I’m sure all of your inboxes are overflowing with emails and articles on how to “effectively work from home” and memes about your 4-legged “co-workers”. I’m not going to pretend to have all the answers and make any of this better. The world is a strange place right now and I truly hope we can flatten the curve and get back to normalcy. Whatever that will look like a few months from now. I wanted to share a few things that worked for us while navigating through the last few weeks. Here at Kenna Security work from home is almost a way of life. Yes, we have offices in San Francisco and Chicago, but we also have a robust and widespread remote workforce. And with it, we’ve learned a few things along the way. In the current situation where it is becoming increasingly important that employees are offered adaptable work options, our team has gathered together to share some learnings. Here’s some insight from Kenna Security:
Managing a Remote Team
Communication is key–it’s an overused phrase, but here at Kenna we believe that you can never over-communicate. Especially during a time of collective uncertainty like now, it’s more important than ever to have open lines of communication company wide.
- Broadcast information often and across multiple channels to ensure that everyone is aware of the state of things. When all your interactions are online you can never be too clear with your intentions and expectations. Host company-wide meetings, keep your team members updated frequently, utilize one synchronous communication tool that allows for quick and dirty dialogue.
- Offer your team members multiple opportunities to give and receive feedback. From something as informal as a chat channel for employees to express their concerns regarding what’s working and not working for them remotely, to a more substantive approach like a survey.
- Remain intentional and effective when running meetings. I recommend you bring your team together more than you regularly would to make sure everyone is happy and productive. That being said, even within office-life meetings can suck up the day, so be extra mindful of your team’s time by communicating meeting agendas and encouraging everyone to stay cognizant of the time they are taking to keep meetings productive. I also recommend that managers ensure that one-on-one meetings with team members are a safe space that allows them to express any and all concerns.
WFH is nothing new to Kenna Security, however, I understand that for most workers the recent shift from the idea of working remote as a luxury to a requirement has been disruptive and quite turbulent given the gravity of the circumstances. That is why it is essential that managers lead by example and embrace and drive the cultural shift.
- Because recent events have thrust a new work-life on us all, it is critical that as leaders, we understand that the transition to a remote work-life is a process that takes time, not a one-and-done kind of deal. Remind team members of that and establish an all-hands approach to embracing our new reality by encouraging all employees to express questions, concerns, and challenges of the change. And when you can, express gratitude to your colleagues and team members as much as possible and simply offer recognition for their efforts.
- Don’t stop socializing. Now more than ever we need happy hour, your employees deserve happy hour. And if that means dialing in and remotely toasting together with a glass of wine from your couch or a cold beer from your home office (in accordance with your company’s policy on adult beverages, of course), then so be it! Working remotely, while it has its benefits, can get lonely especially while we’re all responsibly self-quarantining already. You begin to miss simple things like chatting with your co-workers at the watercooler (or Bevi machine in our case), so make it happen–but make it remote. Continue to make time for team bonding, even if it’s through a computer screen.
Working On a Remote Team:
I cannot stress enough the importance of making yourself a designated workspace. It doesn’t need to be an elaborate setup but I recommend creating a space that is conducive to your job functions and that is devoid of clutter.
- Start with one spot. Find a corner of a room that makes you feel comfortable–ideally it would be an area that offers privacy and allows you to focus.
- Try to make your workspace(s) as ergonomic as possible, we want to make this transition as metaphorically and physically painless as possible. A good chair, a proper desk, and nice lighting make all the difference in working from home day to day.
- Another reason it’s so important to set up a personal workspace is because most of us are now working in full houses. Depending on your living situation, you might find yourself getting easily distracted or often interrupted by family members or roommates. My advice, try to have your space be as separate from the commotion of the rest of the house as possible. Which brings me to another important point, set boundaries and expectations for yourself and for everyone else in the house. One signal in my house, since my husband and I share an office, we have cues–for example if one of us has headphones on, it means “Do Not Disturb”, same goes for a closed office door to everyone else in the house.
As vital as boundaries are to maintaining peace among everyone working and living in one home, boundaries set up for yourself are equally as important for your own peace of mind.
- Set a schedule. It’s no secret that before it was a requirement, working remote was a perk that offered the freedom to create your own schedule. Of course, as whole entire companies transition to remote work, it’s important to stay consistent with your colleagues’ schedules. However, I do recommend you experiment a little with your day-to-day. Try out different routines, find out when you’re most productive–pay attention to your productivity and mood and finesse the best schedule for you, while being mindful of others’ time of course.
- Remain present. It’s easier than I’d like to admit to become a hermit in your own house when you’re working from home–and doing everything else from home. Since social-distancing is our new way of life for the foreseeable future, don’t take the social interactions you have with your colleagues for granted. We all know how tempting it is to disable our cameras and attend a virtual meeting in our PJs (especially those 8am calls), but I encourage you to get on video and fully engage with your co-workers when you can.
- Take breaks. Don’t spend your entire workday hunched over your laptop trying to be a machine of productivity. We’re only human and this new lifestyle is not only isolating, but a major adjustment for most of us. So for your own good, make sure you fit regular breaks into your schedule. The benefit of working at home is added freedom–you don’t need to eat your lunch at your desk or rush to the local cafe for a bite. Take some time to whip up a meal, go for a walk and stretch, take a power nap if you need it. Remember you have options from working remote, and now more than ever we all deserve to give ourselves a little break and a little extra time. Time to adjust and time to rest.
Before I go, knowing that we are all in this together and it is together that we will come out better and stronger on the other end, I also know that there are those who will be hit harder by recent events. Our teams have identified some ways to help those who are facing the harshest repercussions of recent events below.
1. Food Banks
Remember: When donating to your local food bank, consider starting with your wallet instead of your pantry. Donating money not only gives food banks flexibility over which supplies — including fresh foods and paper products — to offer but also lets them decide when to refresh their stocks.
San Francisco-Marin Food Bank: To donate: sfmfoodbank.org/donate Chicago: Chicago Food Depository
2. Gift Cards and Online Retail for Local Businesses
With many shops, restaurants and bars operating with truncated hours or closing to the public entirely, this period will be hard on many small businesses. But that doesn’t mean there aren’t ways to support them. Even if your local haunt has temporarily shut its doors, you can see if they have an online retail presence where you can purchase the same or similar goods. Buy gift cards for your favorite restaurants and order take-out if that option remains available. And if you get things delivered, consider tipping a little extra.
3. CDC Foundation’s Coronavirus Defense Fund
Set up in the midst of the spreading pandemic, the foundation is raising funds to help communities prevent and detect Covid-19, deploy emergency staff and deliver food and medical supplies to those in need who are isolated. DONATE
The organization is using donations to send doctors, nurses and other first responders to communities in need. They will deliver essentials to the elderly and struggling families in quarantined cities. Any donations will also be put towards purchasing protective masks, ventilators and other medical supplies. DONATE
5. Save the Children
In early February, Save the Children delivered 36,000 face masks to health workers in Wuhan, the outbreak’s epicenter, and the organization has continued to make donations aimed at helping health workers. As its name implies, the charity is focused on the needs of children, and it acts proactively to support the care of the world’s most vulnerable youth. DONATE
6. Meals on Wheels
Senior citizens are a high-risk population when it comes to the Covid-19 virus. As such, many seniors are staying in to avoid undue social interactions, while many others are homebound regardless. Meals on Wheels brings much-needed food to the elderly so they can stay inside, in the comfort and safety of their homes. DONATE
7. Direct Relief
Direct Relief is partnering with government officials and health experts globally to coordinate a response to the coronavirus outbreak. So far, through its vast infrastructure, the organization has made supply deliveries to 22 countries, which have included more than 1 million medical gloves, masks and other protective gear. DONATE
8. United Nations Foundation’s COVID-19 Response Fund
The United Nations’ response fund is the first of its kind for the international body. Donations will be used to better track and understand the spread of the virus, so that workers and patients alike receive the information and care they require. Your donation will also be used to help research and accelerate the development of treatments. DONATE
9. Heart to Heart International
Infectious disease control is an area of expertise for Heart to Heart, and the organization has already sent crisis response teams to far-flung locations, such as the Marshall Islands, to support planning, preparedness and training. Donations will support those efforts. DONATE
10. Feeding America
Hunger is, unfortunately, a perennial problem, but it is made much worse when many social services and local institutions—such as public schools—are forced to close. Feeding America is the nation’s largest hunger-relief organization, and it is currently stepping into high gear as it funnels food to food pantries across the country. DONATE
11. Gates Philanthropy Partners
The Gates Foundation has already committed $100 million to fighting coronavirus, but it’s using all donations to help support its effort to swiftly develop a vaccine and treatment through its network of medical research partners. DONATE
In addition to providing protective personal equipment, Americares is also deploying experienced professionals to train health workers on the front lines. Over three tons of supplies have already been sent to China with more on the way to cities through the US. DONATE
13. American Red Cross
Possibly the most well-known disaster relief organization in the world, the Red Cross is playing a critical role in collecting blood needed for patients reeling from the coronavirus. Even if you’re unable to donate blood, financial donations can still be made to support organizational efforts to address the crisis. DONATE
14. Child Foundation
Iran has been among the hardest-hit nations in terms of the sheer number of coronavirus cases. Child Foundation is addressing the urgent need for medical supplies in the country’s hospitals by providing everything from face shields to ventilators. DONATE
15. Partners in Health
Partners in Health has gained invaluable experience responding to infectious outbreaks across the globe. The organization is now launching a coordinated, multi-pronged effort to respond to the coronavirus in the world’s most vulnerable areas. DONATE
16. Homeless Shelters
People struggling with homelessness are already among society’s most vulnerable. Lack of access to hygiene facilities puts them at even greater risk during this outbreak. Shelters everywhere are in need of supplies and food as they work to house people in the safest and healthiest (read: uncramped) conditions possible.
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