Studies show that loneliness is becoming an increasingly common physical and mental health concern for which remote workers are acutely at risk. With coronavirus forcing employees into 100% work from home (WFH) guidelines, and in some cases, complete shelter in place restrictions, workplace loneliness is at an all-time high.
Understandably, employees who are used to seeing each other every day are especially feeling this disconnect. And, with coffee shops and restaurants closed, remote employees who were always 100% remote no longer have their routines those routines.
Employees converting to a remote role are afraid that they won’t get the social stimulation they need to stay motivated and engaged at work. Working from home can lead to endless distractions. Work productivity can be sluggish and fragmented. At most companies, the work they did has slipped away, or they are unable to generate new sales or profits. All of this adds up to be a strain and a sense of isolation.
As an Executive Communication Coach who specializes in Effective Remote Communication at The Speech Improvement Company, I am offering a few of our newest tips to help conquer remote work loneliness during the coronavirus pandemic.
1. Bet on the weather. This idea is fun and costs nothing to roll out. To be clear, gambling at most places of work is illegal, so it’s best to keep this a light and fun activity with no actual money at stake. (Think a March Madness type pool but renamed March Sadness!) Perhaps the winner can gather donations to their favorite charity or bragging rights for six months. Maybe they get a paid day off on their birthday. Any prize helps it feel more exciting. To bet on the weather, it can be elaborate or straightforward. Commit to a few cities to bet on, commit to how you will bet – by temperature, by an icon on an app, by weather activity (rain, thunder, fog, partly sunny), or any parameter you like. This could be a one-time event on a Friday afternoon meeting or a weekly event. Even with prizes that have no monetary value, you are creating a new sense of fun and friendly competition.
2. Set up a remote lunch meeting with a surprise guest. Have one person on the team volunteer to bring in a special guest to a lunchtime meeting – their pet, child, friend, neighbor, or anyone who would be willing to pop on the video call for a few minutes. If they can access the meeting link remotely, anyone in the world can be your Surprise Guest, like your parents or spin class instructor and, is a fantastic way to get to know your team members and shake up the monotony of meetings.
3. Plan a company-wide talent show on a Friday afternoon. Invite anyone and everyone who would like to take part – your spouse, partner, dog, bunny, child, or yourself. Let family members in your home tune in as well. After all the performances are complete, use a poll or chat feature to determine the top three winners of the talent show. Winners will receive a prize with no monetary value like a royal background on the next four video calls, or a crown mailed to them that was handmade by a fellow team member.
4. Send a handwritten letter to a team member. When permission has been given, list all team members’ names and home addresses alphabetically in an Excel document. Everyone writes a handwritten letter to the person under them on the list. If this is not appropriate in your organization because home addresses are private, handwrite the letter, take a picture of it, and send it electronically via email or IM. While the idea of pen pals has long been forgotten, the concept of receiving a handwritten note is still a lot of fun.
5. Host a weekly live edition of “Lifestyles of the Bored and Quarantined.” Have one team member walk around their house for 10 minutes before a team call to give their team a virtual tour. What they share is up to them, but ideas include pets, plants, kids, favorite rooms of the house, the backyard, or wildlife. These meetings are a fantastic no-cost way to get to know each other more and create stronger remote team bonds.
These WFH ideas are fresh off the press and just in time for the continued social isolation and mandatory work from home policies. We expect all team meetings will be remote meetings for at least a few more weeks, possibly much longer. Use these tips to combat loneliness, strengthen your remote team bond, and have a sense of playfulness during this time of fear and the unknown. Remember, you can depend on your team to help get you through these times, even if you are not in the same office, city, or country.
While this post offers fun and playful ideas, remote work loneliness can be serious and upsetting. We encourage you to talk to someone about it – a boss, teammate, spouse, or friend online. When you open up and share what you’re feeling, you give someone the chance to support you, and, in return, you hear how others might be feeling as well. Once you’ve talked to someone about your feelings, you can more effectively support each other and get the emotional support you need to keep plugging away.
Now, in the midst of this pandemic, if you need to adjust your business narrative, how should you do that? If your business is to continue, your constituents need to know that your company is still strong and has been able to adapt to changing times. Here is food for thought and some direction for your consideration as you address this issue.
Begin by understanding that framing the story is essential. You should always answer three questions as you build your narrative:
- Where are your listeners/constituents naturally on the topic that you need to address?
- Where do you need them to be to consider the value of your message?
- What story, information, etc. can you use at the beginning, and throughout your narrative to facilitate that?
Take the time to answer these simple questions, and you will be in a significantly better position to effectively and strategically address the important issues in your narrative. These answers will also help support your need to motivate, influence, and lead in this unprecedented time.
90-minute, online, interactive workshop
Thinking on Your Feet
Thursday, May 21, 2020
1:00 PM – 2:30 PM EDT
$99 per seat
THINKING ON YOUR FEET is always a strong indicator of confidence and competence. Next to controlling nervousness, it’s our most requested training topic!
Two things will happen during this 90-minute workshop:
First, you will learn specific techniques that will help you strengthen your ability to think on your feet and express your thoughts with clarity and confidence. We will teach and demonstrate these techniques in a simple and practical manner.
Second, you will practice the techniques in breakout groups. The number of participants will be limited to ensure that every participant will have ample opportunity to practice.
Yes, we are doing all this online! It promises to be an enjoyable and productive learning experience…and you’re invited!
30-minute recorded webinar
Communicating During Crisis
Navigating Essential Conversations
In these unprecedented times, your people are relying on your insight and direction. Effective communication is every leader’s best tool and using it appropriately is the key to moving business forward. Your employees, peers, vendors, partners, and others all need clear, concise, and useful information.
Our team of Executive Communication Coaches will be joined by renowned crisis expert Dr. Kevin Becker to give you a framework for essential management communication. During this webinar you will learn the three most important things that must be communicated during a time of crisis and proven techniques for putting it all in place immediately.
Managing Employees Remotely
Overcoming challenges in communication,
motivation, and employee engagement
The coronavirus is forcing many of us to work and manage remotely. With large numbers of employees working remotely for the first time and reading frightening headlines daily, managers have a whole new set of challenges to continue leading effectively.
Watch our webinar and you will learn:
- The key challenges to remote work
- Five important skills for effective remote collaboration
- How to motivate and engage employees
This is a unique opportunity to fine-tune your communication skills. You will learn proven strategies you can put to use immediately with any remote employee or team to keep them focused and productive.
This recorded webinar is for:
Raising capital for your biotech company requires more than a great product and a fancy slide deck. You need a combination of substantial scientific evidence, a great story, and a solid pitch. The road to funding is a long and winding journey, from extensive costs to regulatory requirements to navigate. What is often lost during this presentation brainstorm process is a rigorous practice schedule to hone and perfect your investor pitch. This article outlines the four imperative practice strategies biotech companies need to succeed.
For some biotech executives, practice means memorization. While being very comfortable with your presentation material is a crucial factor, there is so much more to be done than rote memorization. The quality of your practice has a direct impact on the success of your presentation. Don’t worry about memorization; what is most important is HOW you say it.
Once your investor pitch and the slide deck are created, your goal is to increase your market valuation by crystallizing your message using storytelling, evidence, and in-depth financial analysis. The four practice tools below will captivate investors and emphasize your value proposition.
1. Structural Practice
The structural practice covers the logistics of a group presentation. Questions to discuss with the presentation team include:
- How will we talk into the room, and in what order?
- Where will we stand?
- Will the projector/ screen be blocked if we stand in a specific spot?
- Who speaks first, second, third? How is the speaker role passed along, e.g., “Now Frank will talk about…”?
- Will the PowerPoint clicker be passed along, and when?
- Do we all need microphones, or will one microphone be passed from person to person?
- If we had to present the same pitch in 10 minutes instead of 30 minutes, how will we achieve this? Who will speak? What will we share? What slides would we use?
- If the PowerPoint fails, do we know the order of the presentation?
- How will be exit the room?
Questions are an essential part of meetings. When questions are asked, there is interest. Questions can be a test not only for your knowledge of the content but your confidence in what you are representing.
The three techniques below will help you prepare for inevitable questions.
- Restate– In restating the question, you are NOT adding any new information or changing the meaning. Changing the meaning does not always mean words, many times it’s done with tone and inflection. Also restating DOES NOT mean using the same words and ‘parroting’ the information. When this technique is done well, the listener repeats the essence of the message with no judgment, emotion, or opinion implied. In other words – a neutral tone. It’s much easier said than done. It can be most challenging in an emotionally loaded conversation, which is also where it is the most powerful and effective. The main resistance people have to restate a question comes from the fear that they appear to be agreeing when they do not. Do not let this stop you from using this effective technique, as it is even more powerful when you do not agree with the other person’s statement.
- Disclaiming– Many times, people are fearful of answering because they want to have the right answer. “I don’t know, but I will find out” won’t get you very far in business communication, especially when it’s used more than once. Learning how to frame your answer can help. Some phrases act as a disclaimer so you can offer insight or at least the limited information you do have.
4 Feb BUILDING RAPPORT QUICKLY
Investor meetings are difficult enough because you need to tell your story, what makes you unique, and why you are the right company for them to invest. In reality, though, the most difficult and important part is building the necessary rapport with the investors.
Investors need to see a potential business relationship that they can develop. Do you have goals, values, beliefs, and drivers that align? How do you know what those are for your investors? How do you connect in this way?
It is not easy. It is one of the reasons our executive communication coaches are brought in to help. It goes beyond process and structure into the psychology of communication and how to apply it. There are three steps you can take to better position yourself to build rapport quickly with investors. (more…)
AI, or artificial intelligence, has taken root in biotech. From lab assistants to drug discovery, AI provides a cheap, quick, and more effective process for advancement. And the AI push is visible within public speaking development, from counting your “uh’s” to determining if you speak with enough passion.
There is no shortage of apps, software, and computer programs that claim to increase your skill as a presenter and public speaker. Many Biotech companies have embraced Artificial Intelligence (AI) apps, software, and programs that offer a “speech coach in your pocket.” Should you whip out your credit card and sign up? And if you have joined the AI coaching bandwagon, what do you need to prepare for while using the app? Here are seven critical factors to consider:
1) Technical Difficulties– Utilization of AI for improved communication skills is a reasonably new technology and there are still technical issues to prepare for: Blank screens, constant reinstallations, “free plans” with little value, outdated versions that require a help desk to resolve, restricted content, a lack of continued learning opportunities after a certain point, lessons that won’t load, and any other tech issue you can imagine. This puts a damper on progress.
2) Lack of Context – Your app may flag you for pausing too long, but if you are a skilled speaker, you can hesitate for an extended amount of time and investors will wait with bated breath in anticipation of what you will say. The app may tell you your pace was too fast or slow, but again, a speaker telling a funny story or sharing a heartbreaking loss will utilize different pacing speeds to help create excitement, momentum, suspense, or surprise. (more…)
- The message was lost
- The team didn’t seem on the same page
- They didn’t present what the VC wanted to hear
- It just wasn’t right