Over the last four months, ProFocus hosted several virtual roundtable discussions to connect local tech leaders. The initial discussions from March 2020 were difficult because managers were just beginning to adapt to the needs of their companies and teams. Many felt overwhelmed and uncertain of how to address the economic and health threats facing themselves and their communities. Four months later, the uncertainty still weighs heavily on the tech industry but it is met with an overwhelming sense of positivity.
In our most recent Tech Leaders Lunch on June 24, 2020, a group of 14 technology leaders sat down to discuss The Do’s and Don’ts of Managing Remotely. This lively discussion proved that the pandemic has shaken up the tech industry from IT departments in healthcare and education to eCommerce and finance.
Prior to the pandemic, remote work was a familiar topic for IT leaders. Some described it as a struggle between upper management and employees, while others felt that their companies had already adopted remote work flexibility. Either way, most leaders agreed that the pandemic has provided valuable data for their company to assess and learn from.
Although the data and experiences of many IT managers suggest that WFH increases productivity, others report difficulties tracking and communicating productivity increases across their company. Executives that resisted remote flexibility worried about losing workplace culture, increased distractions, security risks, and technical difficulties.
In our latest discussion, tech leaders opened up about some of the benefits from a management perspective, here’s some of what they had to say:
- Moving to all remote levels the playing field. I’m no longer the one remote manager trying to get a word in during a meeting in a conference room where everyone else is visible.
- We are no longer seeing people forgotten from meetings now that everyone is remote.
- First, break all the rules. Not about working remotely. But everything you know about managing effectively.
- Senior leadership that was resistant to remote work must get out in front of their staff and acknowledge that remote operations are working well and admit they were wrong in order to keep this momentum of productivity. Recognize the accomplishments of your company in the face of adversity.
- Remote work has helped us evolve processes. Who actually needs to be in that meeting? Is a video call the best way to solve this problem?
FINDING A BALANCE
As tech managers and decision-makers take a look towards the future it’s clear that remote flexibility is not going away. Their challenge now is to help their teams avoid fatigue and stay motivated. For some, this means encouraging employees to take PTO and for others, this means having Zoom-free Fridays. Whatever that looks like for your company, remember to walk the talk and be an example of work-life balance.
One challenge that has come up in every single discussion over the last four months was childcare and parenting. Many families and households face challenges and uncertainty beyond their control. So, how can IT leaders support their teams facing these issues? No one has a solid answer but they are doing their best to lead with empathy to create a new normal in corporate cultures.
SETTING AN EXAMPLE
Most managers agreed that they tend to set the example for their teams when it comes to productivity and time management. Although the traditional work hours have shifted for many, these tech leaders had some interesting ideas on how to respect the time and effort of their employees, here are a few examples:
- Help your employees that are homeschooling kids time block and make sure your team doesn’t interrupt or schedule meetings during this period.
- Don’t send emails after 5 pm.
- Help employees get and manage a stipend to get the work materials they need to be effective.
- When you have time allotted for team building, don’t bring up projects or work-related items. Encourage your team to focus on other topics that normally would be discussed at the water cooler or in the break room.
- Consider blocking out collaboration time over a video meeting where your team can work independently but chime in with ideas or comments.
ProFocus aims to help local tech leaders grow their networks and learn from the successes and challenges of their peers during these roundtable discussions. For more insights about how Portland’s tech leadership is navigating the pandemic check out the key takeaways from our past discussions.
If you or someone you know is interested in learning more about our upcoming events, please email us at [email protected].