Supporting your distributed team during the Coronavirus crisis

Steer73 are already a distributed team, used to working remotely. The Coronavirus crisis has not changed how we work, but it has made us look at how we can improve how we support our remote, distributed team at this time.

Whether you are already a remote team, or this has been thrust upon you, I hope that sharing our approach is useful.

With a team spread across six countries, from the USA to India, our staff are experiencing very different local conditions. As an employer we want to do what we can to support them.

In response we’ve created a small ‘peer council’.

We already run monthly 1:1s for the team and their managers, and operations provides an HR contact, but we felt it was important during this crisis to provide an additional line of support, one not tied to management, one that is more casual in nature.

The goal of the peer council is to provide an additional support function for the team, and provide another channel for ensuring that the senior team in the business understand local conditions and concerns.

We’ve split the team into three regions and nominated someone to be the representative of each region. That person is arranging group calls for their region to talk through local concerns, and they’re a go-to person that others can speak with and discuss concerns. (If your company isn’t as geographically spread you might want to split it by department, or office).

Those on the peer council are responsible for proactively reaching out to others in their region, checking in on their well-being and generally being available to discuss any issues.

The team has been empowered to structure this in any way they see fit to fulfill the goals. The approach they’ve decided to take is

Set up weekly calls for each region. These are to discuss concerns as a group Set up 1:1s in the first week, so anyone not happy speaking up in a group context has a chance to speak more privately Gather any questions, concerns or issues together from these sessions, and present them back to the CEO

Evaluate the format and repeat this weekly cycle with any changes required. The situation is moving so fast, there needs to be flexibility in the approach week to week.

This was the solution we developed to better support our people during this period. But interestingly, while it has come out from a crisis, it is something we are assessing as a long-term strategy to better connect our team together.

I hope this is useful for you and your team.