This week, GV General Partner (and TechCrunch alum) MG Siegler joined us on Extra Crunch Live for a far-ranging chat about what it takes to foster a good relationship between investor and startup, how portfolio management and investing has changed as the COVID-19 crisis drags on, and what Siegler expects will and won’t stick around in terms of changes in behavior in investment and entrepreneurship once the pandemic passes.
We last caught up with Siegler on the heels of his investment in Universe, a mobile-focused, e-commerce business-building startup. The coronavirus pandemic was relatively new and no one was sure how long it would last or what measures to contain it would look like. Now, with a few months of experience under his belt, Siegler told me that things have relatively settled into a new normal from his perspective as an investor – sometimes for worse, sometimes for better, but mostly just resulting in differences that require adaptation.
This select transcript has been edited for length and clarity. Aside from section headers, all text below is taken from MG Siegler’s responses to my questions.
Business impacts of coping with the pandemic six months on
Justtalkingaboutthebusinesssideoftheequation,Idothinkthatthingshavesortofstabilizedin theday-to-dayworldhere. Forus,certainly,Ithinkit’sit’sjustasmuchofafactorthough,of justlearninghowtooperateinthisinthisweirdandsurrealenvironment,andknowinghowtodoremotemeetingsbetter. KnowinghowtohoponquickZoomcalls,Hangouts, andphonecalls,withportfoliocompanies,tohelpputoutfires, and doingallboardmeetingsremotely,andallthatsortofstuff.
That seemslikeit’sprettystraightforwardonpaper,butinday-to-dayoperations,thesearealldifferentlittlelearningthingsthatyouhavetodoandcomeacross.I dofeellikethingsareoperatinginaprettystreamlinedmanner, orasmuchastheycanbeatthispoint.But,youknow,there’salwaysgoingtobesomemorewildcards – like we’reaweekaway,today,fromfromtheUSelection.
Cybersecurity entrepreneur and crypto personality John McAfee’s wild ride could be coming to an end after he was arrested in Spain today, and now faces extradition to the U.S. over charges spanning tax evasion and fraud.
The SEC accuses McAfee of being paid more than $23.1 million worth of cryptocurrency assets for promoting a number of ICO token sales without disclosing that he was being paid to do so. Furthermore the DOJ has levied a number of counts of tax evasion against McAfee, saying that he “willfully attempted to evade” payment of income taxes owed to the federal government.
The DOJ’s charges against McAfee are a bit dry, but detail 10 counts against the entrepreneur. McAfee faced five counts of tax evasion, which each carry a maximum penalty of five years in prison, as well as five counts of “willful failure to file a tax return,” each carrying a maximum penalty of one year in prison.
The SEC filing is a much more interesting read, with 55 pages detailing a lengthy investigation into McAfee’s alleged fraudulent activity promoting a number of ICOs throughout 2017 and 2018. The report specifically notes that McAfee allegedly received more than $11.6 million worth of BTC and ETH tokens for promoting seven ICOs. Unfortunately, those offerings were not named in the suit. He additionally received $11.5 million worth of the promoted tokens, the suit alleges.
Rent the Runway and Glossier became unicorns within the same week in June 2019. That same year, only 2.7% of venture capital dollars went toward female-founded companies.
Silicon Valley’s disconnect between the monetary success of female-founded companies and funding them in the first place is disheartening. The conversation is there, but the dollar sign momentum remains missing.
Anu Duggal founded the Female Founders Fund before both were even a tangible reality. In 2014, the entrepreneur launched her first fund to invest in female-led startups. It took her 700 meetings over two years to make that first close, she said. Years later, venture capital has slightly taken note. But the Female Founders Fund, or “F Cubed,” has tracked female-led wins and bet big on the underestimated asset class.
Her early focus on female founders hasn’t evolved, but the landscape has. And in an unprecedented world of remote deals and democratization of venture capital, we’re even more excited to have Duggal join us on Extra Crunch Live this upcoming Thursday at 11 a.m. PT/2 p.m. EST/6 p.m. GMT
Those tuning in and taking notes are encouraged to ask questions, but you have to be an Extra Crunch member to access the chat. If you still haven’t signed up, now’s your chance! With the subscription, you’ll also be able to check out all of our stellar previous guests on-demand (watch those episodes here).
Female Founders Fund has provided seed institutional capital to entrepreneurs with over $3 billion in enterprise value. The firm has cut checks into women-led companies such as Rent the Runway, Billie, Tala, Peanut, Thrive Global and Zola. The fund has also attracted limited partners like Melinda Gates and Girls Who Code founder Reshma Saujani.
Duggal herself has a fascinating trajectory into technology investing. At 25, she started a wine bar in Bombay called The Tasting Room. She went on to get an MBA from London Business School, and co-founded Exclusively.in, an e-commerce company that got acquired by Indian fashion e-commerce company Myntra in 2011.
Hear from Duggal on August 20 about how the investment landscape has changed for female founders, what she thinks of as a success story and if 2020 feels different than 2014. And Extra Crunch fam, make sure to bring your thoughtful questions for me to ask her live on air.
You can find the full details of the conversation below the jump.
As TikTok’s existential rollercoaster ride continues to rattle on, the company is trying to sway regulators and the public with a flood of dollars and arguments wrapped in free enterprise and free speech to ensure that its parent company Bytedance can retain control of its operations.
“With any Internet platform, we should be concerned about the risk that sensitive private data will be funneled to abusive governments, including our own,” the ACLU wrote in a subsequent statement. “But shutting one platform down, even if it were legally possible to do so, harms freedom of speech online and does nothing to resolve the broader problem of unjustified government surveillance.”
Meanwhile, the sentiment in China seems resigned to the U.S. forcing Bytedance to divest of its US interests. In a survey by Sina Technology on the social media platform, Weibo asking what people think of Bytedance potentially selling TikTok to Microsoft, 36.7k of the total 75.3k respondents saw it as “a reluctant and helpless solution that’s understandable,” while 35.1k said they are “disappointed and hope [the company] can hold up for a bit more”. https://m.weibo.cn/1642634100/4533238409991735
Even as ownership of the service remains an open question, the company moved quickly to reassure its users that TikTok would continue to operate in the U.S.
The company is also redoubling its efforts to appeal to creators even as it faces defections over its potential mishandling of user data.
On Tuesday, a clutch of the company’s largest celebrities, with a collective audience of some 47 million viewers, abandoned the platform for its much smaller competitor, Triller.
Founded in 2015, two years before TikTok began its explosive rise to prominence, Triller is backed by some of the biggest names in American music and entertainment including Snoop Dogg, The Weeknd, Marshmello, Lil Wayne, Juice WRLD, Young Thug, Kendrick Lamar, Baron Davis, Tyga, TI, Jake Paul and Troy Carter.
Now, TikTok stars Josh Richards, Griffin Johnson, Noah Beck and Anthony Reeves are joining their ranks as investors and advisors. Richards, Johnson, Beck and Reeves are also being compensated by Triller, but the reason they cited for leaving the service are the security concerns from governments.
Triller is compensating Richards, Johnson, Beck, and Reeves, though the details of the deals are undisclosed. Despite that, the creators say they’re leaving TikTok because they’ve grown wary of the Chinese-owned company’s security practices.
“After seeing the U.S. and other countries’ governments’ concerns over TikTok—and given my responsibility to protect and lead my followers and other influencers—I followed my instincts as an entrepreneur and made it my mission to find a solution,” Richards, who’s assuming the title of chief strategy officer, told the LA Times.
TikTok has responded by announcing a dramatic increase in the company’s creator fund. Initially set at $200 million, in a blog post earlier this week, TikTok chief executive Kevin Mayer announced that the fund would reach $1 billion over the next three years.
TikTok’s charm offensive may stave off the assaults, but the company will need to address concerns around user data. It’s the most pressing threat to the company and the one it’s least equipped to deal with.
There are many painful ways for a startup to fail — including founders who ultimately throw in the towel and turn off the lights.
But assuming a founder intends to keeps moving forward, there are a few pitfalls that Garry Tan has seen during his career as a founder, Y Combinator partner and, lately, co-founder of venture firm Initialized Capital.
During a fun chat during last week’s TechCrunch Early Stage, he ran us through these avoidable mistakes; for those who couldn’t virtually attend, we’re sharing them with you here.
1. Chasing the wrong problem
This sounds insane, right? How can you be blamed for wanting to solve a problem?
Tan says people choose the wrong problem for a wide variety of reasons: Founders sometimes choose a problem that isn’t problematic for enough people, he said, citing the example of a hypothetical 25-year-old San Francisco-based engineer who may be out of touch with the rest of the country. When founders target the wrong problem, it typically means that the market will be too small for a venture-like return.
That Vicariously app you might have seen pop up in your twitter feed via a little viral growth hacking has run aground on Twitter’s automation rules. We reached out about it after it started spamming my feed with ‘so and so has added you to a list’ notifications and Twitter says that the app is not in compliance.
To be fair, they did also say they ‘love’ it — but that it will have to find a different way to do what it does.
“We love that Vicariously uses Lists to help people find new accounts to follow and get new perspectives. However, the way the app is currently doing this is in violation of Twitter’s automation rules,” Twitter said in a statement. “We’ve reached out to them to find a way to bring the app into compliance with our rules.”
The app, which you can find here, enumerates the followers of a target account and builds a list out of the accounts that it follows. This enables you to create lists that are snapshots of the exact (minus algorithmic tweak) feed that any given user sees when they open their app. Intriguing, right?
Well, it turns out Twitter has done this themselves twice before. Once in 2011 and originally waaaay back in 2009. The product had a built in feature that allowed you to just click through and view someone’s follower graph as a feed with a tap.
I was there in 2009 when it was a thing, and I can tell you that it was just flat out cool to see someone else’s graph going by. In the early growing days it was very interesting to see who was following who or what. It sort of taught you how to ‘do’ Twitter when everyone was learning it together. I can see why Harding wanted a duplicate of this in order to re-create this feeling of ‘snapshotting’ someone else’s info apparatus.
Unfortunately, one of the big side effects of the way that Vicariously duplicates this feature using an automated ‘list builder’ is that it spams every person it adds to the list given that Twitter always notifies you when someone adds you to a list and there is no current way to alter that behavior.
There are also other issues with the way that Vicariously works to build public lists of people’s follower graphs. There is potential for abuse here in that it could be used to target the people that a targeted account follows. One of the major reasons Twitter killed this feature twice is that the whole thing feels hyper personal. Your Twitter follower graph is something that you, theoretically, curate. Though a lot of people have become more performative with follows and instead, ironically, add the people they want to ‘follow’ to lists.
Having your graph public is something that felt exciting and connective at one point in Twitter’s life. But the world may be too big and too nasty now for something like this to feel really comfortable if it ever spreads beyond the technorati/Twitter power user crowd. We’ll see I guess.
Update July 27th 7:50PM PT. Harding posted some tweets from the official Vicariously account noting that he is adding some privacy controls to the app. He also notes that he’s hoping to work with the Twitter developer relations team to build out the product in a way that prevents abuse.
Update on privacy controls. Two settings have been added:
* prevent others from creating lists based on your follows * prevent others from adding you to lists created through vicariously
This won’t address everyone’s concerns, but it does give you control at the very least.
The two-party system has been an entrenched feature of the U.S. electoral system since its inception. Is change even possible?
In the second episode of this special two-part discussion, business leader Katherine Gehl and Harvard Business School professor Michael Porter discuss innovative reforms, like ranked-choice voting, that promote competition and accountability.
Later in the show, we talk with attorney and author Jeff Clements, of American Promise, about his efforts to reform campaign finance laws.
HBR Presents is a network of podcasts curated by HBR editors, bringing you the best business ideas from the leading minds in management. The views and opinions expressed are solely those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Harvard Business Review or its affiliates.
Remote patient monitoring is a subset of telehealth that involves the collection, transmission, evaluation, and communication of patient health data from electronic devices. These devices include wearable sensors, implanted equipment, and handheld instruments. During the pandemic, such monitoring programs have proven valuable. But special measures and conditions made that possible. By encouraging regulators to make permanent the temporary measures introduced during the pandemic and by following six guidelines to integrate these programs into health care, providers realize their tremendous promise.
By making the collection of valuable patient data feasible outside of the clinic, remote monitoring can facilitate care for conditions ranging from chronic diseases to recovery from acute episodes of care. For years, it has been touted as one of the most promising opportunities for health care in the digital age. But the pandemic has underscored its value. Indeed, policy changes introduced during the pandemic due to the riskiness of in-person patient visits have created conditions ripe for its adoption. We urge regulators to extend these changes beyond the pandemic and for health care leaders to take advantage of this window of opportunity to develop, test, and improve remote-patient-monitoring programs.
What is remote patient monitoring? While “telehealth” broadly refers to all health care activities that are conducted through telecommunications technology, remote patient monitoring is a subset that involves the collection, transmission, evaluation, and communication of patient health data from electronic devices. These devices include wearable sensors, implanted equipment, and handheld instruments.
We define remote patient monitoring as the set of activities that meet four key criteria: (1) data on patients is collected remotely (e.g., in a home setting without oversight from a health care provider); (2) the data collected is transmitted to a health care provider in a different location; (3) the data is evaluated and care providers are notified, as needed; and (4) care providers communicate relevant data-driven insights and interventions to patients.
Remote Monitoring During the Pandemic
By making it possible to virtually perform medical activities that have traditionally been conducted in person, remote monitoring technologies have played a significant role in patient care during the Covid-19 pandemic. For example, providers such as Mount Sinai Health System in New York City, University Hospitals in Cleveland, Ohio, St. Luke’s University Health Network in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, and Providence St. Joseph Health in Renton, Washington, started programs during the Covid-19 pandemic in order to monitor vital sign and symptom data and assess the status of coronavirus patients. Other hospitals, such as Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota, are working to set up remote patient monitoring programs for non-Covid-19 patients (e.g., as those with congestive heart failure).
New policies have recognized the importance of remote patient monitoring in this context. The U.S. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services expanded Medicare coverage for remote patient monitoring to include patients with acute conditions and new patients as well as existing patients. Moreover, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration issued a new policy allowing certain devices (FDA-approved non-invasive devices used to monitor vital signs) to be used in remote settings. Nonetheless, these changes remain temporary: They have only been authorized for the duration of the Covid-19 public health emergency. We hope that additional policies will be enacted to ensure that these programs can serve a variety of patients and conditions beyond the context of Covid-19.
Guidelines for Development and Implementation
These guidelines are drawn from our own experience managing remote-patient-monitoring programs, including one created specifically to care for Covid-19 patients, and research on the drivers of clinical success of established programs.
The technology must be easy for both patients and clinicians to adopt and continue using. It is essential to provide both patients and clinicians with intuitive equipment and user interfaces as well as resources for trouble-shooting when needed. Clinicians should be able to easily explain the equipment to patients, and it should be easy for patients to set up and use. The patient data generated by remote monitoring should also be simple to monitor and analyze.
This need is illustrated by a trial that studied remote monitoring of patients with congestive heart failure. In this trial, study physicians could not collect data for 12 out of 66 enrolled patients because these patients were unable to properly operate the mobile-phone-based monitoring device to begin data transmission.
The tools should be incorporated into clinician workflows. Given the high burden of administrative work that clinicians already face, it is imperative to introduce remote tools that blend seamlessly into their work processes. In some cases, this may require redesigning processes in order to ensure that remote monitoring is appropriately integrated into an organization’s practices.
For example, the administrators of a diabetes management program established at Massachusetts General Hospital found that they needed to modify the existing workflow for managing patients with diabetes in order to readily identify which patients required laboratory testing. Subsequently, the program built an application that remotely monitored diabetic patients and helped coordinate responsibilities for following up with patients about laboratory testing. This redesigned workflow improved efficiency by making it easier for nurse managers to remind patients about laboratory testing.
Sources of sustainable funding must be identified and tapped. This is especially critical at a time when hospitals are struggling financially due to the huge amount of revenue they have lost from pandemic-related cancellations and delays in performing surgeries and imaging.
Reimbursement for remote-patient-monitoring programs is challenging to navigate given that individual activities eligible for reimbursement — such as device set-up, patient education, interpretation of data, and follow-up patient conversations — are reimbursed separately. Nonetheless, reimbursement for such programs has improved with the advent of risk-based models of reimbursement such as Medicare Advantage plans and accountable care organizations, which offer providers increased flexibility in allocating capital to remote monitoring programs.
Many remote-patient-monitoring programs may have to rely on other sources of funding besides reimbursement, especially to fulfill upfront capital needs. In some instances, these sources of funding may be from the provider system’s operating budget. Internal innovation grants also may support programs. For instance, a diabetes remote monitoring program at Su Clinica Familiar, a federally qualified health center, was funded through a grant by the University of Texas System. Regardless of the nature of funding, we believe it is essential to identify a committed source of capital before establishing a remote-patient-monitoring program.
Dedicate sufficient non-physician staff to operate the program. A key reason this is necessary is that busy physicians will have difficulty carving out additional time to administer a program and sift through data. For example, Ochsner Medical Center in New Orleans developed a digital hypertension program staffed by pharmacists, who monitored 6,000 high-risk patients’ blood pressure readings remotely and followed up with patients via text and email. This program resulted in a significant increase in the proportion of patients who met their blood pressure goals.
As demonstrated by this example, it’s critical that staff in these roles are matched with the nature of the work. For instance, the complex tasks involved in hypertension-medication management might require a pharmacist or nurse as opposed to a patient navigator without clinical expertise.
Focus on digital health equity. Patients may appear to be better candidates for remote monitoring if they are younger, technologically savvy, or are fluent English-speakers. However, access to technology may be limited by poverty, and numerous other socio-demographic factors may influence engagement and participation in remote monitoring programs. At a time when the Covid-19 pandemic has disproportionately affected minority populations, care providers should go the extra mile to ensure that underserved patients not only have access to programs, but are also provided education and support needed to make them successful .
Start with an initial pilot and expand after demonstrated successes. Even in a pandemic setting in which time is of the essence, it is essential to demonstrate that remote patient monitoring initiatives improve clinical outcomes. Not all programs have demonstrated success, so the use of pilots can help avoid expensive mistakes. One successful program that scaled gradually is the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania’s remote postpartum hypertension monitoring program. This program expanded from a small pilot to a larger clinical trial to the entire academic medical center based on evidence that it decreased admissions and costs associated with postpartum hypertension.
Covid-19 has created an opportunity to accelerate the adoption of remote patient monitoring as our health care system struggles to care for patients outside of the physical walls of a clinic or hospital. We encourage leaders to act decisively in establishing new programs by following best-in-class examples and guidelines. We believe that leaders who do so will spur a paradigm shift in how patient care is delivered that lasts far beyond the current crisis.
Many entrepreneurs have seized this moment as an opportunity to launch a social enterprise — businesses that have a dual mission of social impact and financial growth. But how can these entrepreneurs ensure that their short-term innovations can last as viable, long-term businesses? The author, a founder of a mission-driven company and a professor of social enterprise and global health at Emory University, offers four steps forward.
From the Atlanta high school student who started an organization delivering free meals to front line hospital workers, to a group of Colombian engineers building low-cost ventilators from scratch, innovators worldwide are creating novel solutions to the problems caused by the pandemic. And many are looking to turn their Covid-19 inspired innovations into sustainable businesses that will continue on past the immediate crisis.
As an entrepreneur who co-founded, built, and sold a mission-driven company, and a professor of social enterprise and global health at Emory University, I’d suggest that today’s Covid-19-inspired innovators take four key steps if they want to turn that project into a viable business for the long term.
1. Determine whether your innovation is addressing a long-term problem.
The best innovations are created in response to specific, urgent, and sizeable problems. In some ways, the Covid-19 crisis has made our most urgent problems and their potential solutions more obvious. For example: Health care providers needed masks; production facilities were idle; workers were furloughed and needed jobs. A social enterprise could address all three of these urgent problems simultaneously: Train workers to make masks in underused production facilities for health care providers.
But will this cluster of problems still need your solution three to five years from now?
Some coronavirus-inspired entrepreneurs are building on existing trends that have been amplified and accelerated by the pandemic, such as the explosive growth in telehealth, remote patient monitoring and the use of AI in health care. One MIT Covid-19 Challenge winner, for example, built a model to track the national distribution of critical medical supplies for hospitals in highest need. The efficient distribution of healthcare supplies is obviously an urgent problem today, but even beyond the current crisis, will be of value to healthcare systems that need to reduce waste and lower costs. On the other hand, some Covid-19 inspired organizations have been established in response to problems that are urgent and important today but are unlikely to be as critical once circumstances change. Free meal delivery services that were started to help health care workers may fall into this second category.
In order to determine whether your new product or service is addressing a long-term or short-term problem, I recommend that entrepreneurs start by looking to the past. Construct a market-opportunity analysis using data from 2019 and earlier. Was the problem you are addressing now a problem then? And, if so, how big was it? Next, list what specifically changed with the emergence of Covid-19 that created or amplified this problem and the need for your innovation.
For example, the need to care for patients from a distance, a problem solved by telehealth and remote-patient monitoring, certainly existed prior 2020. What changed with Covid-19 were the widespread stay-at-home orders, more widely available video and home-based technologies and, in the case of telehealth, changes in regulations and reimbursement, which, together, have led to a tremendous demand for these services.
2. Identify your long-term market.
The next step is projecting whether there will be a large, passionate market for your product or service in a post-Covid future. Research conducted by CB Insights prior to the pandemic found that a lack of market demand was the most common reason for failed startups’ demise, with 42% of companies citing it as a contributing cause.
I came close to becoming a member of the “failed-startup-founder club” myself 20 years ago when I relinquished tenure at a top university to co-found an early digital health company. Our mission was to build an online health resource for Latin America. Soon after we incorporated, however, we realized that there were only a couple million Spanish-speaking consumers online at the time — a market too small to build a viable business around. On top of that, we made another mistake common to rookie entrepreneurs: We were too focused on the technology, and not enough on the customer.
User-centered design has taught us that a key to building a lasting business is having a deep understanding of who your customers are and how your product or service fits into their world.
As a Covid-19 inspired entrepreneur, ask yourself two questions: Are you delivering an innovation that your customers are passionate about? And will there be a large enough number of these passionate customers to grow a business once coronavirus is under control?
3. Proactively pivot, if you need to.
If you determine that your current target market may not be large enough in a post-Covid future, you may need to pivot, like we did.
For the first five years of our company, we kept the lights on by selling translation and marketing services to U.S. hospital systems that served Hispanic patients, buying ourselves time until the market of Spanish-speakers passionate about health information eventually grew to half a billion people.
If it’s your turn for a strategic pivot, do whatever you can to pivot early, proactively, and thoughtfully. There are ample stories in the media these days of startups that are pivoting — but are doing so reactively in a frantic scramble for survival.
4. Map your business model.
Many of today’s Covid-19 inspired innovations are being given away for free, or are supported by donations, as is appropriate during an emergency. The leaders of these startups should be aware that contributions to non-profit organizations that are not Covid-19 centric are way down. Maintaining a donation-exclusive organization over the long-run in the face of today’s economic circumstances will likely be difficult.
Covid-19 inspired innovators should consider revenue models native to the field of social entrepreneurship. Social enterprises have a dual mission of social impact and financial growth and have developed an array of business models to achieve these parallel goals. For example, a Covid-19 inspired innovator in the U.K. is using the “buy one, give one” sales model to distribute the newly invented “hygienehook.”
Today’s entrepreneurs who are working on mapping their business model should also look to the past, when other economic disruptions similarly forced many companies to rethink their businesses. During the “great recession” of 2008, for example, Mark Johnson, Clayton Christensen, and Henning Kagermann presented a framework for reinventing your business model that is as relevant today as it was then. I suggest today’s entrepreneurs use this framework to define their company’s customer value proposition (CVP), profit formula, and the key resources and processes needed to deliver the offering as they navigate a future that is likely to demand novel solutions for some time to come.
The Covid-19 pandemic has clearly confirmed the maxim that crisis breeds innovation and opportunity. We have been reminded that WWII yielded the first programmable digital computers as well as unexpected discoveries like super glue. It is unclear at this time which of the tens of thousands of Covid-19 inspired entrepreneurs are creating products and services that will succeed in the long-term, but by going through these steps, more of today’s innovations will be the ones that people are using years and decades from now.
If our free content helps you to contend with these challenges, please consider subscribing to HBR. A subscription purchase is the best way to support the creation of these resources.
Covid-19 has confronted businesses and employees with the acute challenges of remote work, underscoring the need to provide the right tools, planning, and support to ensure people stay healthy, connected, and productive. Managers are focused on working with employees to ensure the right infrastructure is in place, not just in technology but also in the way they set up expectations, processes, and priorities.
Of course, if remote workers lack the right tools or access to information, they’ll feel disconnected, disorganized, and disengaged. So it’s been vital to put in place the right tools, from computers, microphones, and cameras to the right software and apps. To create a productive ecosystem, employees also need easy access to group and shared drives and a plan for setting up team goals, deliverables, and timelines. Sharing schedules and documenting team members’ preferred working hours are also important.
But working from home is the new reality for many people. It’s not just equipment and process that are needed; employees are confronting new issues around feeling disconnected from the office while facing new pressures at home. So leaders need to think about new ways of helping workers manage expectations around both office and family.
This means managers must be realistic about the challenges. Working at home may mean more multitasking. Some employees may be less productive, so encourage employees to set achievable daily tasks and goals. If those go well, gradually make the goals more ambitious. Get employees to agree on workloads, projects, and priorities with their manager and communicate them to the team.
Keeping the whole team connected is crucial. Get the communication wrong and team collaboration grinds to a halt, customer focus could fail, and innovation could be stifled. So it’s important for each team member to be aware of others’ projects, timelines, and goals. Syncing responsibilities and deadlines with teammates helps manage projects, maximizes efficiency, and ensures that everyone’s work gets done. Online meetings should have clear goals, agendas, and outcomes, so send pre-reads sufficiently in advance.
Connectivity is only one solution for enabling remote working. Failure to provide remote workers with the right support can affect their motivation, productivity, and work-life balance. Isolation fatigue could easily set in, so encourage employees to think about these steps:
Set Expectations With the Family
Encourage employees to agree with partners and children about schedules, quiet spaces, homework time, and when it’s okay to interrupt. Make sure they take time to get fresh air or have some fun. It’s important to be flexible and to keep checking that these expectations work for everyone.
Set Boundaries With a Workspace
Urge employees to carve out a space, zone, or approach to work that’s separate from family members when they need privacy or are on a call. Wearing headphones or placing a sign on the back of their chair or monitor works as a clear signal to others.
Build a Routine, And Practice Good Self-Care
Encourage a routine that helps get work done efficiently and effectively. For some people, this means rebuilding their home office environment. For others, it’s about establishing a new routine. It’s important to set reasonable boundaries so workers don’t feel that they’re “always on” when working remotely. Breaks need to be prioritized to avoid burnout. And routines need to include staying connected with social communities, including business resource groups and work support groups on platforms like Workplace, Facebook, and Instagram.
Stick to Meeting Schedules
Working remotely doesn’t mean working reactively. Give employees the freedom to push back on last-minute conversations and spontaneous meetings—particularly those unrelated to their priorities.
Socialize With Colleagues
Isolation is a common problem for remote workers, so it’s more important than ever to come together. Try creating and participating in chat threads where team members can talk about common interests. Video calls are better to connect with colleagues, even just for an end-of-day watercooler chat. They also help introverts—who’d rather not socialize—periodically connect with team members.
Communicate with Clarity and Positivity
Working remotely makes it vital for communications, especially by email or chat, to be clear and positive, or they may be viewed as cold or indifferent. Happy emojis, fun photos, and generous compliments all are tools to maintain morale and build rapport.