During the last six months, most of the businesses have learned how to work online on video conference and meetings. This has allowed employees to be still productive by working from home.
But if this is ok from a business continuity standpoint, what about business results? In fact, I do believe that the online world is still treated as a contingency plan, not something to embrace in the long term to improve performance.
Why online is not a temporary solution
First, given the current market conditions, there is no time anymore to wait to get better results. You can keep postponing major initiatives but what is the impact of that?
Second, we are all optimistic, but we have no clue when we’ll be able to go back to what we were doing pre-Covid19.
Third, you can achieve great business results by working 100% online if you are willing to take some calculated risks.
In the last 12 months, I delivered a number of complex projects to large organizations worldwide. All online. From strategic planning, change management, digitalization to international expansion. It was a success. But not a surprise.
Here’s what I learned:
- Have confidence in your people but focus on outcomes
One of the biggest misconceptions is that people are less productive when they work from home. They get distracted easily, work less, lose focus.
Although this could have been right at the beginning of the lockdown, we are creatures of habits. We respond to the environment by adapting our routines to be more effective and productive.
If you are thinking to launch a big project online with your people, you shouldn’t be worried about their routines but, instead, make sure you engage them, reinforce your vision, and what specific results you want them to achieve. Set the foundations right to avoid endless and disengaging brainstorming sessions.
- Don’t be scared of technology
There are still concerns about technology and its impact on work. Things like the stability of the platforms, employees not always tech-savvy, difficult to engage on video, security, no physical whiteboards, and so forth.
All good points, but here’s the thing. The tech is now ready and easy.
Online platforms work well even with a large team. Besides, there are so many other tools that can help you and your team to work together remotely. Online whiteboards, project management tools, collaboration platforms, cloud storage, etc.
Yet, you don’t have full confidence in their ability to deal with that, right?
Let me tell you something. I have worked recently with a large and diverse team. No one was a millennial, but everyone has easily understood, used, and enjoyed these tools to the extent they are now using them on a daily basis.
This leads me to the next point…
- Prep is vital
Whether you are planning to run 2 hours meeting or a multiday workshop with a large team, there is one thing that doesn’t change. You need an extraordinary preparation to run a smooth and very effective session.
In other words, you need to excel in events management.
In my experience, it’s so important to take the time to test and simulate the online event to see how the technology works.
Then, share in advance with the participants all necessary instructions, video tutorials, agenda, log in details, etc. They should know everything about the event in advance. The last thing you want to do is to bring surprises at the beginning of the event.
- Smooth as silk
Most strategic initiatives do require some sort of external support. A consultant, a coach, or a facilitator.
Why? Because you want to have someone unbiased able to challenge your team, ask tough questions, keep people on task, speak up when leadership wavers, assist with implementation.
But when you work online, there is more. You need someone able to navigate through the technology, deal with silence, read faces on video, direct and control communication, allow everyone to speak up, keep the engagement high, be prepared to fire fighting and change directions quickly.
Bottom line…don’t freeze and stop taking strategic initiatives because it sounds difficult to do it online.
Learn, adapt, and experiment.
Working online is going to stay. What’s the point of not embracing it to improve results?