with your team. Make it part of your management strategy to always be supporting your team, so when unscheduled telework happens, you know you can trust them to get work done.
The key for leaders is to understand that telework is just another tool to help in organizational productivity. It’s exactly the same as investing in a piece of equipment, adjusting office layout and strategies to improve morale. Telework is becoming more and more common, and people desire to work from anywhere and anytime. This means it’s time to stop treating telework like some futuristic way we work: it’s here. Now is the time for every organization to hash out their communications strategy and plan for unscheduled telework, and make sure that operations can continue seamlessly.
If you’re interested in learning more about telework, we’ve got some great resources for you to take a look at:
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