According to the 2021 State of Marketing report, 75% percent of marketers say the pandemic has permanently shifted how they collaborate and communicate at work. Now whether this is good or bad is what I would like to share and discuss with you.
In life, I naturally chose the positive side of things and live my life as a glass-half-full type. I temper my optimism with a healthy dose of realism too – nobody benefits from toxic positivity.
Even through the pandemic, I’ve primarily been choosing to see the small upsides of the situation, although some days that’s been tough (even for me). (Multiple rounds of home school quarantine, anyone?)
So, let’s take a look at the positive impact that the pandemic has had on team alignment.
Remote Work: Forging a Culture of Connection
C&C has been a virtual firm since Jay Baer founded it in 2008. We’ve had team members from NYC to LA, Portland to Orlando and many stops in between for the last 13 years. We thrive in a work from home arrangement, across multiple time zones, while only seeing each other in person ONCE per year.
We’ve all entered the C&C family knowing this set up and while some folded right into the work-in-your-slippers mentality, others had a more steep learning curve on self discipline ahead.
One commonality across the decade and more while we’ve been WFH is that we each still crave and seek out connection with our coworkers. We have slack-style chats, personal text threads and monthly virtual happy hours. Even across the miles, pandemic or not, we have established a culture of connection. It takes intention and effort to keep that connection, but each team member wouldn’t be here without it.
The Intersection of Professional and Personal
We recently conducted research with Ascend2 on team alignment and I was shocked in the best way possible. The stat that struck me the most was: 76% of our respondents are strongly integrated or totally integrated.
To me the word “integrated” has importance here. Has the perception of “integrated” changed with the pandemic? In my past corporate experience, integration equated to one hour a week around a conference table where an agenda was followed and updates went in order. It ended up sounding like Charlie Brown’s mom “waaaa, whaaaa, wa, waaaaaa, wa, wa.”
Now, through the broader application of work from home, for better or for worse, everyone is literally IN each other’s home via video conference. What used to be possibly a passing “hi” in the hallway is now an introduction of a child who enters the frame or an apology for a pet barking as the doorbell rings. We have all been forced to integrate into one another’s home settings.
We have seen a new side of coworkers. We have met more of their life outside of the office, and have all been impacted at the same time by a global change in how we work, shop, visit and view our health.
This intersection of our personal and professional lives has never existed as collectively before, and I truly believe for many teams it increases their integration with each other for the better.
Empathy Brought On By The New Normal
The humanity of team members has become more tangible in this new world. With COVID involved, people are more empathetic towards each other. We all had to adjust our lives at home and at work.
Every organization has been forced to “figure it out” – figure out how to communicate, connect and keep working among office shutdowns. Each person has had to reconfigure their home into a workspace at some point in the last 18 months. And we did it.
What I appreciate very much is that working from home can often give a deeper understanding of each other’s ability to relate and integrate. We witnessed how each of us managed our at-home work space and new outside interruptions during a history-making, life-altering pandemic.
I understand that our culture here at C&C is different and special. But I have heard from many clients that they are proud of their team, that working from home is going to continue because they are being successful and the alignment of the goals is better than before.
Prioritize Your Team’s Connection
We’ve evolved from a question of “how do you integrate two teams” to optimizing and using technology to increase integration with other teams in the organization.
In my pre-pandemic work life, we discussed things like “lunch and learns” and “ride alongs” as well as “mutual goal setting meetings” around team alignment. Now we are finding much more common ground among us and a more genuine “how are you?” and “is everyone healthy” has a new meaning to mankind – therefore bringing us together and teams together.
If this sounds like Utopia to you – a foreign space that is nowhere close to the reality of your professional experience – I’ll offer some advice. What I am describing is not fictional or only associated with our wonderful C&C team. There are hundreds of open positions at organizations who are aligned in goals, believe in a people-first culture, and support connection. I urge you to seek them.
If you lead an organization, you must be the model. You owe it to your staff to connect and align them as well. You owe it to them to be genuine and carve out time for 1:1 and team interaction. The world is still hurting and keeping your best team members connected and not feeling alone, will increase your productivity and success by more than your bottom line.
If you are wanting this type of connection among your team but are unsure how to make it happen, our team would be happy to help.