Maintaining An Effective Team As They Start to Work from Home

by Apr 25, 2020Change Culture

Well, here we are. Moving to full lockdown where all companies will need to have all staff working from home. For companies that have enabled flexible working the transition will be easier however all team leaders need to be mindful of what adjustments they need to make if they want to maintain a positive & productive team culture.

Reinvention Opportunity

The first thing I would suggest is to reframe this change as a reinvention opportunity. If you are worried about individual performance, and keeping business-critical projects going, then this is a great opportunity to learn new techniques and tools that will raise the performance of your teams.

A couple of things you need to know right off the bat.

1. Remote teams are effective; sometimes more so. Feel confident that remote working teams are highly effective. I’d suggest you change your language from working from home to a ‘remote working’ team. Reinvent the type of team that you are.

2. Create winning routines. You will need to adopt new routines that will support your people to know when and how you will all connect. Focus on quality human connection, making sure your people continue to feel part of a team. You will be embedding new ways of workings, if you focus on your people and how they feel during this change, you will be winning.

3. Embrace MINDFLEX; any form of change is not easy, especially when it is thrust upon us, and we have lost control of so many things. We are all been challenged, so this IS the time to throw out assumptions, get comfortable with new ways of working and adopt a curious mindset to see what actually works vs what you believe will work.

As you design your remote working team what would be some SUGGESTIONS that I would make to how you operate?

1. Introduce a weekly team HUDDLE

Now, more than ever we all need to feel part of something. Nothing motivates us more than feeling like what we do matters, and that we are part of a group aligned on a common WHY. Nurturing relationships is the fuel for a high performing team. Simon Sinek recently shared how his team does their weekly huddle. It is 100% focused on the humans in his team. Not about the work. Watch the clip as it is a fantastic peek into how new leadership operates.

How does Simon Sinek’s team run a weekly HUDDLE?


  • The words that the team use
  • How supportive, vulnerable & strong the team is
  • That diversity of people and thinking is embraced.
  • The HIPPO doesn’t lead.
  • That while they are all on a virtual call, they are a TEAM. You must use video if you are to achieve this.

2. Kill the HIPPO

HIPPO = Highest Paid Person’s Opinion

Effective change management (inc designing & implementing new processes) occurs when leaders allow team members to lead. Right now I imagine you are needing to make a whole lot of new decisions. Rather than putting all the pressure on yourself, why don’t you delegate the thinking & deciding to some or all of your team? It is actually more effective to allow staff to decide what to do (democracy), and then you define the implementation parameters including timeframes and budgets (dictatorship). When you fully allow staff to participate in designing new approaches, you actually achieve 14% productivity gains. So why don’t you remove yourself from some of the heavy lifting, and see what decisions your staff actually recommend? Leverage the thinking and skills of your team. While at the same time keeping them engaged.

If you want to read more about why you need to beware of the HIPPO, read this article from Corporate Rebels (

A study at the Rotterdam School of Management found that projects led by junior managers had a higher success rate than those led by more senior ones.

Why? In projects led by junior managers, employees were more comfortable offering opinions, challenging assumptions and giving honest feedback. These contributions improved results. In teams with senior managers, the junior members feared voicing their opinions.

3. USE online collaboration tools

Use the online tools available to enhance your team’s collaboration and effectiveness. This is how I think about the tools available.

1. Projects and Progress

Make sure everyone can see what everyone is working on, key dates and milestones. We so often work in silos when in the office, and the last thing you want right now is for members of your team to become isolated, and not feel like they are ALL achieving.

To avoid burnout, we don’t need huge accomplishments. We just need small wins. The strongest predictor of engagement at work is a sense of daily progress. We gain energy and efficacy in moments of learning, problem-solving, and helping.

Adam Grant – Organisational Psychologist & Professor, Wharton

Here are some online tools that we use at Divergent Consulting:

2. Team & customer meetings

Embrace virtual calling & collaboration platforms. Virtual calling platforms are also suitable for customer calls and ensure that you CAN have quality conversations as well as move ahead with workshops by pivoting them to virtual workshops..

What are some of our favourite platforms?

Check out this article for the best features in Zoom.

Considering running a large virtual workshop? Good advice in this article;

3. Build communities

 think this is the perfect time to deviate from our conventional thinking And to take some inspiration from people and companies who have been leveraging online communities for a while. Using chat tools is highly effective but maybe consider breaking some rules to how you might have thought about using them. Why not allow your team to set up hobby groups, or schedule virtual coffee breaks. This is the time to allow your teams to connect in whatever ways help them stay connected. Allow everyone to show up in ways that work for them, don’t tell them what to do. Let them decide.

Taking some inspiration from Seth Godin, he has opened up his online co-working space, and in there you can join Zoom rooms; The quiet room or the coffee break room.

Why not set up your own versions that work for your team.

We like using SLACK for creating threads for conversations and quick chats. We also use the chat function in Basecamp as well; it is ideal for chats linked to a specific project.

Ultimately these tools are great to get you & your team out of your inbox, and they ensure everyone is across everything at the same time; that has to be the goal.

Here is a great summary on how to maximise SLACK when working remotely. Take note of the idea to have one channel dedicated to company announcements, something everyone will be doing right now. Much better than announcements been lost in the inbox, and so much easier for people to catch up on later in one place.


Divergent is a life sciences transformation partner; We are your people capability partner, committed to accelerating your organisation’s CX & omnichannel transformation goals. 

Divergent is on a mission to transform life science commercial teams into the powerhouses we know they can be. Too much potential in commercial teams goes to waste – but it doesn’t have to be that way. 

Through our Tomorrows Bridge Builders team program & Today-Tomorrow leaders program, Divergent harnesses a team’s potential to help them accelerate the evolution of customer engagement strategies & be equipped for sustained change.