Sam Bayer


Keys to COVID-19 remote work

In the wake of the growing COVID-19 pandemic, we’re seeing more and more companies asking employees to work from home. Let’s be honest: This is a tough adjustment if you’re new to remote work (or if you’ve only done it sporadically before).

At Corevist, we’ve been 100% remote ever since our founding in 2008. We’ve learned a lot in 12 years of virtual collaboration, and we’ve blogged about our experience in previous blog posts:

Now I’d like to take this a step farther and help you navigate the disorientation of remote work induced by COVID-19. Here’s our take on how to adapt to working from home so you not only survive, but thrive.

1. Intentionally forge and maintain community

Virtual collaboration isn’t just about documents, artifacts, and deliverables. It’s about people.

Unfortunately, personal connections are the first thing to go when a team transitions to the virtual model. That’s why you have to be intentional about maintaining community & relationships as you transition to remote work.

How do you do this? Here are some things which we’ve instituted at Corevist:

  • Weekly Friday meetings in which the whole team gets on a Zoom video call. We each share our Corevist Moment of the Week—a moment that’s “so Corevist,” it could only happen here. We’re specifically forbidden to work on work during this meeting. It’s about connecting and reflecting.  
  • Monthly business reviews in which we close out the previous month’s financials, give color commentary, and open up the floor to questions. 
  • Quarterly, all-hands State of the Business meetings in which we review the previous quarter and chart a course for the next quarter (and beyond).  
  • Informal “water cooler” meetings where individuals and small groups chat, catch up, and get a quick overview of the week’s priorities.
  • All Zoom video meetings should be “cameras on.” More on this below.
  • In Slack, we don’t just have work channels. We also have channels for announcements, photography, random fun, and more. Slack also supports emojis and GIFs, which help us bring humor to our communication.

2. Intentionally separate work & personal life

You can’t allow guilt about work to spill over into your private life. And you can’t feel guilt, when you’re in your private life, about things that aren’t getting done at work. You need to separate the two and feel good about both facets of your life.

Sadly, I’ve watched people go to really dark places when they don’t separate these. So it’s imperative that you define what separation looks like for you—and then practice it.

Here are some things you can do:

  • Keep the same routines you did before you started working from home. If you used to get up, eat breakfast, and take a shower before driving to the office, do the same thing now (minus the driving). Resist the temptation to sleep in a little later, then roll out of bed in your jammies and pop open your laptop. That’s not healthy.
  • Try making your bed every day. It’s a great way to signal to your body (and brain) that sleep time has ended and work time has begun.
  • Don’t look at work-related material outside of working hours. Of course, people who are “on call” may not be able to do this. But if your work doesn’t involve critical-path support, keep your work devices and/or apps out of sight and out of mind when the day is over.  

3. Communicate clearly (and trust your people)

This one is harder for team leaders than for the people they lead. If you’re used to looking over people’s shoulders, checking up on them, and micromanaging, you’re going to feel a terrifying loss of control as you transition to the remote model.

But the highest-functioning remote teams don’t need micromanagement. Rather, they thrive on two things: solid trust and clear communication.

  • Trust—You have to trust your people, and your people have to trust each other (and you).
  • A regular rhythm of communication—You must understand (and articulate clearly) what the business requires. If you can’t articulate what people should be working on, managing a virtual team is going to be incredibly difficult.

Tools like Slack (for instant messaging), Zoom (for video calls), and Google Drive for collaborative docs, spreadsheets, and more, give you the technology you need to manage a virtual team, but having these tools doesn’t mean you know how to use them. In 12 years, we’ve found that you should use these tools to make sure people are working on the RIGHT things—not to check whether they’re working at all.

4. Make it a policy to turn cameras ON for Zoom calls

We find it’s far better to leave web cams on for all Zoom calls (if bandwidth allows). While it isn’t face-to-face in person, it’s still a face-to-face conversation. That’s essential to maintaining relationships and trust among team members.

Not everyone will want to do this. In fact, you may encounter resistance at first. But it’s a necessary step for virtual teams. In the long run, it will help build community within your team, and that community is essential for the virtual model.

5. Watch your eating habits ;)

If you’re used to grabbing a bite when things calm down at the office, remote work may hold a hidden pitfall for you: Things are probably a lot calmer at home all the time. If you’re not used to this scenario, you may find yourself heading to the fridge constantly.

Once again, intentionality is the key. You know the drill—it’s your standard health and wellness advice:

  • Watch the snacks. You probably need less food, less often than you think.
  • Step away from your desk regularly for intentional workouts. (Which echoes that earlier point about separating work and personal life.)

The Takeaway: Be intentional

Every point in this article comes back to being intentional. Teammate relationships, separation of work and personal life, healthy eating—all of these things require intentional decision-making. Keep that requirement in mind, execute on it, and you’ll be in good form as you transition to remote work.

Moving forward: FREE case study

Want to see what a 100% virtual team can accomplish? Download this case study on LORD Corporation. You’ll learn how the Corevist team launched SAP-integrated B2B eCommerce for LORD Corporation, all through remote collaboration. The results for LORD? A 41.5% increase in B2B eCommerce revenue.

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