The year 2020 has been anything but smooth sailing with the Coronavirus Pandemic shutting down the workplace for almost every company across the globe. As many of us know far too well, the traditional ways of the working office are no longer applicable to the newly adopted online office. Without face-to-face contact with colleagues, companies have made necessary adjustments to how they manage the virtual office space. WISE Boston held an online panel to discuss the new challenges leadership roles are facing working remotely.
Communication has proven to be the key to success. While you need to clearly state your expectations to keep your team motivated, the role of leader has taken on far more responsibility. The general feel of unease for employees across the country means that managers need to be extremely transparent. More honest conversations need to be had, letting your team know that you’ll fight for them and have their back in a time when the threat of layoffs and furloughs are a possibility. This communication needs to happen frequently so that your employees feel both respected and heard. During these uncertain times, giving weekly updates helps settle some nerves. Even if you, as a leader, don’t necessarily know what the next steps look like, just saying “we will keep you updates as soon as we are given new information,” shows an effort.
The introduction of Zoom has proven to be both a saving grace and a challenge for some. At the beginning of the Coronavirus Pandemic, it seemed that every conversation had to be held over a Zoom call to ensure that everyone saw that people were still doing their jobs. This has urged leadership roles to develop a stronger level of trust amongst their teams, to understand that they are still doing their work, regardless if they are being seen doing so. With that understanding also came the recognition that lives flow differently. Understanding colleagues’ schedules and realizing they may not be on during traditional hours, but are still working hard is critical.
Across the board, a lot of work still needs to happen around diversity and inclusion. One panel attendee, Kim, stated: “it needs to start at the lowest level with internships and entry level positions. These decisions start from the top, but there needs to be a committed, concrete plan that the entry class has to be diverse. From there, more work needs to be done on the senior level. In sports, which are historically male dominated, more women have found their way to the top in recent years.” That being said, with women continuing to climb the ladder in sports fields, women of color still need to be a priority for inclusion. As leaders that are going through the hiring process, it is crucial that you take on the social, ethical, and moral responsibility of introducing members of underrepresented racial groups into your companies.
As companies work towards reopening in the upcoming months, it would be remiss to think that things will immediately go back to “normal”. Especially in the sports industry it is clear it will be a while before the sporting events we know and love return to us. The panel can all agree that we need to remember that everyone is human. We are all working to get through these tough times as best as we can. As a leader adapting to the new virtual workplace, you must show understanding for those you already work with, and be held responsible to commit to inclusion during the next round of hiring.