Project Management

Voices on Project Management

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Voices on Project Management offers insights, tips, advice and personal stories from project managers in different regions and industries. The goal is to get you thinking, and spark a discussion. So, if you read something that you agree with--or even disagree with--leave a comment.

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Building Effective Team Habits in the New Work Ecosystem

by Mario Trentim

I’ve been familiar with remote work and virtual teams since 2010. I’ve also witnessed how digital transformation has enabled the adoption of new business models, flatter organizational structures and hybrid project management approaches since then.

In the wake of the global pandemic, I’ve received many questions about building high-performing virtual teams, and how to improve collaboration and productivity as a whole in the workforce.

Before I share some lessons learned with you, I’d like to remind you that we live in uncommon times. Predictions and models aren’t capable of guiding us as they were before the crisis. As quickly as teams have adapted to going virtual, there remains a great deal of uncertainty and a number of challenges that have yet to be overcome.

Going back to January 2020, you and your team likely were used to working together in a particular context. Maybe you had flexible working hours, and some team members worked remotely. Perhaps you were all working 9 to 5 in the same physical office space. It doesn’t matter. What matters is that you had a routine.

When the world came to a full lockdown, the concept of remote work and the modern workplace shifted dramatically. We also saw the shuttering of schools and places of business. I told my employees and team members in March: We don’t expect you to be as productive as you were in the office. Take your time, take care of your family and health.

With time, people started adjusting and adapting to the so-called new normal—and forming new habits. There are many books and references about habit formation. I came across an insightful research article published by the European Journal of Social Psychology, which concludes that the repetition of behavior in a consistent context results in increasing automaticity and productivity.

As we made our way in the new work ecosystem, we thought we needed some structured guidance. We addressed that with open discussions, one-on-one meetings, and a shared space for ideas, emotions and lessons learned about working from home.

 

New Habits for the New Normal

Through a collaborative effort, my team built a work-from-home manual. It’s not mandatory, but it does provide some helpful advice:

  • Stay healthy. Suggestions relate to drinking water, eating healthy food, standing up every hour or so, working out from home and getting a good night of sleep.
  • Take care of yourself. This is about motivation—shaving and bathing šŸ˜‰, feeling strong, meditating and emotional wellbeing.
  • Remain focused. It’s easy to get distracted with a bunch of emails and IMs, but we need to find ways to execute deep work.
  • Prepare and engage. We don’t need a lot of extra meetings just because we’re working from home. We have to be better prepared and more purpose-driven, set up better agendas and genuinely engage in discussions.

 

Now I’d like to leave you some food for thought:

  1. What are the most important skills required to be effective digital leaders?
  2. How do you structure communication to ensure clarity and to avoid overwhelming your virtual teams?
  3. How can you lead from a distance, while fostering collaboration and teamwork when people are working remotely?

 

Let me know in the comments below.

Posted by Mario Trentim on: September 15, 2020 05:16 PM | Permalink | Comments (7)
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