04/02/2020

BY AMY FREET | ANALYST

I think everyone can agree that these past few weeks have been tough. Adjusting to the new normal of social distancing, working from home (WFH), and finding little to no toilet paper at the grocery store is difficult.

As a consultant, I’m used to working remotely, so the transition to working from home hasn’t been as hard for me as it probably has been for others.

Take my dad, for example—I  spent more time on the phone with him than ever this week helping transition his three World Geography sections to virtual classrooms. As a teacher, he’s used to working with PowerPoint and email, but was totally lost in terms of Google Chat, Skype, and uploading anything to the Internet. (Side note: I still cannot get over the fact that he didn’t know what the copy and paste shortcuts were).

A similar thing happened with a client this week. I was setting up a Zoom meeting in lieu of a weekly in-person touchpoint with my stakeholders and was surprised when one of them reached out to me to say that this kind of virtual meeting would not work. He explained that if we were going to set up meetings over the phone or video, that I would need to first help walk some attendees step-by-step on how to set up an account, connect audio, and share his or her screen with others. I was once again shocked, but it made me think of how scary it must be for some people who aren’t as technologically-savvy to figure out how they were going to complete their work and meet with people during this time.

Adjusting to the new normal of social distancing, working from home, and finding little to no toilet paper at the grocery store is difficult.

Consider yourself tech savvy but still want to be effective working with people of different skills and ages? Here are a few ways you can help ease the transition to WFH with your coworkers or clients:

Utilize texting and calling

Let’s be real, these are pretty informal times. I don’t know about the rest of you, but most days I don’t change out of my pajamas.

If you have a quick question about something on a project, consider shooting a quick text to the person if you have that sort of relationship (i.e., if you have texted or called them in a business setting before). I guarantee that they will have their phone nearby and will answer it quicker than responding to an email (and keeps you from having to draft another email – yay!)

Set up technology trainings for those that need it

Offer these meetings to everyone on your team, but make them optional. For those that join, take them step-by-step of how to set up a meeting or whatever the task may be. What may seem basic or self-explanatory to you may not be that way to them. Look at tasks with a fresh set of eyes as if you have never done them before.

After the meeting, follow up individually with attendees and ask them if they need additional help that you could provide—either by another meeting, or a link, or reference guide you could send their way. This may take time, but I guarantee the coworker or stakeholder than you teach will appreciate you.

Bring fun into the meeting

If appropriate, start some of your meetings with an icebreaker question, such as “What is the craziest thing your new coworkers (i.e. children, pets, significant other) has done this week? ” or “What is the best meal you’ve cooked since WFH began?” You can find a couple of ideas for icebreakers here.

These may sound silly, but adding a bit of fun to the beginning of a meeting will add extra energy and collaboration that can make your meeting more effective.

Be patient

Everyone is dealing with adjusting to different home situations, such as feeling alone in a small apartment or feeling overwhelmed with now having to juggle work responsibilities and teaching their kids. Be patient with your manager who always seems to be late to meetings because of his kids, be patient with your teammate who can’t seem to get his dog to stop barking in the background of a call, and be patient with yourself when you feel overcome with emotions. These times are anything but normal, but we will get through them together.

During these crazy times, spend a little extra time to help those that may need your help. Just because we must keep our distance from others doesn’t mean we cannot share kindness with them!

These times are anything but normal, but we will get through them together.

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