There wasn’t a lot of time to come up with a rock-solid plan for how to lead a remote workforce when the pandemic hit. CEOs, like everyone else, went into an entirely new mode of working, leading their teams through a year like no other without a playbook or a crystal ball.
One of the biggest shifts was the sudden transition from in-person offices to remote work. No more spontaneous check-ins, on-the-spot brainstorming, or reading facial cues to detect moods. All that was gone.
“The biggest challenge has been not having that collaboration time to talk with someone on the elevator and get their opinion,” says Michelle Mills Clement, CAE, CEO of the Chicago Association of Realtors (CAR). “What I find with remote work is, you have to force that in. It’s not organic.”
A challenge for Sara Fidler, president of the Maryland Independent College and University Association, was that none of MICUA’s six staffers worked remotely before the pandemic. Fidler was the only one with a laptop.
But her team adapted well—and quickly. Some employees took home a few older laptops that MICUA had on hand, and others opted to use their own computers. Fidler increased the mobile device stipend for those using their own devices. Since September, she has bought a few employees new laptops, funded by an increased tech budget the organization had adopted before the pandemic.
One upside to that rapid shift, Fidler says, has been the flexibility it has given her team members. Employees who wanted to start working earlier shifted their hours, and the stress of sitting in traffic was removed. The flexibility has made her team happier and more productive. “This is time for innovation,” she says.