As teams from around the globe move into telecommuting—many for the first time—duplicating an office environment is key to maintaining communication, collaboration, and motivation, says Scott Edwards, EVP, Fox Creative Advertising.

On Tuesday, Edwards and Steve Kazanjian, president and CEO of Promax, discussed new team management techniques during the entertainment marketing association’s live webinar, “How to Keep Your Teams Connected in Times of Adversity.” Here are eight takeaways:

1. Ensure Complete Logistical/Technical Setups

If you haven’t already, make sure all team members are set up with the proper software and devices they need to do their work efficiently. This task must be worked out first “or else you can’t get to other things,” he said. Therefore, it’s important to identify individuals’ technical needs early on.

2. Recognize That Everyone’s Circumstances Are Different

Although your entire team is moving through a collective shift, it’s essential to remember that a team is made up of individuals, Edwards said. Everyone’s situation varies—from different resources to different environments (while some live alone, others are working with spouses and children at home, for example). Therefore, it’s important to connect with everyone on a personal level to understand their new work needs and to keep communication flowing.

3. Establish Fun Company Traditions

Edwards says Fox has implemented virtual happy hours with rotating hosts every Friday at 4 p.m. as a non-work-related get-together. Not only does it allow a small break from the work week, but it allows you to socialize with your “work family” and recreate short interactions that you’d otherwise miss.

“Keeping that alive is so important,” he said.

4. Over-Communicate

It’s better to over communicate than to not communicate at all, which opens the risk of someone being left out of an important discussion or decision, Edwards says.

Some managers have instituted a two calls a week program as a way to create short human communications and recreate the office environment. Others, like Edwards and Kazanjian, have established “open office” video calls—a standing Zoom call where team members can pop in to ask questions or simply just say “hello.”

Other examples include working side by side with other coworkers on an open Zoom call. Instead of a formal meeting, it’s fine to sometimes turn video chat on and work on individual tasks. That way, if a question pops up, you can easily turn to your coworker on camera and ask.

5. Be Aware of How You Appear on Video

It’s easy to feel like you’re at home while, well, working from home. But Edwards says it’s essential to treat your space like you’re still in the office.

When on a video call, be mindful of screen sharing, mute audio and video when necessary, try different microphones and avoid backlighting (like sitting in front of a window) so that participants can see your face. Most importantly, be aware of your attire.

“If you wont wear it to the office, you probably don’t want to wear it on a Zoom call,” he said.

6. Accept That There’s a Productivity/Communication Lag

As a team member, if there are productivity challenges, such as kids or spouses at home, communicate those challenges. However, be mindful that you are expected to work a full day from home just as you would if you were in the office.

As a team leader, communicate clear performance goals and expectations to your team to help facilitate communication and maximize productivity.

7. Always Be Available to the Team

Be mindful that you’re still working a full day from home, not a half day, Edwards says. During work hours, establish and adhere to a routine to maximize productivity. To avoid bottlenecking any processes, respond to emails and Slack messages promptly.

On the other hand, respect work hours by upholding things like lunch hours and start and stop times, for example. At Fox, there are no meetings or Zoom calls from noon to 1 p.m. to allow everyone to take their break.

8. Focus on What You Can Control

In the wake of layoffs and uncertainty surrounding how long telecommunity will be in effect, focus on things you can control to stay grounded, motivated and inspired.

Edwards says this topic originally came up during last year’s Disney-Fox merger as teams dwelled on what it would mean for the future. Now, in similar times, Edwards suggested that people focus their energy on their day-to-day tasks, creative assignments and overall contribution to the process while knowing that although your location has changed, your role hasn’t.

“Focus on what we can offer to every [working] relationship we have. How can I be a great partner to my coworkers and my employees?” Edwards said.

On Thursday, April 2 at 1 p.m. PT, Promax will host its next webinar, “Keeping Sane, Focused and Productive” with leadership expert Cecilia Gorman. Sign up here to listen in on ways to ground yourself, ease stress and enhance communication while working remotely from home during the coronavirus pandemic.

RELATED: Podcast: How to Lead Teams Remotely with Cecilia Gorman

Check out Edwards’ full session below:

Tags: coronavirus covid-19 leadership scott edwards

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