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Coronavirus (COVID-19): updates and advice.

Team working and communication

If you're working in a remote team, you and your colleagues will need to establish an understanding of how you're going to work together.

Talk about expectations around working patterns, work output and communication methods. Respect each other’s differences and give each other flexibility within the boundaries set by your team manager.

Respecting differences

Working from home may give you the ability to work more flexible hours, and everyone will approach this differently. Some people do their best work in the morning, others in the late evening. Work at a time when you're at your most productive, within the boundaries set for your team.

Make sure your team understands when you're working by keeping your calendar updated. Respect that your colleagues may work to a different work schedule but hold team meetings or workshops at times that work for everyone.

Be mindful of your colleague’s individual situations. Not everyone will be able to work at the same pace. Some of your colleagues may have caring responsibilities or have a bad internet connection at home. Some may feel overwhelmed by the current situation and may need extra support. It’s important to check in on each other regularly and have personal conversations to understand the context of each team member’s situation.

Hanlon’s razor refers to the idea that we should always assume ignorance before malice. That is, if someone does something wrong, don’t assume they purposely meant to hurt you. It’s much more likely that they simply made a mistake.

This is especially important in situations where you’re missing context, such as when you're only communicating by text. If you've been bothered by something you have received from a colleague, try to always assume ignorance before malice and have a chat with them to clear up the misunderstanding.

Stay in touch

Communication is now more important than ever. It’s essential for your team to discuss and agree how you will work together in this new virtual environment.

Continue to have regular team meetings and one to ones. Teams could set their own daily catch up, this could be to discuss their welfare, questions on work or what's going on outside their window! Human contact will be important during this time, so find a way that works for you and your team.

Acknowledge that different personalities and styles have different needs. There's a high risk that everyone will assume others want to be communicated with in the way that they like to be communicated with.

Some people may need more support than others to understand what is going on around them. Others will prefer a distraction. Making sure we respect each other, respect how we deal with situations and respect the level of information we feel we need to process what’s happening is how we can support each other.

These are some typical responses based on different behaviour styles to be mindful of:

  • establish the facts; some people need to understand everything that's happening, follow the rules and research facts and guidance
  • cautious and considerate; some people will worry, will question what it all means and think about different scenarios
  • realistic resolution; some will see that with a clear action plan risks and casualties will be minimised, but we will get through it
  • fighting with positivity; some will need humour, music, entertainment, to see the light in the dark and know it will all be ok in the end

To help reduce fear and confusion it's good for teams to communicate any changes happening and to understand the direction they're working towards. Be open and honest about what's happening and why. Commit to avoiding email and conveying your message with voice and face for conversations involving heightened emotions (either positive or negative).

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