JMReid Group Blog

Kaycie Surrell
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By now we’re all tired of the word “unprecedented” even though it’s arguably the best way to describe what’s happening in the world right now. For those of us for whom remote, freelance work was already how we earned our keep, this is par for the course. We are no strangers to the daily grind of hunting for potential clients, working on a tight deadline, and navigating the uncertainty of contract work. We’re no strangers to working in our pajamas either. But for a lot of people, this is uncharted territory.

In our last blog post, JMReid Group compares Low Ground Leadership and High Ground Leadership. You’ll remember that Low Ground Leadership focuses more on the transactional, like people pleasing and solving immediate problems. High Ground Leadership is transformational, focusing on challenging existing ways of thinking and accomplishing things others thought impossible.

Call to Action

COVID19 is the dirty word on the tip of everyone’s tongues. It has challenged our society and economy in ways that have left world leaders throwing their hands up, incapable of finding solutions that please everyone. The Coronavirus Call to Action is essentially a challenge to us all—employers and employees alike, to stay on the cutting-edge of communication and give careful consideration to company culture.

“Back in the late 2000s, my business was in the same position that many face today and working from home was our only solution to staying afloat during the economic downturn,” writes Chris Dyer for C&IT Magazine. Dyer suggests that there are two elements imperative to a vibrant company culture: a positive mindset and a healthy respect for mistakes.

Lucky for us, communication tech has vastly improved since the Great Recession. Teams large and small can easily link up through a variety of messaging apps meant to streamline communication. According to a Reuters article published less than a week after President Trump’s National Emergency declaration, Microsoft Corp’s team chat/conferencing app experienced a 37.5% jump in response to more people working from home.

Harder, Better, Faster, Stronger

Tapping into those “Wise Advocate” practices outlined in our last post will prove instrumental in the coming weeks as people adapt to a new, and possibly unfamiliar work environment. Now more than ever, leaders have an opportunity to learn what really motivates and drives their teams. Managers will be able to put mentalizing, executive function, and applied mindfulness into action as they help their teams work through new challenges.

Company culture in a nutshell:

  • Prioritize employee engagement: Listen, learn, and put employee well-being first
  • Consider work-life balance: Be aware of burnout and consider a flexible schedule
  • Increase productivity through better benefits: Consider benefits programs that meet individual needs
  • Psychological safety: Feeling comfortable to admit mistakes and try new things
  • Employee experience: Take care of your employees and they’ll take care of your clients
  • Proper development programs = higher retention: Opportunities for growth are essential

None of this changes just because a larger majority of us are working from home. What changes are the variables. Some of us are working from home surrounded by kids, pets, and partners. Some of us are extroverts who thrive on person-to-person interactions. Some of us are introverts who thrive in solitary work environments. These variables are all tools that can help good leaders better understand the employee experience, consider their concerns and inspirations, and encourage successful problem solving.

The New Normal

For many people, making adjustments to accommodate the health and safety of their coworkers is opening their eyes to the reality of remote work. Perspectives may change as managers find they’re able to better manage teams under new working conditions. Employees may realize they’re fully capable of performing well while working remotely, and use it as an opportunity to start a dialogue with their employers.

Jennifer Christie, Head of Human Resources for Twitter, suspects that the Coronavirus may have a lasting impact on how many companies do business. “People who were reticent to work remotely will find that they really thrive that way. Managers who didn’t think they could manage teams that were remote will have a different perspective,” she told Buzzfeed News.

JMReid Group is committed to understanding individual issues related to business strategy and culture cultivation. We know that every team is different, and that’s what makes customizable and creative program initiatives so essential.

While the Coronavirus continues to cast a veil of uncertainty over us all, one thing is certain. The way we work and the ways we think about work are changing. Workplace issues like empathy and inclusivity are more prevalent than ever. Employees are looking to leadership for answers to tough questions, and relying on them to set a precedent for fair workplace practices. Management has an incredible opportunity to step up and get creative with communication—finding that perfect balance between expediency and strategy.