At this point, many companies have instituted work at home policies.  And, assuming that the organizations have taken the right steps to secure their remote workers and increase their bandwidth to handle the increased loads and redundancies, business can get back to the new normal, correct?

Not quite.  The key to managing remotely is communication.  And I’m not talking about emails from the company referencing COVID-19.  I’m talking about ongoing communication that keeps the staff engaged, strengthens the culture and overcomes isolation.

There are many ways to do this.  Here are a few you can do right away.

  1.  Daily virtual standup meetings.  Have your teams jump on a video call same time each day to have a quick chat about what went well and what blockers have come up since the prior days call.  Make it video so people can see each other which improves the socialization aspect of the meeting.
  2. Catch them doing something good.  Each day call out someone for doing something well, especially if it involves helping clients or each other.  Support is now a key differentiator and it should be rewarded.
  3. Conduct white-hat phishing exercises.  Phishing hasn’t gone away.  In fact, COVID-19 has given the bad guys something else to use a lure.  Keep your team digitally aware by running phishing simulations, but let them know you are doing it and reward them for any phish they report.  That way you both sensitive the team to be on the lookout for suspicious emails and keep them positively engaged at the same time.
  4. Step up security training for privileged users.  With the changes to network access and perhaps the installation of additional technologies to support remote access, it is critical you spend the time with your systems, application and network teams on security role-based training to ensure that the assets are appropriately configured.  Misconfiguration poses a large cyber threat in the best of times;  even more so now.  Of course, make sure you are catching them doing something good, as well. (See #2 above.)
  5. Create standing “tea-times”.  Let’s face it, part of working together is socialization.  For teams not used to working remotely (and therefore not used to connecting with each other on a social basis remotely), carve out some time each day which permits them to reach out and talk to each other about whatever they want.  You don’t have to over engineer this, giving permission might be all you need to do.

The resilience of an organization’s ability to respond to any challenge is in no small part due to the strength and resilience of its culture.  Focusing on, communicating with, and recognizing your staff will go a long way to keep people working together.  Even when they’re apart.

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