Managing remotely, effectively

During a lockdown, there’s no way to “manage by walking around.” You lose the in-person ability to observe, listen and, most importantly, learn about unexpected issues. So, for my weekly virtual meetings with direct reports, I encouraged associates to add any topics to the agenda beforehand and note how much time might be needed for each. We then used an “inform/discuss/approve” discussion framework to stay on track.

We also created roundtables to address any types of questions, such as how a projected post-Thanksgiving spike in COVID-19 cases (which actually materialized) might affect our ability to staff a lab where people need to be on site.

Cytiva's playbook for effective virtual meetings

Working from home can be socially isolating, as it eliminates the “water cooler” opportunities for deeper social bonding. To encourage these connections and conversations, some of our managers held department-wide virtual coffee-break chats for 15 to 30 minutes a few times a week to discuss non-work topics. Associates offered each other advice on a range of subjects, from buying exercise equipment to helping children apply for college during the lockdown. While the benefits are anecdotal, I’m sure these efforts help our associates feel more connected and appreciated, and encourage them to stay with us and remain committed.