Now that I’m one-week into working remotely, I’ve given some thought to this “new normal” I’m now working and living in. For me the new normal has replaced video conferencing with face-to-face meetings, using a chat feature rather than dropping by someone’s office, and email as the communication tool I rely heavily on (even more than usual) to communicate and share information with my team to keep us moving forward. It took me about three days (your mileage may vary) to feel as though I was settled back into something that resembled a normal work day. I resumed my habit of picking a highlight to work on each day. And I began starting my day with those tasks or projects rather than checking email or our chat stream. Resuming that practice made me feel as though my day had a real purpose, beyond crisis management that had taken over in previous weeks. I’m expecting that I may not be able to devote time each day to my highlight, however I’m trying to make a conscious effort to accomplish real work while working remotely. As I’ve begun to adjust to this new normal, I’ve noticed a few things that have eased my transition, and kept me focused as a leader:
Video conference etiquette: Prior to transitioning to remote work, our leadership team and I developed a communication plan to guide our work. At the beginning of our first division meeting via video conferencing, I reminded our faculty and staff about that plan, and did a refresher on our ground rules. These are meeting norms that we developed to guide our in-person division meetings, and it’s important to maintain those norms, even more so now. The norms include watching your air time, being on time to the meeting, keeping the meeting to its 1-hour block, and reading any materials beforehand that get sent out. In addition, I asked our faculty and staff to minimize other tech distractions while we meet. I acknowledged that for safety reasons silencing a cell phone may not be feasible. However, checking social media while we meet, isn’t a behavior I want to condone.
Strong facilitator: When video conferencing with more than one or two people, the need for a strong facilitator becomes even more important than during in-person meetings. Our division meetings include a round robin, and during our first remote meetings, it became clear that I needed a substitute for “Ok let’s go around the table.” Many people were too polite and worried about interrupting, so there was often radio silence. Next time, I’m going to explain our new “table” is the list of names as they appear in our video conferencing tool indicating people have joined the meeting. I’m also going to actively call on people to encourage them to begin sharing. My hope would be that by taking a more active role to keep the conversation moving, we may be able to get over some of these politeness hurdles and have a better flow to our meetings.
Sharing what you’re learning: Like many libraries, my leadership team and I are strongly encouraging our colleagues to engage in professional development while we’re working remotely. I like to think we have a strong culture of engagement already. However we want to be sure and keep that learning going. One of the things we do when someone comes back from attending a conference or workshop is to ask them to share a few key take-aways from their experience. The thinking behind this is that not all of us can go to everything that’s out there. However, sharing the learning is critically important to me and helps to maintain a learner mindset. Working remotely shouldn’t diminish our opportunity to share. We created a Box note for people to add information. During each division meeting, there’ll be an opportunity to talk more about their experiences and for others to ask questions.
What does your new normal look like???