Managing Newly Remote Teams During a Global Crisis
Lyndsay Caslick, Stiris Research
As the quarantine and lockdown directives stretch on, many companies, including Stiris, are dealing with a new way of working and thinking. Formerly office-based team members are now working from home, which means that managing a team that you were previously face-to-face with also must change. While there was a foundation in place at Stiris for this, given the proportion of our team members who are already remotely based, we have certainly come to appreciate some lessons learned on how to best manage people during these unprecedented times.
As most companies have already ascertained, staying in touch with each other is the key to everything going smoothly when teams are moved to a remote capacity. Regularly scheduled calls are helpful, but so are individual touch-points, checking in with each other not only to see how work is going, but to see how everyone is doing. As succinctly stated on Twitter:
“’You are not working from home; you are at your home during a crisis trying to work.’ I’ve heard this twice today. I think it’s an important distinction worth emphasizing.”
The work is still there – but it is important to acknowledge the dynamic that comes with the anxiety of a pandemic. Anxiety for your health, for your friends and family’s health, for the future of your job, for dealing with being home all day either alone or with your family (whom I’m sure you love dearly…), and many other things.
Having certain infrastructure in place can really help you to manage the more emotional side of a crisis; practical planning leaves space for better support. Some key things that we had in place that we are grateful for include:
• Available laptops for all team members.
• Remote access to study files.
• A culture of communicating via Microsoft Teams with remote team members to stay engaged.
• All team members were familiar with Zoom for setting up video and teleconferences.
• TRUST in our team members that productivity would maintain the status quo.
• A sense of humour to keep everyone sane.
However, there are, of course, always those speedbumps that we are grateful that we know now, and will be sure to have covered off in the future in case we ever find ourselves in this situation again:
• Those available laptops have to be programmed and ready to go – turns out, your IT team is going to be just as overwhelmed with impending changes as you are and it’s best to have this ready in advance.
• Forwarding office phones was slightly more complicated than we thought – we are so used to emails, we rarely even think of our phone lines (can we blame the office Millennials?). Next time, we will have instructions ready to go for forwarding.
• Office deliveries need to be considered – what will need to be held or re-directed? Having a plan for packages you are expecting (and the ones you are not expecting) from sites, Sponsors, etc. will save some headaches.
• Over-communication is a thing. While it is important to stay in contact, too many calls can become distracting and a nuisance. Feel out the team’s responses during calls and if there is little to say, reduce the frequency.
There will never be a perfect roadmap for managing teams remotely, as so much is dependent on the individual team members (and some of this front-end work comes from hiring the right people for the job). But, with a little advanced planning and a lot of compassion, the show can go on.
Want to know more about Stiris Research? Have a question? Just want to connect to another human being during a global crisis? Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org
About Stiris Research
Stiris Research is an entrepreneurial Clinical Trial Management company specializing in conducting complex Phase I through IIIB trials for North American biotechnology and biopharmaceutical companies, with a focus on Oncology, CNS and Neurology. Stiris Research was formed as a result of listening to the stakeholders engaged in clinical trials, identifying their unmet needs, and developing a unique, value-based approach to address those needs.
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