Communication During COVID and Crisis [Part 2/6]: Operations


In part 1 we talked a little about an overview. I offered three tips for changing your mindset about the current situation. The blog post has various helpful links. A summary of the tips is below. But, ultimately, remember:

  • Don’t panic.

  • Go virtual where you can.

  • Be strategic with information.

Today, I want to talk a little about operations as a whole. What are you doing day-to-day and how are you preparing for the future?

Day-to-Day Operations

Let’s talk day-to-day first:

Remote work has been forced into the very fabric of our lives. We are finding, quickly, what can and cannot be performed in a virtual or digital context. For some of you, the concept of digital operations performed remotely may make you cringe, and I get it! But, your younger workers, while they may not appreciate why they have to work from home, may appreciate the flexibility.

But, here’s the deal, we cannot assume that this new normal is an exact replication (or should be) of our regular business proceedings. This is a unique environment and a unique context. As such, you may have been forced into flexibility, but, maybe, it is for the best.

Personally, I have been inundated with virtual meeting requests even to the point where bible studies, church services, and church small groups have moved digital. This has, for me, really brought to mind how much time I am spending looking at my screen. Don’t underestimate this.

Managing Newly Remote Workers

Harvard Business Review has a great article on managing your newly remote workers. A few encouragements from them:

  • Be structured with check-ins

  • Provide several different communication options (but don’t provide all)

  • Think about your rules of engagement

  • Create remote (social) interaction

  • Your people are people-offer support

All of this leads to my first suggested tip.

Tip 1- Think creatively about remote work. Instead of always doing video chats, can you do conference calls, use a tool for instant messaging or collaborative document creation. But, don’t fear remote work!

Ultimately, remote work is still work and the show must go on but to assume that the show will be exactly the same may be a little unrealistic. Instead, re-frame your thinking for helping your staff. As you think about encouraging remote work where appropriate, you also have to know what tools to use. Zapier created a loooong list of remote work apps. It’s great. I have my preferences and if you want to hear them, I would be happy to provide, so just send me an email at michaelstrawser@legacyctc.com. But, keep in mind, hundreds of tools exist. Don’t select all tools. Instead, be strategic and fiscally responsible.

Tip 2: Select Remote Work Tools Carefully

The work of the day is important to the task at hand for nonprofits. You must still exist, survive, and thrive. But, as a nonprofit leader, it is not important to only set the work tone but also care em pathetically and emphatically for your staff. I am going to talk more about communicating internally in Part 4, but you must remember to care for employees, staff and other stakeholders right now.

What are a few simple ways this can be accomplished?

1) Educate employees on COVID-19, make sure you are all speaking the same language

2) Follow sanctioned guidelines

3) Reduce employee travel and interaction

4) Provide essential technology

Tip 3- Care for Employees and Stakeholders

Finally, remember, you are a voice of credibility. Risk Alternatives provides up-to-date resources to mitigate Coronavirus nonprofit risk management. You must be informed.

Tip 4- Be informed yourself! You are a voice of credibility.

Navigating the Future

The four tips above are helpful day-to-day suggestions but what about a year from now? Five years from now? This is a ‘great’ (I use that term loosely) time to review your budget, continuity plan, overall operations and policies/procedures. Review policies for remote work, think now about future crisis situations so that the next pandemic (hopefully never) will not catch you ill-prepared.

Tip 5- Review big picture operations. Think about critical services and put your volunteer workforce in those critical services.

Tip 6- Don’t overwhelm. There is a lot of clutter right now. Stay true to your brand, serve your stakeholders, communicate with your board, streamline resources.

Questions? Comments? Other struggles? Send me an email michaelstrawser@legacyctc.com or visit my website www.legacyctc.com. Let me know how I can help. Also, feel free to check out these other resources:

TEDx on Generational Differences in the Workplace

WHAS 840 Interview on Generational Differences

Next Gen Philanthropy and Generational Differences/Giving

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