Practical Ways to Structure Remote Teams in the Face of Coronavirus

As soon as the statistics, predictions and hypotheses related to the economic fallout from the Coronavirus outbreak are put in print, they change. That stated, as of March 18, 2020, we, the team at TGG, want to share what we can with our network to help you structure remote teams in the face of great change.

It has been a little more than 10 weeks since the Coronavirus outbreak began to be reported globally. In the past 3 days, the U.S. has moved from banning gatherings of 500 or more to 50 or more and now 10 or more. Over the past three days, a ban on all gatherings of 50 or more individuals has expanded to a ban on all gatherings of 10 or more people at any time. Drive-through tests are being set up around the U.S. with the ability to swab sick individuals and provide results more rapidly than the current 3-day wait. Though at this time there are few stations to be found.

With schools out, children are at home attempting to master e-learning alongside their parents who are also attempting to telecommute to work each day. It is a strange time for all of us, requiring calm, patience and flexibility.

As a business who has always had the capacity to operate remotely for our out of town clients, we feel uniquely
adjusted to the structures that allow for successful functioning as more businesses lose the ability to communicate on-site and face-to-face. However, we too have never been through anything like this and we are doing our best to respond with sensitivity to the concerns of our workers and our clients.

Support for businesses who experience losses.

Businesses negatively impacted by Coronavirus will be eligible for low interest government loans. President Trump signed a bill that allows the Small Business Administration to issue an estimated $7 billion in low-interest loans through the U.S. Small Business Administration’s Economic Injury Disaster Loans program. These loans offer up to $2 million in assistance for a small business.

Payroll taxes may be reduced.

The bill on the Senate floor would reduce payroll taxes for someone who is sick (up to $2,000 per sick employee). Articles across the internet indicate that there may be a total freeze on payroll tax for the foreseeable future.

As of today, March 18th, 2020, individuals, including small business owners, can defer up to $1 million in IRS tax payments without interest and penalties for 90 days of the April 15th deadline.

A global slowdown will certainly follow the major supply chain disruptions that have already occurred. This global slowdown will likely affect small and mid-size companies more acutely; and while the supply chain in China will likely start to come back online in the next month, the impact of the virus’ spread in the U.S. has yet to peak and so our ability to engage with the improved supply chain will lag behind.

For businesses learning to structure a workforce that is now entirely remote, we would like to share our own best practices for remote work.

1: Use technology: Implement communication platforms for real-time teamwork, task management and accountability. Platforms such as Zoom for video conferencing, Slack for realtime discussions by teams and Trello for task management can streamline deliverables and communication

2: Adopt “the way of the coder”: That means scrum meetings in which this day’s tasks are laid out, yesterdays tasks are rapidly reviewed and everyone breaks and goes to work. These can be conducted on Zoom at the same time each day.

3: COMMUNICATE: communicate communicate communicate. Call clients on the phone, let them know you are still there working in the same diligent way as you always have been, just remotely, for the foreseeable future.

4: Be clear on team leaders’ responsibilities: Autonomy and trust are essential for good team leaders in a remote work environment. Do not try to micromanage a remote team. Trust that you made the right hires and that your team leaders will communicate issues as they arise.

5: Lead by example: C-suite interaction across platforms throughout the early days of establishing remote work is essential. Your presence in meetings will let your company know that you are invested in the success of the new workday structure.

Despite all the hype, people are not sitting at home watching endless shows on Netflix. They are working, often late into the night while their children are asleep. Results count, but the timing of creating those results is less important.

We will weather the storm and come out with deeper insights into the structures that work. The leaders who step into their own will remain strong leaders once we are all able to get back to face-to-face work and and the value they bring will be magnified.

At TGG, we are grateful for our clients, for their trust and for our own team who are transitioning to 100% remote work. Our quality of reporting will not be impacted, though the strategies we implement to achieve that quality will adjust to the circumstances.

Stay healthy,

Wash your hands