As the post-pandemic era ensues, it’s time to break down any barriers. Stick together. Increase collaboration. Never stop looking for inefficiencies. Stay innovative.
Plain and simple: The pandemic has altered the way businesses operate. This unexpected disruption suddenly challenged day-to-day operations. For those who are still hanging on, not every business adapted quickly, in fact many of them stumbled the first few weeks before things started to progress forward. These new working conditions come with their fair share of frustrations, but that doesn’t mean they are here to stay. Have you figured out how to move past the frustrations? What is standing in your way?
We sat down to chat with Beth Scudder, an experienced solutions consultant at Apexon, with a demonstrated history of driving customer success. Beth focuses on successful project delivery within IT/business departments and has observed how remote working has really been highlighting inefficiencies within a team.
Beth: From my viewpoint, I’m glad some of these bottlenecks were exposed. As a technology consultant, I help our clients with this exercise. Now that we have identified the problems, it’s time to solve them.
Apexon: What is the biggest hurdle you have observed over the course of the pandemic?
Beth: While there are many, I would definitely say one that I repeatedly witness across many enterprises is a slower response time. A client I was working with had strict security rules that required us to communicate over a certain technology platform. Because I was a consultant, I was on a trial version and my access had to be reinstated frequently. It created this “thorn in my side” mentality whenever I had a quick question to send, not knowing if the software would let me in. If my question didn’t require an email or a scheduled meeting, any access issues would force my hand into formalizing more interactions than necessary. We don’t all have the same luxury of being able to walk by someone’s desk to see if they have a few minutes to chat and it can certainly be frustrating.
Apexon: That definitely sounds frustrating. What do you recommend teams do when they encounter this issue?
Beth: The tools we are using to stay connected are more of a necessity today than before. If a method of communication isn’t working for you or your team, don’t settle for it. Understand what works best for each of you and formulate a plan for both casual and formal discussions. If the proper channels are provided, guidelines are set, and teammates do their best to follow them, you are on the right track to minimize waiting periods.
Apexon: Have you noticed any other remote impacts that have affected productivity at work?
Beth: We have all spent a little extra time at home lately, some of us establishing our first remote workstations. We may have missed waving to the front desk as we walk into the office, powering up that second monitor, or even daydreaming about dinner on the commute home. But at home, we had to go back to the basics of productivity as we drew the boundaries between work and play.
Think back to your first couple weeks working remotely and compare it with today. How did you adapt? Regardless of to what extent, we have all thought of little ways to improve our new way of working. It is critical to be as agile as possible in today’s world. I challenge you to focus on one of your improvements, pick apart that innovative mindset, and look to push it further. After all, there’s certainly going to be other bumps along the way and your survival depends on how you react.
Apexon: The new remote way of working definitely imposes feelings of isolation. What do you recommend teams do to stay connected?
Beth: It’s natural for teams that are used to working together in an office to grow apart as they shift towards remote work. It’s even easier for teams that don’t normally work together to face similar challenges.
If you feel disconnected from coworkers, reach out. Schedule time to catch up, even if it’s just checking in to see what’s on their plate. Forcing ourselves to break out of our shell will encourage the same among our peers. If you encounter a task that you know might cross into someone else’s territory or blends well with their past experiences, talk about it over a virtual lunch. If these barriers are broken down in a casual manner, collaboration among team members will come naturally. Teams won’t hesitate to work together, they will trust each other to get the job done, and the company as a whole will benefit.
Apexon: Do you have any advice on how teams should prepare for 2021?
Since most of 2020 has involved remote conditions, company-wide goals or strategic initiatives were likely impacted. Weekly, if not monthly, standups are sometimes the only way we stay informed with the latest news, success stories, or even challenges our company is facing. A lack of uniformity will set you back as you strive to complete remaining goals, or work to define new ones.
As you look to define success, both past and future, be sure that all teams have an opportunity to ontribute to that definition as early as possible. For example, let’s say your product development team wants to roll out a new platform within the next 6 months. Their plan is to roll out to a dozen customers in the first year. Before they put their heads down to work on the product, start with a virtual brainstorming session with marketing and sales. In order to achieve that goal, all teams will need to be on the same page. Alignment should be the key focus as we enter into the new year.
As the year goes on, if you are still unable to be in the same room, keep the momentum going by scheduling recurring virtual check ins. As organizational strategist, Kenichi Ohmae, likes to say, “Rowing harder doesn’t help if the boat is headed in the wrong direction.”