New Rules for Leading Teams in the COVID Era and Team Communication

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CIO – John Edwards – Getting IT teams to work imaginatively and productively has always been challenging. New social distancing restrictions elevate a demanding task to a new and even more daunting level.

Every successful IT project is the result of a team effort. Inspiration, enthusiasm, collaboration, brainstorming, advocacy and support are all key elements in IT innovation. But what happens to teamwork when social distancing rules drive members into COVID-19-created isolation?

When circumstances force teams to work apart, IT leaders need to adopt a new set of team-building skills, says Steven Hatfield, a principal and global future of work leader at Deloitte Consulting. Some enterprises already have a head start.

“Companies that have previously embraced future of work practices [are] well positioned to sustain their operations and respond quickly to the demands of navigating COVID-19, including fostering teamwork amid social distancing,” he explains. Within these organizations, teams are supported by an ecosystem of virtual resources, technologies and behavioral norms that define work as a thing to do, not a place to go to.

Here are principles IT leaders at forward-thinking enterprises abide by in building collaborative, productive teams in today’s new challenging, cloistered working environment.

Open Communication is King

Team communication can quickly deteriorate when employees are scattered across different, isolated locations. To unite team members, industrial robots manufacturer Vecna Robotics conducts staff meetings that respect both social distancing requirements, as well as employee preferences.

Kay Perkinson Vecna Robotics

Kay Perkinson, Chief of Staff at Vecna Robotics

“For those in the office, this means chairs six-feet apart and masks worn at all times,” says Kay Perkinson, the company’s chief of staff. “For others, this means dialing in from their desk, if they’re more comfortable when further distanced, or from their home, if they prefer to be a bit more secluded.”

Social distancing can also lead to employees feeling lonely and isolated. Vecna addresses this concern with a series of initiatives. “We promote a variety of non-work activities that really help to bring our team together,” Perkinson says. “This includes remote and in-person social hours, coffee chats, yoga classes, club meetups and more.”

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