Over nine months ago Brian and I started discussing our contingency plan for working remotely for two weeks because of COVID-19. Our experience in crisis planning and communications made our next steps clear. I never imagined eight months later we would be working from home with new colleagues we have never met in person.
Leading a team through a pandemic via Microsoft Teams takes empathy and flexibility – both of which is our strong suit. But also onboarding and welcoming new colleagues was something I was not exactly sure of how to do.
For our team to be successful and guarantee our clients success we must continue:
- Be certain in uncertain times – over communicating with our team and having honest conversations has been most helpful in finding some certainty in these times. Most of us thought we would be back in the office in two weeks, then that became months. We’re not even sure now when we will return full time. Brian constantly reminded our team that the decision to return to the office would be an ongoing conversation and a team decision. The one certainty we had was our team would make decisions together and that continues to keep our team morale up.
- Flexibility is more important than ever – we were all thrown into a unique scenario of joining colleagues, journalists, and clients in their homes via virtual meetings. Our team has grown through different personal life changes along with a pandemic. To help ease challenges we’ve continued to be flexible with our team to allow for time for the new needs of our new normal like grocery orders, homeschooling, and balancing conflicting schedules. We had to shift our typical day-to-day to talk with journalists when they were available because they were also juggling the same things we were as a team.
- Challenges are different – I used to struggle with leading our team while hopping from meeting to meeting across town with clients or reporters. I admit, it has been a bit of a relaxed day without the hectic travel between meetings. Of course, there are still challenges. The internet drops right at the perfect time you’re pitching a great strategy to a new client.
- Regular check-ins are key – we used to meet with each of our colleagues weekly. It worked great to check in on what is working well, what is a big challenge, and how Brian and I can help. But working remotely we needed more regular check-ins. We use Microsoft Teams planner app to each list our activities for the week. Then, each morning we have a quick video chat via Teams to touch base about the day ahead. This keeps us all in the loop and helps delegate projects.
Overall, we are incredibly proud of our team. I guess it’s in a PR practitioners’ blood to transition quickly and seamlessly.