None of us predicted Covid-19, nor can anyone confidently say how long the impact will last, or how deep it will be, so it's a case of getting comfortable with the new reality.
For many research teams, disruption caused to their usual processes and ways of working will be different. As a leader of your research team, you're saddled with the challenge of leading the business while keeping things afloat (often at home and at work!) and retaining a sense of motivation among your team.
Here are some recommendations of things that we've seen work that are keeping research and insight teams together, happy, productive and delivering.
1. Maintain Your Rhythm of Communication
Every successful research team I know has a rhythm of communication with their team. Whether that’s a Monday morning huddle, a monthly town-hall meeting, or quarterly planning sessions to look back and plan forward.
When working remotely, it is important that you do not lose the discipline and maintain a similar rhythm. This will keep the momentum of work high, and provide a sense of stability for your research team.
2. Do a ‘Check-In’ and ‘Check-Out’
Scheduling regular check-ins, in the morning, help your research team maintain a sense of routine while working from home. It can be a simple round robin of what everyone is focusing on via Zoom video chat, or it could be a written check-in via your Slack channel or whatever communication tool you are using.
This can also be an opportunity for you to discuss any changes, and for you to invite your research team to provide answers. Remember, as a team or business leader, you don’t have to be a hero or give all the answers all the time.
Equally, at the end of the day, have a check-out in the same form. This enables your team to bring up any obstacles they’ve faced, and unload before they take rest and prepare for the day. What's more, it projects a positive end to each day and brings the team together.
3. Schedule Group Training Sessions
Irrespective of Covid-19, your team want to feel proud of their work and accomplishments. If it makes sense for your team, schedule in some short (approx. 15 minutes) training sessions, where your team members take turns in teaching everyone else. This up-skills everyone, and it also gives your research team confidence and pride in their work.
You may also want to include topics that are more personal or individual rather than business-related. This could be financial (mortgage / rental / loans) support, mental health, dealing with housemates or family, or any other relevant topic.
Your research team will feel a greater sense of belonging when you mix both personal and business into these trainings.
4. Schedule One-to-Ones
Private, individual calls with your research team is critical to maintaining a sense of connection and support.
Ask them to step away from their desks for the call – so they can walk and talk, which we know is healthier for discussion. It also brings the conversation to a more personal place.
5. Have Open and Optional Virtual Lunches
Your research team might be keen to just get on with their work, while others might choose to exercise at more irregular hours than others. But for many people, working from home all alone is a lonely task that's loaded with challenges.
When you schedule an open lunch with your research team, it gives a boost to your lonely team members. It's a no-agenda event that is fun and relaxed, and inspires personal conversation rather than work chat.
Let conversation happen naturally and allow the team to drop in and out as they wish – it really helps the midday push to get back to work.
6. Create Weekly Challenges
A great way to keep people motivated is to introduce an element of fun into the work environment.
Things that we've seen have a lot of success includes:
- Bake Day – everyone needs to bake a cake or something delicious and present it.
- Hat Day– at all meetings that day, everyone has to wear a hat!
- Best T-Shirt contest
- Dress-up Friday – instead of dress down Friday, on Friday everyone has to make an effort to dress specially.
- Virtual Pub Quiz
You can ask your research team to create challenges themselves to get even more engagement and make it more fun for them.
7. End the Week with Virtual Drinks
Congratulations! Your team made it to the end of another challenging week of remote working, so celebrate it!
Organise virtual drinks / pizza / cake, and, again, make it fun and informal.
As a research leader, recognise the challenges people face, but then steer them towards the progress, achievements and the light at the end of the tunnel.
Be humble and humorous, and make sure that no matter how difficult it has been, you’re ending it on a high note (with your team).
For some, like those with young families (speaking from my personal experiences), adapting to working from home might be harder than for others. I hope that these tips will help you lead your research team from the front and keep morale and productivity high.
If you have any further tips that are working for you, let us know at email@example.com
If your team has more downtime than you'd like, which let's face it is highly likely right now, why not upskill them with some help from Further's expert team.