Working from Home? – Tips to Sustain Connectedness (from Google’s Veronica Gilrane and LDL)

Posted on March 27th, 2020

The developing situation in the UK and overseas related to attempts to combat the spread of Covid-19 are having a significant impact on how we do business at LDL. But these uncertain times are not stopping us from providing outstanding learning solutions to our clients.

With the help of virtual learning tools, we are continuing to support the individuals and organisations we work with to develop sales, management, leadership, negotiation and presentation skills excellence – learn more about LDL Remote Training.

We are more than happy to deliver most of our normal training portfolio remotely, and encourage you to get in touch with us to discuss further remote learning options. But in addition to our standard content, new insights are also needed for the remote work environment. On this blog then, we address some of the new challenges you and your business might face when almost everyone is working from home.

Working from home: not actually as good as it sounds?

On the surface of it, working from home sounds like a dream: you don’t have to fuss about your appearance (although pyjamas might not be a good look for a video-call with your boss) and you can manage your own time. But not all of us thrive in isolation, and the reality might not be easy for everyone.

Perhaps you have a couple of young children who are endlessly fascinated with your laptop webcam. Perhaps you struggle to get into ‘work-mode’ while at home. Or perhaps you simply miss the companionship of your colleagues.

There are countless articles online about the difficulties of working from home, most of which were written before the coronavirus made remote working mandatory for nearly everyone. And although we are now ‘all in this together’, many of the challenges of remote working remain.

‘Working together when we’re not together’ – Google’s internal study

At LDL we’ve written before about Google’s data-driven approach to management and leadership skills (see e.g. How to Build the Perfect Team). And Veronica Gilrane, Google’s people analytics manager, actually posted a helpful blog last year about remote or ‘distributed’ work titled “Working together when we’re not together”.

In order to better understand the impact of distributed work, her team sent out a survey to more than 5,000 staff and held focus groups with about 100 employees around the world, measuring well-being, performance and connectedness, among other things.

Gilrane and her team were happy to find no difference in performance for individuals and teams whose work required collaboration with colleagues around the world versus those who spend most of their day working with colleagues in the same office. Well-being standards were also uniform across the board.

But if performance and well-being were not adversely affected by working remotely, what Gilrane describes as ‘connectedness’ was, by contrast, significantly hindered:

“At the same time, we did hear from Googlers that working with colleagues across the globe can make it more difficult to establish connections—in many senses of the word. Coordinating schedules across time zones and booking a conference room for a video chat takes more logistical brain power than dropping by a coworkers desk for a meeting over coffee. The technology itself can also be limiting— glitchy video or faulty sound makes impromptu conversations that help teammates get to know, and trust each other, seem like more trouble than they’re worth.”
Googleplex, California
Veronica Gilrane’s playbook for remote working

To help make remote teams feel more connected, Gilrane and her team consolidated their findings and best practices into a set of playbooks, which are worth reading.

Some of the recommendations are not possible in the current environment – such as trying to schedule real face to face meetings – but there are many helpful tips that are possible: from ensuring you have a functioning camera and headset, to making the effort to reach out and connect with co-workers, even if it’s just to share a fun link.

The key is to combat the sense of disconnection which can so easily set in when team members are not working in the same physical environment.

LDL Training

There are many reasons to invest in sales or management training in normal times, and we hope normal times will resume as quickly as possible. But in our present extraordinary times, there are some additional reasons to invest in training, which are worth mentioning.

Firstly, you might find that you and your team, furloughed or otherwise, might have some time on your hands. And what better way to prepare for the return of business as usual than with some management, leadership, sales or negotiation training from LDL?

Secondly, because there are new skills to learn in the remote work environment, including the challenges of managing teams remotely and selling to clients you are not able to meet with in person. Could you use a hand?

Thirdly, and perhaps most importantly, even a short training session can help to improve the sense of connectedness within your team at a time when ‘social distancing’ is keeping us all apart. Why not let LDL bring your team together (virtually), encourage you to develop your skills and think about the possibilities of the future?

We’d be very happy to hear from you!

Learn more about LDL Remote Training, as well as our Sales Training and Management Training.

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