For those fortunate enough to work from home, the challenges of sustaining this “new” work environment have come at us fast and not all of us have been prepared.
Nonprofit leaders have deep experience working in less than optimal conditions, but today’s challenges are compounded by “social distancing” and increased dependence on technology which we may – or may not – be “experts” at using.
Shannon Dixon, founder of Shannon MB Dixon, has been “working from home” for years – balancing service to nonprofits and family. We reached out to her for tips on technology and team motivation and focus.
I’m new to working from home. Can you help?
There is a lot being written right now about working from home, much of it about establishing a routine and carving out space in your home. This advice is sound, but primarily focused on moving your office to your home in normal times. Today we are working from home in extraordinary times, with emotional trauma and abnormal distractions such as caring for your children and parents, and ensuring you get basic necessities for your family. Therefore, the biggest piece of advice I can offer is for leaders to talk with every employee to ascertain what the individual barriers to effective work are, and to help create a plan to overcome those barriers and/or realign the assigned work. This is the time for careful, empathic, and stepped up communications with your team members. Encourage collaboration amongst team members to come up with the best solutions. The best leaders seek solutions from every level.
What technology tools should I be using?
You should be thinking about four basic tools. 1) A cloud-based server to ensure your team has remote access to all files and email; 2) A collaborative project management tool such as MS Teams, Asana, or Monday to plan your work and hold each other accountable; 3) A virtual meeting tool such as Zoom, Skype, or Google Hangouts so you can talk to and see each other; and 4) An instant message communications tool such as Slack, or other tools built into your project management software so teams can easily communicate quickly and regularly.
How do you keep your staff/team motivated and focused during this time?
Part of personal motivation is knowing that what you are working on is making a difference and knowing that you are a valued part of the team. So, motivating your employees can be tied to expressing their value to the work and being transparent about the outcomes. If the outcomes aren’t what your team expects, pull on the strengths of your team to analyze the situation and design an adjusted response. This is particularly important now when many nonprofits are having to pivot in the way we serve.
Anything else you think our readers should know?
Be mission focused. Your work is critical. Think creatively on how to work with and for those you serve. Don’t sit on the sidelines waiting for this to be over. Stretch yourself to add new skills to meet your mission better.
Copyright 2020 – Mel and Pearl Shaw
Let us help you find your way through this unknown time. Video and phone conferencing services always available. Call us at (901) 522-8727. www.saadandshaw.com.