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Topics: Ethics, Leadership, Stakeholder Management
What unique ethical team challenges have you faced in the pandemic and work-from-home situations? How did you solve them?
The perilous pandemic of 2020 has seriously impacted almost everyone. Project and Program leaders are no exception. The new normal is going to see increased work from home.

What unique challenges have you faced? How did you solve them?

Please share your learnings for the valuable benefit of our dynamic community here.

For example, I've found engaging the team extra hard in work-from-home situations. Managing productivity to meet the responsibility of customer expectations is a big challenge, especially since leaders need to respect what team members are going through in their lives.
Are team members being completely honest about their challenges?

My mantra has been trust much, but verify once in a while.

I eagerly look forward to your views and learnings!
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Karthik,

I have seen more ethical behavior within teams, rather than bad behaviors.

I observed more respect, more responsibility, more honesty and openness (see those disclosure of faces and home environment, willingness to be taped). I found that people are in general more effective working from home and spend more hours working. A leaders responsibility is to limit their work and enable recuperation and dealing with their non-work life.

Some say how can I trust members if I cannot control them, but this is in my view outdated thinking in the knowledge work area and shows kind of disrespect.
I do agree with Karthik.
Work from home has made people save time, that in normal life they spend going and returning from the office to home. This has caused that team members are dedicating more hours to work. Human interaction and communication present in the office has disappeared, maybe this causes more concentration in persons who live alone, but in the case they have a family, personal familiar situations can interrupt their work. It's a Project Manager's responsibility to be aware and understand every project team member home environment, and control the number of hours dedicated to work, to ensure the best performance of all human resources.
I think when team faces a context surrounding by pitfall and challenges that obligates them to work at home, the most important for successful leadership is focus on the people, as consequence an adequate stakeholders management would be helpful to achieve the objectives.
Building trust environment and coaching the team to align them on common goals will be crucial. Understand and apply the agile principles and values would be important to encourage the desired behavior to motivate team to accomplishment of the goals.
I have noted that in situation when chaos apparently dominates the environment, always there are people with special skills that keep the calm, focus on solving problems, and many times see this situation as opportunities to enhance creativity, allowing team experiment leadership with new proposals of processes and solutions, that maybe in normal situations would never come out.
So focus on those influencers for encouraging emergent leadership, by building trust and respect among all team, which will be the key to create collaboration and exchanging of new ideas and new processes to communicate in more effective way. Even though, the team is not communicating face to face, but the fact that they can keep in control their family members face to face, it gives them more confident to spent more time working at home in a manner more comfortable, boosting an approach leads to the solving problems mindset more than negatives and unmotivated thoughts that end by closing the creativity and our capacity to search the better decisions and actions.
Karthik.

Thank you for posting this - reflecting on the challenges working from home in a pandemic.

The likes of zoom and teams enabled connectivity with the team, conducting meetings and sharing knowledge that are based on previously built relationships, trust and understanding of each team members circumstances at home - whether it's having kids, home schooling, pets and other responsibilities that created a more empathetic working relationship - as we are all in it together. Having said that, as every situation, we make the best out of it, with the benefits and advantages it provides while understanding the limitations and the dis-benefits.
I personally missed the casual talks - the small conversations that enable us to connect, motivate, understand and integrate bits and pieces of work activities that come from unstructured conversations, discussions and observations - especially those beyond our own direct teams and stakeholders.
The other challenge for me personally was optimizing the spread of virtual meetings - too many would drain my energy as I focus on the screen, the faces, the tabled documents ... We are well programmed relatively for in person meetings that help us detect body language and read the air in a room!
Karthik, thank you for broaching this topic! Managing the remote worker is certainly my challenge. I've found the technique you've proposed is the best way ahead, "trust much, but verify once in a while".
Maximum flexibility has been extended to employees, and many are working alternate work schedules. Trying to maintain consistency and transparency, avoid the perception of favoritism, and keep up communications, is hard work. I've limited my span of control only my most immediate members, and trust them to do the same.
Karthik,
Great questions. One item from this I have found is subject of managing productivity is that most people do not want to speak up when they are having troubles or need help, and not understanding that by not doing so is not sign of weakness but of strength, not only for themselves but for the betterment of the team. It is a leaders responsibility and challenge to establish a trusting relationship where the employee is comfortable speaking up and sharing their challenges which is a tough balance , when it is hard to respect the employees troubles if they are not comfortable sharing them, It is also the responsibility of the employee to be honest if they are not able to complete the work expected from them, due to lack of time, or whatever the reason may be.
This is a situation that has not been limited to the pandemic, but is more prevalent now with the reduced interactions with the remote workers. This happens whether the employee is sitting in their cubicle or working from home

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