Updated: Oct 31
Today, due to the disruption by Covid-19 pandemic, businesses are facing a range of challenges of an unprecedented magnitude, whether it is reduced demand and loss of suppliers, like restaurants or overloading and shortage of equipment like healthcare systems. However, in terms of the sheer number affected individuals, the shift to remote work and consequent isolation, if poorly managed, is possibly the most significant challenge.
At the same time, while the concerns and challenges are very real and must not be minimized, it is not all a tale of doom and gloom.
First, multiple studies have shown that remote work does in fact, improve performance and productivity against individual metrics while reducing costs. When remote work is voluntarily chosen, it also improves employee retention (source).
Secondly, the shift to remote does not change the “what” of work to be done. It only changes “how” we lead people and manage work. The primary difference is that we can no longer rely on organic interactions and ad hoc leadership. We must be INTENTIONAL about every aspect of how we manage ourselves and lead our teams.
Finally, for leaders who cavil at the thought of intentionality because it “cramps their natural style,” it is worth noting that while we’d each like to believe that we are innately good, our inherent biases often result in unintentionally unfair behavior towards those we unconsciously perceive as outgroups.
Being intentional, may take some practice, but can help us function beyond our inherent biases and create a truly meritocratic workplace, virtual or otherwise.
The bottom line is that while the Covid-19 pandemic has created an unforeseen crisis replete with both complexity and change, it is also offering us an opportunity to expand our skills, develop as leaders, and build meaningful connections with people around the world in ways that we may not have imagined possible.
It is now up to each one of us to make a choice: To lead boldly into the future or retreat behind walls built by our fears.
What choice will you make?
If you have chosen to lead yourself and your team through this crisis, please read the other articles in the Navigating Crisis series where I'll share about the 5Cs to building an inclusive, high-development team, on-site or virtual.
Communicate proactively, not as an afterthought
Authentic connections, astonishing results
Competence, an unexpected path to camaraderie
Collaboration secrets of teams that thrive