How can you and your team adjust to our new remote reality? 

To help professionals address this challenge successfully, we hosted a panel that addressed the topic at this year’s Biz Systems Magic Conference.

The virtual panel was moderated by Dave Smith, a Principal Analyst at Inflow Analysis, where he was joined by leaders in IT, Operations, and Engineering at companies like Veeva Systems, iindividual, and GitLab.

Each of these leaders have had unique experiences in adjusting to the pandemic, which puts them in a position to offer unique and thoughtful insights for navigating it more easily. We’ll highlight 6 takeaways that you can take back to your work, but you catch all of their ideas by watching the session here.

1. Document Everything

Justin Stark, a Staff Data Engineer at Gitlab, recommends documenting everything

Stark and his team have found the practice invaluable. It allows them to get their work done without having to ask someone (as the answer likely lives in an existing document), and it also helps everyone get on the same page.

He gave examples, like having a handbook that people can refer to, or taking notes on what transpired during a meeting so that when people have to miss it, they can easily get up to speed.

You can learn more about GitLab’s approach to remote work by reading this impressive guide they’ve put together!

2. Put Compassion Into Action

Natasha Irani, the Head of Global IT Business Systems at Veeva, spoke on the idea of connecting with employees on a more personal level during this period of uncertainty and physical isolation.

She stressed that leaders should help people feel seen and heard, explaining that  “Compassionate leadership is not just saying I feel your pain. It’s asking, what can I do to help?” 

She also walked through 3 ways that Veeva as an organization is leading with compassion:      

  • They’ve implemented recurring “town halls” across offices. 
  • On Sundays, the company’s CEO sends out a personal email to the entire company. 
  • Employees with families are able to sign up for ready-cooked dinner kits. 

These were company-wide actions, but you can use them as inspiration for meeting the personal needs of your systems team. 

3. Encourage Employees to Block Off Time on Their Calendars

Allison King from iindividual, discussed the importance of simply blocking off time on your calendar. 

From a productivity standpoint, she touched on the reality that sometimes you simply need alone time to get things done—whether it’s prepping for your meetings or performing your work more thoroughly.  

But blocking off time shouldn’t be done exclusively for work.

Stark from Gitlab, explained that his company has a family and friends-first, work-second culture (which they’ve even documented in their handbook). This helps him and his colleagues feel comfortable blocking off time to do everyday personal tasks, such as taking care of their kids.

Irani highlighted the top-down impact of blocking off personal time:

“When you see your C-level executives having this (personal time) marked (in their calendars), I think you don’t have to feel guilty about it.”

4. Plan the New Hire Experience  

In normal times, you greet new hires face-to-face and work on making them feel included in the office. 

Now that that dynamic has been flipped, Irani has spent time on developing a plan that can help them feel welcome from home.

“A lot of my focus and energy went around having a plan for the new hire folks, making sure that they have their 90-day plan. What are you going to do? Who are the people you need to meet? How do we integrate you better into the team so you feel part of the team” said Irani. 

Before bringing on new members to your systems team, consider sitting down and mapping out an onboarding experience that’s effective while we work remotely.   

5. Set Clear and Effective Performance Indicators

Stark from Gitlab explained how some organizations translate staying late to performing well. In reality, when employees work more, they often aren’t more productive. 

Instead of time spent at work, Stark recommends providing a better measurement of productivity and to make sure that your employees are aligned on what that looks like.

That way, your team can focus more on true productivity while working remotely versus what Stark calls “time in seat”. 

6. Enable Your Teams to Keep Learning

Even as your employees in business systems work from home, they’re eager to advance in their careers. 

You can help nurture their learning and development with a few simple steps. For instance, Stark from Gitlab explained that his company’s employees are reimbursed for any courses that are relevant to their work, and they’re encouraged to work on them during work hours.

The company’s commitment to learning is echoed in their handbook, which further encourages Gitlab employees to invest in their development and growth. 

It’s Time to Take Action

Whether it’s documenting everything to help employees have peace of mind or planning your new-hire experience so that employees feel included right from the onset, all of these tips include some level of empathy. And let’s face it, that’s something we can use now more than ever.

Want more nuggets of wisdom from these leaders? You can watch the entire recap here.

Tayleur Hylton
About Tayleur Hylton

Tayleur is a budding technology enthusiast helping to grow the business systems community.